Amongst it's many meanings, I gleaned from the following sentence that it can refer to death. Is it completely synonymous with умереть or is it nuanced?

Цветы пропа́ли от мороза.

6 Answers 6


Цветы пропали от мороза.

You can say that the meaning is died but actually they were spoiled by frost.. But the stronger verb is погибли. If you say погибли от мороза,the verbs are complete synonyms.

  • 1
    I didn't think of that one; it probably makes the most sense. Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 19:47
  • @NikolayErshov: So here it means that they dwindled away?
    – CocoPop
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 20:02
  • 1
    @CocoPop More like they were ruined, in the sense that the speaker or subject of the narrative had placed some value in those flowers. Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 20:10

Literal meaning of пропа́сть is to disappear and other meanings are based on it. Here is description from Ozhegov dictionary:

III. ПРОПА́СТЬ, -аду, -адёшь; -ал, -ала; -ади; -авший; -ав; совер.

  1. Исчезнуть неизвестно куда. Пропали нужные бумаги. П. на неделю (не приходить целую неделю).

  2. Перестать быть видимым или слышимым. Очертания корабля пропали в тумане. Отзвуки голосов пропали в лесу.

  3. Утратиться, исчезнуть; погибнуть. Пропал голос, румянец. Нигде не пропадёт (о том, кто ловок, находчив; разг.). Ни за грош пропал (совершенно напрасно, зря; разг.). С ним не пропадёшь! (всё будет в порядке, если он помогает, поддерживает; разг.).

  4. (1-ое лицо и 2-е лицо не употр.). Пройти бесполезно, безрезультатно. Зря пропало время. Весь день пропал.

And умереть is used to describe process of transition from state of life to the state of death , like in жил человек и умер. In Russian language flowers do not live. That is funny because there is a phrase 'живые цветы', but it is used only to distinguish them from artificial ones and verb жить is not applicable to noun цветы. So, in case of цветы verbs умереть and пропа́сть are not synonymous. пропа́сть in this case synonymous to погибнуть that has meaning of destruction as result of outer forces.

  • Thank you for that, Anatoly. That is very interesting. In English, we don't often use the phrase "flowers live," however there are occasions when we refer to their "life": "flowers can't live without water, oxygen and light" -or- "the chamber has artificial light and oxygen piped in and is so stable and flowers can live and grow in it." How would Russian handle these examples?
    – CocoPop
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 13:34
  • 1
    well, you can use verb жить with flowers in scientific context in same sense as with signal, for instance, время жизни сигнала or цветы не живут без кислорода. But in colloquial/layman usage it will be always растёт (grow) since flower are not considered animated or have soul and even in biological context the right term is произрастает. Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 14:04

in relation to flowers and edibles it's to spoil, become unusable, go bad, be gone


Погибнуть, умереть - одно из нескольких значений слова пропасть.

Значение №5. Глагол пропасть это ⇔ утратиться, исчезнуть; погибнуть; Пример употребления: пропал голос, румянец. нигде не пропадет ( о том, Кто Ловок, находчив; разг. ). ни за грош пропал ( совершенно напрасно, зря; разг. ). с ним не пропадешь! ( все будет в порядке, Если он помогает, поддерживает; разг. );



That's a surprising usage of пропасть. I'm not even sure what it means exactly, that the flowers were gone ("disappeared") or that they were "doomed". Both are possible meanings of the verb, which is definitely not synonymous with умереть, not least because it can also refer to going missing. Погибнуть, to perish, is the verb one would more naturally use to refer to flowers hit by frost.

The most generic translation I can think of for пропасть is "be lost" (всё пропало! "all is lost", у меня пропал голос "I've lost my voice", etc.) When it refers to death, it's most often with the "doomed" or "done for" connotations.

  • That's very interesting. ¿So you could say "Если начальник будет узнавать об этом, я пропал!"
    – CocoPop
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 20:01
  • not surprising at all to me Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 20:11
  • @CocoPop I'd say если начальник узнает (unless you mean there will have been several episodes of the boss finding out before disaster strikes), but basically yes. Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 20:13
  • @NikolayErshov: So in summary, to say that somebody пропал doesn't mean they died, just that you haven't seen them for a while, correct? ¿Do you also use it the way we use "missing"? "The neighbor's kid went missing last year" -or- "He's been missing since last May"
    – CocoPop
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 13:27
  • 1
    @CocoPop There's not really a catch-all general meaning for the different usages of пропасть, just the various derivatives of its long-obsolete literal meaning of "fall through" (modern Russian провалиться, which in the meantime has developed its own independent set of metaphorical meanings.). Yes, it's an equivalent of "missing" including in reports and on official notices. Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 13:36

The verb "пропа'сть" shares the same origin with a noun "про'пасть", which means a gulf, a deep narrow hole in a ground. For this reason, I think, "пропа'сть" is not an exact synonym of "умереть". I would rather interpret this word as "to disappear into nowhere".

I think, 'Цветы пропали от мороза' actually means that the frozen blossoms quickly fell apart and disappeared.

  • you are wrong, those words share same origin the verb was not derived from noun.
    – shabunc
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 3:01
  • @shabunc, I corrected my answer per your comment.
    – Noviff
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 3:08

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