Definition of Karachai in English:


(also Karachay)


  • 1A member of an indigenous people living in Karachai-Cherkessia.

    • ‘The chapters are unbalanced: the author, for example, devotes thirty-two pages to the Germans, eleven to the Koreans, and only five to the Karachays.’
    • ‘The compiler's footnote states that ‘the belief existed among the ancient Balkars and Karachays that the meat of a white deer cures all illnesses’.’
    • ‘Similar divisions created different autonomous regions for the Karachays and Balkars, who speak a single language and have a common culture.’
    • ‘In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan the Soviet government placed the Karachais under special settlement restrictions and assigned them to work on collective and state farms.’
    • ‘A number of Karachays also fled to Turkey.’
    • ‘The deportation of the Karachai occurred while the overwhelming majority of the male population was serving in the Red Army.’
    • ‘Balkarians and Karachais had most friendly culture-economic relations with all the neighboring peoples.’
    • ‘In contrast, Karachais reside in the highlands, terrain suitable for root vegetables and herding.’
    • ‘The Karachay live in the Karachai-Cherkess districts and surrounding areas of southwestern Russia.’
    • ‘All Chechens and Ingush, Balkars and Karachays were deported from the Caucasus in 1943-4.’
  • 2mass noun The Turkic language of the Karachai, with under 200,000 speakers.

    • ‘The Karachay speak Karachay-Balkar, a Turkic language; the Cherkess speak Cherkess, a dialect of Kabardian.’
    • ‘They speak a dialect of Karachay-Balkar, which belongs to the Kypchak division of the Uralo-Altaic language family.’
    • ‘Virtually all of the Balkar (96%) speak both Karachay-Balkar and Russian.’
    • ‘Among dead languages, the closest to Karachay-Balkar are Old Bulgar and Kuman-Kipchak, and among living languages the closest are Kumyk, Crimean Tatar, and the Karaite languages.’
    • ‘The closest related languages are Kumyk, Karachay-Balkar and Crimean Tatar.’


  • Relating to the Karachai or their language.

    • ‘In the Karachayevo-Cherkas oblast a Karachai national committee was formed and enjoyed some autonomy, and a Cossack region, also with a degree of autonomy, was set up in the Kuban in October 1942.’
    • ‘In 1943 the Karachay people were deported to Central Asia for alleged collaboration with the Nazis.’
    • ‘The Karachay and Circassian languages are very closely related to Balkar and Kabardian respectively.’
    • ‘Officially, 93,000 Kalmyks, 68,000 Karachai people, 500,000 Chechens, 340,000 Balkars and 180,000 Tartars were deported.’
    • ‘In recent years, the Russian authorities have charged that ethnic Karachai, not Chechens, were responsible for the apartment bombings, and two Karachai men were tried in secret, with the sentences only being made public in 2004.’
    • ‘The best Kabardins are raised at the Karachai and Malka studs.’
    • ‘After the Mongolian invasion Karachay ancestors were driven to canyons in the North Caucasus.’


From Turkic, from kara, qara ‘back’ and chai ‘brook’.