I encountered three different words to say "lover".

My teacher said that сожитель has a negative connotation, it is rather "plebish", but I don't actually understand what kind of bad connotation it has.

фаворит, as she said, is used for lovers of kings and queens.

любовник should be a more general term.

Can you please explain the difference between these three words, according to you? How would you use them?

  • 1
    I think in some cases you can use "влюбленный". For instance Valentine's Day is called in Russia as "День всех влюбленных".
    – Artemix
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 13:52
  • Comment that "favourite" (US "favorite"), an adjective used as a noun, is perfectly idiomatic in English for the second option. It is rather archaic, however, just as others have stated about the Russian word.
    – David
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 23:35
  • фаворит is not simply a lover of a king, but rather a lover of any ruler which influences ruler at a degree that he/she can make ruler make certain decisions. Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 12:35
  • "My teacher said that the сожитель has a negative connotation" - this isn't so much negative as it is formally absolute. And that is precisely why and for this particular subject it brings negative connotation. This is the language spoken in the police, court or morgue. :) ................... "фаворит, as she said, is used for lovers of kings and queens." - This is true. So this can hint that you consider yourself at least a Queen. :) And you have a lot of these... chevaliers. :) Well, on all sorts of other things related to this issue. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 12:30
  • Horses are also called "фаворит" at the hippodrome. Those who run faster than others. Also the connotation. :> Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 12:31

4 Answers 4


Сожитель indeed has some negative connotation for me. It doesn't mean "lover" in a sense that it is a partner for a married person, but it simply means people living together and having a relationship while not being officially married. I would usually see it in official sources (news etc.), which often report some negative occurrences and thus lead to this word having a bad connotation for me. One would rarely call his\her partner сожитель, we would rather usе мой парень\моя девушка. Although this word can sometimes be used in the same sense as любовник and even муж (husband), though I can't recall it being used often with these meanings.

Фаворит is explained correctly.

Любовник\любовница is a general term for a person you have a relationship with while being married (who is not your husband or wife, obviously).

  • 1
    Любовники can also be used for two partners (possibly married) who passionately love each other.
    – Aleks N.
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 10:29
  • 4
    I don't agree on that. Любовник/любовница you use to name a sexual partner. Only in half of the cases it might imply that a partner is married, but it's not a must.
    – UVV
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 11:14
  • 2
    Usually one encounters word сожитель in criminal news like "A woman was wounded by сожитель" etc.
    – Artemix
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 13:45
  1. Cожитель

To understand what is wrong with сожитель, you need to know the meaning of concubinage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concubinage). This word stresses the idea of the inability of further marriage, which makes these relations less legitimate.

Additionally сожитель is somehow related to Soviet crime law as it was stated before.

  1. Фаворит

Фаворит is outdated. Totally agree with your teacher.

  1. Любовник

Любовник translates directly into English as "lover". Nothing more to add.


I believe the word сожитель has a further negative connotation of someone who takes advantage of the person who provides room, board and physical side of the affair. Сожитель is essentially a parasite - contributing next to nothing to their partner's well-being, but steadily consuming the financial, emotional, physical and temporal resources of the person with whom they are cohabiting.


1.сожитель - one who you lives with someone in the same appartments and have intimate (sexual) relationships with him. Feminine - сожительница. 2.любовник = lover. Feminine - любовница. 3.фаворит = archaism, nowadays it is not in use. Means a favorite lover of a high-level person (king, prince, sultan, etc). Something like favorite concubine. Feminine - фаворитка. Once I worked at a publishing office, so that I had to get translated words like these ( due to translation agency, Technolex Translations, of course). I think фаворит isn't used nowadays in Russian, meanwhile любовник is a wider term, may be applied in more cases.

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