It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit aritrah "oar;" Greek eressein "to row," eretmon "oar," trieres "trireme;" Latin remus "oar;" Lithuanian iriu, irti "to row," irklas "oar;" Old Irish rome "oar," Old English roðor "rudder," rowan "go by water, row."
"propel (a vessel) with oars or paddles," Middle English rouen (mid-14c.), from Old English rowan (intrans.) "go by water, row" (class VII strong verb; past tense reow, past participle rowen), from Proto-Germanic *ro- (source also of Old Norse roa, Dutch roeien, West Frisian roeije, Middle High German rüejen), from PIE root *ere- "to row." The figurative phrase row against the flood "attempt what is difficult" is from mid-12c. The muscle-building rowing-machine is attested by 1848.
mid-15c. (late 12c. as a surname), a variation or alteration of Middle English rother, from Old English roðor "paddle, oar," from Proto-Germanic *rothru- (source also of Old Frisian roðer, Middle Low German roder, Middle Dutch roeder, Dutch roer, Old High German ruodar, German Ruder "oar"), from *ro- "steer" (from PIE root *ere- "to row") + suffix *-þra, used to form neutral names of tools.
The original sense is obsolete. The meaning "broad, flat piece of wood attached to the stern of a boat and guided by a tiller for use in steering" is from c. 1300. For shift of -th- to -d- compare burden (n.1), murder (n.); simultaneous but opposite movement turned -d- to -th- in father (n.), etc.
nation in Eastern Europe with a large possession in north Asia, 1530s, from Medieval Latin Russi "the people of Russia," from Rus, the native name of the people and the country (source of Arabic Rus, Medieval Greek Rhos), originally the name of a group of Swedish merchant/warriors who established themselves around Kiev 9c. and founded the original Russian principality; perhaps from Ruotsi, the Finnish name for "Sweden," from Old Norse Roþrslandi, "the land of rowing," old name of Roslagen, where the Finns first encountered the Swedes. This is from Old Norse roðr "steering oar," from Proto-Germanic *rothra- "rudder" (from PIE *rot-ro-, from root *ere- "to row").
Derivation from the IE root for "red," in reference to hair color, is considered less likely. Russian city-states were founded and ruled by Vikings and their descendants. The Russian form of the name, Rossiya, appears to be from Byzantine Greek Rhosia.
Russification is attested from 1842; Russianization by 1891.