Khokhol [хохол; xoxol]. A derogatory Russian term for Ukrainians. Khokhol literally means a sheaf or tuft of cereal stalks and is derived from an old Slavic word. As a term used to describe Ukrainians, it may have originally referred to the customary tufts of hair worn by the Cossacks, called oseledtsi. Although it was primarily used by Russians to denigrate Ukrainians, at times, especially in the 19th century, it was used by Ukrainians as a term of self-identification. In these contexts, the term khokhol has appeared in Ukrainian literature, mainly in historical literary works by such writers as Oleksander Dovzhenko (‘Eh, you, khokhol. You would only joke’) and Zinaida Tulub (‘Our khokhly always wear moustaches’). In the 20th century the term began to be used by Ukrainians as a scornful epithet for Russified Ukrainians.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine