Was the word 'matecznik' (lair) really used in Mickiewicz's times by hunters, as is suggested by Book IV of 'Master Thaddeus' ? The author traces the history of the word in the oldest textual sources, placing particular emphasis on those from the Belarussian-Lithuanian region. Throughout almost the entire territory occupied by the Slavs, the word was used primarily in its botanical and apiarian meaning, and not in the hunting sense. The hunting trope appears unexpectedly in nineteenth-century Czech. The author recovers the Czech sources and comes to the conclusion that the Czech word 'matecnik' came directly from 'Master Thaddeus' and penetrated not the Czech hunting terminology, but the literary language. Following the publication of 'Master Thaddeus', the meaning given to this word by Mickiewicz gradually overshadowed its former meanings until, by the second half of the nineteenth century, it was given as the first meaning in dictionaries. On the basis of this information, it may be argued that it was not the hunters - Mickiewicz's fellow countrymen - but the poet himself who adapted the general Slavonic, delightfully ambiguous word to his fairy-tale 'forest kingdom', descended from the Belarussian legends.
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