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Abrek is a North Caucasian term. Origin from the Bible meaning in Hebrew "to kneel" or "prostrate in front of the God". Prior to Russian invasion into the Caucasus, and following Islamization of the North Caucasians in XVI-XIX century, majority of the North Caucasians were Christians. That is why from Chechen or Ingush the word abrek has the meaning as "avenger", from Cherkess or Karachai the word has the meaning as "brave man". In the Caucasus only in Ossetian and Russian the word has a derogatory meaning as "bandit", but they are of Indo-European language family. Once it was used for a person who vowed to avoid any pleasures and to be fearless in fight for the sake of the God. An abrek renounced himself from any contact with friend and relatives. Abrek lifestyle also included a lonely life in the unexplored wilderness and prayers. Later majority of abreks were devoted Muslims.

The word abrek was used as propaganda to and the example for the anti-Soviet guerrillas at the post-war North Caucasus, as well as for all illegals. Those abreks were widely popularized as the defenders of the motherland and paupers. Becoming aged, abreks of the West Caucasus usually devote themselves to beekeeping. Majority of the East Caucasus were killed in non-stop warfare against invaders.

After the establishment of the Soviet power, abreks continued the fight against oppressors, for the most part in Chechnya. The Chechen abreks unleashed the rebellions of 1920-21, 1929–31, 1931-1939, and the last in 1940-44, that led to the deportation. The last anti-Soviet Chechen abrek was killed 28 March 1976 at the age of 70., however an Ingush abrek Laisat Baisarova was never captured or killed and the tradition gradually transitioned into the modern times.