This word, халява, it is interesting. Google translate translates it as "freebie", but Russian students use it to describe a situation when they didn't study for a test and get an "A" anyway. "Freebie" doesn't really apply here. Google image search turns up a lot of interesting pictures for халява. But finding an English equivalent is proving taxing. I'm thinking of:

"blind idiot luck" * gravy train * sependipity *

but I don't think any of those are exact translations.

  • in my dictionary, freebie is translated as что-либо, полученное бесплатно, задаром, "на халяву", and if this is correct, then it applies perfectly to the situation with students, that you described.
    – d.k
    Nov 14, 2015 at 10:05
  • also халява means 'a prostitute'
    – d.k
    Nov 14, 2015 at 10:06
  • 5
    @user907860 Never heard this. "Шалава" maybe?
    – Matt
    Nov 14, 2015 at 13:30
  • 3
    Question was closed here, with suggestion to ask in ELL. But in ELL, how many people understand what халява is? Jan 20, 2016 at 15:10

2 Answers 2


The word халява is sometimes used when you get something without any kind of work (not only without money). So in this situation student got "A" without work (studying) and called it халява.
Easy work itself also can be халява. For example, you could say in dialog:

— Чем сейчас на работе занимаешься?
— Да ничем. Сижу за компьютером, смотрю в монитор, изредка нажимаю кнопку, чтобы дверь кому-нибудь открыть...
— Вот халява!

As far as I know, there is no full equivalent of word халява in English.


Russian students use it to describe a situation when they didn't study for a test and get an "A" anyway

This meaning is really specific to student slang. Especially "the magic spell": Халява, ловись!

But colloquially халява still has two meanings:

  • a thing given (or even taken, sometimes ;-) for free (or at very little price), i.e. freebie
  • a work done badly; here халява is very close to another nice word халтура, though there's a little difference: халява is about lazyness, while халтура is about negligence

So халява in student slang is something like both at once: no learning (lazy working) and getting good marks ("freebies").

  • 3
    you are wrong. халтура - is a work done badly, equally due to idleness, or without one. Халява - is never a work done badly. It is only a result, something acquired without putting too much effort. So if one did some work badly he calls it only халтура, but if the customer, for instance, accepted such a work, then one can call all this situation халява
    – d.k
    Nov 14, 2015 at 14:52
  • 1
    @user907860 Well, at least in my personal opinion халява is both a "free stuff" and any (easy) process of getting it.
    – Matt
    Nov 14, 2015 at 15:09
  • yes, this is correct, but the second item in the list is not correct
    – d.k
    Nov 14, 2015 at 15:12
  • Never heard definition #2. The undeserved payoff from a badly done work is, however, perfectly covered under the first definition :) Nov 16, 2015 at 21:43

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