One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Of or relating to Malo-Russia or its inhabitants; specifically of or relating to the Slavic people of Malo-Russia or their East Slavonic language.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in William Tooke (bap. 1744, d. 1820), writer and translator. From Russian Malorossija, obsolete name for Ukraine (or a derivative such as Malorossijanin a Ukrainian; from malyj little + -o- + Rossija Russia, after medieval Greek Μικρὰ Ῥωσσία little Russia, Ukraine) + -an. Μικρὰ Ῥωσσία (goes to post-classical Latin Russia Minor) was formed in antithesis to Byzantine Greek or medieval Greek Μεγάλη Ῥωσσία great Russia, Muscovy.
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