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Is there a difference between these two words or are they synonyms? I understand that both words describe weather conditions, that are colder, than just "холод". It does seem to me that "стужа" sounds harsher than "мороз", but I cannot explain it.

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These words are usually synonyms. – Yevgeniy Dec 9 '12 at 5:56

These two can be treated as synonyms, but there's a subtle difference.

First of all, I would say (and Vladimir Dal's dictionary would agree with me) that "стужа" (derived from "студа") is harsher than "мороз".

Secondly, by using "стужа" you can refer to a situation that is "colder than it should be", for example "стужа в доме" doesn't mean that it's -50 degrees celsius in the house, but rather that it's much colder than it should be. In a similar way you use the verb "остудить" (to cool down, e.g. a cup of tea which is supposed to be served hot) instead of "заморозить" (to freeze so that it turns into ice).

Finally, "стужа" is somewhat outdated. You would often find it in literature, but not so often in common speech today.

See for "стужа".

See for "мороз".

Oh, and both words can also refer to things other than atmospheric conditions.

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You're right, "стужа" (or old-fashioned "студа") means "сильный мороз". You can consult Explanatory Dictionary of the Live Great Russian language by Vladimir Dal to get a comprehensive explanation of the words' meaning.

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Стужа - это когда зимой дует сильный ветер и очень холодно, а мороз - это просто очень низкая температура, то есть - много. Как правило, стужа бывает при сильном морозе. Стужа имеет общий корень со словами студить, остывать.

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Welcome to Russian.SE. Thank you for you answer. According to our rules, if a question was asked in English, please answer it in English. – Aleks G Dec 10 '12 at 8:42

«Мороз» means only low temperature. At my point «мороз» often been used to indicate dry cold. And usually it's objective definition.

«Стужа» means not only low temperature but also a cold wind and/or humid cold. Usually it's subjective definition.

So, if «на улице мороз» — you can feel yourself comfort, but if «на улице стужа» — this means that you can't feel comfortably because of wind or humid.

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Стужа is a dead of winter, мороз is a frost, which may happen every winter day.

Some synonyms are дубак - colloquail form of the frost, heard in all Siberia, and зусман. The later one comes via Yiddish from Odessa and also means frost, as I heard it from Hebrews. Also, Zusman is a widely known Yiddish family.

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"Стужа" is outdated. You will not normally encounter this word in modern speech.

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This is a perfectly valid, used and understandable by everyone in Russia word. – Daniel Excinsky Dec 10 '12 at 11:33
Not only it is valid, this does not answer the question. Author asked the difference between the two words, not which word should or should not be used. – theUg Feb 2 '13 at 23:46
@theUg the difference is that tha стужа sounds archaic, possibly, high-style/poetic. – Anixx Feb 3 '13 at 7:15

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