may I ask you to help me regarding the word memorable / unforgettable? In specific I would like to know when (in which scenario) a real russian person uses незабвенный and/or незабываемый. I ask because my dictionaries give me the same translations.

Thank you very much in advance!

6 Answers 6


The difference in usage is really dramatic.

1."Незабываемый" (something unforgettable, memorable) is mainly said of events including recent ones.

Это был незабываемый вечер (зрелище, театральная постановка, свидание - в таком-то году, вчера или даже сегодня).

In Russian, it's not typical to use words like "(ты/он) незабываемый" when expressing the idea that you won't forget the person you met or still remember them - you'd rather say directly "я буду тебя (его, её) помнить (помню, не забуду, не могу забыть)", "мне не забыть тебя", "его невозможно забыть", etc.

2."Незабвенный" (someone out of oblivion - "не преданный забвению", "до сих пор не забытый") is said of a person not seen for some time by those present or even of someone who'd passed. This word is only mentioned in addition to that persons name: as with the example above, it's not typical to say "он (имя) незабвенный". As mentioned in other answers, the word mainly belongs to refined style of speech and sometimes is used ironically. In poetry it may also be used to point at some memorable day in the past.

Незабвенный профессор Преображенский в таких случаях начинал чертыхаться.



This can be correctly only applied to things and events. It roughly means "producing impression", "producing emotion". It can be applied to night, tour, glance, taste, eyes, amusement etc.


This is very high-style. A Church-Slavonic borrowing. Roughly translates as "exceptional", "blazing", "outstanding". It can be applied only to actors, poets or heroes and their deeds. This implyes that those people had perished or had not been seen for a long time. This implyes their impact is still substantial yet the people most likely are not currently widely known, they just sparked in the past. They are more part of eternity rather than current events and discourse, yet memory of them is somehow kept by the followers or monuments. Applicable to people, deeds, sacrifice, heroism, victory, popularity, recognition and other achievements.

You cannot apply it to people of the past who are very well known, like presidents or national leaders of the recent past. It is applicable only to relatively half-forgotten yet exceptional people. It has a taste of sore and pittyness, maybe melancholy and a lot of internal strength.

To produce super-duper high-style you can combine several Church-Slavonic borrowings: незабвенная клятва, незабвенное знамя, незабвенное пламя etc.

In sum, незабываемый means unforgettable, impressing, while незабвенный is... infallable to oblivion (забвение means oblivion and similarly high-style).


To my ear "незабвенный" actually means the same as "незабытый" and not the same as "незабываемый". I'll try to explain.

Both English words you have contain the part "able" in them which suggests that their meaning has to do with the "ability to remember/recall" or "ability to forget" (negated with the prefix "un-"), rather than the actual fact of ever-presence in memory/mind.

To express similar attribute of something (event, object, notion) in Russian, "незабываемый" would be used. It has the passive voice form (the active voice form would be "незабывающий"). The adjective "забытый" (and "незабытый" as well) is formed from the perfect verb "забыть", whereas "[не-]забываемый" is formed from the imperfect verb "забывать".

"Незабытый" (rarely used, I think) means "one that wasn't forgotten", and "незабвенный" has the same meaning, while "незабываемый" means "one that can't be forgotten", "not able to be forgotten", "unforgettable".

  • 1
    забвенный is likely an adjective formed from "забвение", so it would mean something like "not forgotten". On the other hand, "незабываемый" is from a verb, so it means "that which is not being forgotten". These sorts of adjectives mean "being verbed" любимиый -being loved = beloved etc
    – VCH250
    Sep 17, 2015 at 6:47

Actually both незабвенный and незабываемый mean the very same thing. Yet the word незабвенный is of Church Slavonic origin, and thus it belongs exclusively to a "high-style" (or a parody on it). In everyday speech one should stick to незабываемый.

  • They do not mean the same thing. Незабываемый means unforgettable, impressing, while незабвенный is... infallable to oblivion.
    – Anixx
    Jan 7, 2019 at 23:04

Слово "незабвенный" в многих словарях дано с пометой (книжн.) - книжное, (высок.) - высокое, (торж.) - торжественное.


Слово же "незабываемый" стилистичекски нейтрально и может употребляться и в книгах и в разговорной речи. В разговорной речи слово "незабвенный" употребляется очень редко, а слово "незабываемый" употребляется в разговорной речи часто.

Word "незабываемый" neutral style and can be used and in books and in colloquial speech. In colloquial speech a word "незабвенный" is used very rarely, and a word "незабываемый" is used in colloquial speech often.


Незабвенный это прилагательное, что означает лишь придание другому слову усилению каких-то красок. В нашем случае это слово память. Незабвенная память, незабываемая, постоянная.

Вот пример, взят с сайта дословно.рф (https://дословно.рф/значение/незабвенный)

А незабвенный кот Бегемот, увековеченный в булгаковском романе, "аукнулся" москвичам появлением необычного призрака.

  • 1
    добро пожаловать на Russian.SE! Пожалуйста, старайтесь давать ответы, которые ещё не были даны или которые дополняют новые ответы.
    – shabunc
    Jul 11, 2019 at 7:45

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