In the following sentence, given that дай is an imperative form (and singular at that), I have to assume that только дай повод is an idiom:

Я знаю, что вам только дай повод надо мной поиздеваться, но для меня много значит, чтобы она вам понравилась.

What would be the interpretation of this idiom and could you cite more examples of its usage?

  • would not say it's explicitly idiomatic (только дай повод), they did that before and they ready to do that again if they will have chance. It's more expression of perception and let them know about relations, pretty close relations, pretty close to demand something in shake of those relations, indirectly, it could be replaced Я вас знаю, вам бы только поиздеваться .... What idiomatic here is the word поиздеваться. It kinda semijoke in that case, half joke half warning(in context of sentence) - this time is special and it have to be that way, not as usual way.
    – MolbOrg
    Jul 29, 2016 at 6:36

3 Answers 3


You are right, it is an idiom. Sometimes it is also used in the form "дай только повод".

The meaning is like "give him a chance, and he'll immediately do it".

This second implicit part can sometimes be given explicitly, in which case the idiom becomes almost a literal:

Тебе только дай повод, и ты опять сбежишь.

But generally it is used in situations similar to your example:

Нашей собаке только дай повод залезть в воду!

Give our dog a chance to get into water, and it will immediately jump in.


I take it more as "normal sentence" than an idiom.

Russian imperative is used to express a conditional clause, e.g.: "тебе что ни скажи, всё не так".

So you may interpret it like this: "вам только дай повод надо мной поиздеваться" --> "[if] only you were given a chance (occasion) to mock me [you'd readily do this]".


ПОВОД, повода, мн. ы, м. Случай, обстоятельство, которое можно использовать с какой-нибудь целью, предлог.(Circumstances which can be used for a certain purpose, pretext ).

Повод для ссоры. Придираться по всякому поводу.

Дать или подать повод кому-чему -to give someone an opportunity to act or think in a certain way. To submit an event which will serve as the beginning of the action.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.