Regatta – a word that exists in the Hungarian language for more than 170 years

The word regatta has Italian roots, it has been used already in the 1400s for the gondola
races in Venice. However, in the German areas it had the meaning of “the same”, which later
might refer to the racing boats starting nose to nose. Count István Szécheny, the founder of
Hungarian rowing brought this word from England to Hungary together with nice wooden
boats. The first regatta was held here on the Danube on the 19 th of March in 1843, what the
Count recorded in his diary in German:

„Regatta wo Béla und Clark gewinnt gegen Gondel”- say: regatta, where Béla and Clark won
against Gondel. The boat was called Béla, named after the son of Széchenyi and Clark is
Adam Clark, the Scottish architect of the Lánchíd, the first bridge in Budapest.
This was the last regatta for the Count but not for Hungary. In the following articles we will
present some of the most famous Hungarian races and racers as well the rowing life in the
good old times.

The Hungarian Etymological Dictionary published in 2013 discussed the word regatta as “an
expression in the language of sport which is on the path of extinction”. So, this special word
owes its survival in the Hungarian language to the Budapest Cup Regatta for a while.

(By Zita Huszthy)

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