Why does походить mean to be similar in appearance to"? When would you use the verb and when would you use the adjective "похожий"? I don'y quite get the logic being why a motion verb means to be similar in appearance.

Is it possible to say "Он походит на отца"?

how is that different from "он похож на отца"?

  • 4
    @DK It's not like похожий isn't derived from ходить too. Commented May 17, 2016 at 1:29

6 Answers 6


If you are interested in the logic, you may consider the verbs сойти за (and related adjective схожий) and проходить как.

The logic here is probably similar to that of the English phrase pass as/for and may be related to the process of security pass control (hence password): if you look like the right person you may go.

All of this is my personal opinion and not a result of a scientific research.


он похож на отца

This is OK.

oн походит на отца

This is weird and too bookish. The verb походить (in the meaning be alike) is too bookish and somewhat outdated in general. The common meaning of походить is to be visiting some place for a while like in "я походил на курсы немецкого языка, но ничему не научился" or "walk over something for a while" like in "я походил по улице ещё час и пошел домой".

  • But in past tense this verb is used often because "он походил на отца" is shorter than "он был похож на отца" Commented May 17, 2016 at 5:44
  • @Pavel Mayorov I don't think it is used often, everything I wrote applies to the past tense too.
    – Anixx
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 10:06

Both sentences sound absolutely perfect to me. It really matters what you put after "походить". Походить на is to have something in common with someone , to be alike. Походить по горам, Походить по магазинам. To walk in the mountains. Do shopping , in a sense of walking from one shop to another without necessary buying anything.


Походить is in the class of Russian abstract verbs. Its counterparts, идти and пойти, are concrete verbs.

My impression is that походить expresses something along the lines of "to walk (in step with something)"; so to say "Они походят" would translate to something like "They are walking (in tune/in step/in line)", i.e. they are similar to each other.

As for when to use походить or похож, the verb form is more antiquated, used primarily in literary contexts while похож is most common in colloquial speech.

  • 3
    No. The original and earliest literal meaning of по is "after"; the meaning of походить на is much more likely that of one thing "walking [=taking] after" another than two things falling in. Commented May 17, 2016 at 1:52
  • Yea, i was thinking that too. Like" he goes, went like his father". It makes some sense actually.
    – VCH250
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 9:57

Он походит на отца. Это значит, что характер, поведение такое же самое как у отца. Он похож на отца. Значит он внешне похож на отца.

  • 1
    Походить на кого-то - не звучит странно, просто немного книжное выражение. Нужно больше читать и нормальный, красивый русский язык не будет казаться weird. Commented May 20, 2016 at 20:28
  • Пожалуйста, не оставляйте два ответа на один и тот же вопрос.
    – shabunc
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 23:12

I think походить in its two distinct meanings seems to be rather line the French aller which denotes movement but also the abstract concept of being.

  • it's not an abstract concept of being, it's "looks like"
    – shabunc
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 23:43
  • and probably is akin to English to pass for Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 14:11

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