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What is the meaning of the expression "уж уволь," as found in the lyrics of this Kino song, "Malysh"?

Is it something like "G-d help me already"?

How commonly is it used?

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Уж уволь, не могу

Here it means "Sorry, but I can't". It is a colloquial phrase and sounds a bit outdated nowadays.

It is a second meaning in this definition "let me avoid to do something unwanted".

УВО́ЛИТЬ, уволю, уволишь, совер., кого-что. 1. (несовер. увольнять). Освободить (на время или окончательно) от выполнения каких-нибудь обязанностей. «От должности увольте вы меня!» Некрасов. Уволить с военной службы. Уволить в отпуск. Уволить в отставку. Уволить по сокращению штатов. Уволить из школы.
2. Освободить, избавить от чего-нибудь (неприятного; употр. обычно в форме просьбы; разг.). «Увольте нас от своего посещения… сейчас же.» А.Островский. «-Выкушайте еще чашечку! - Нет, увольте!» А.Островский.

"Увольте нас от своего посещения…" - Please free us of your presense.

"-Выкушайте еще чашечку! - Нет, увольте!" - Drink one more cup! - No, thank you.

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  • 2
    One just has to make sure they don't tell that to their employer. Because the meaning is fairly direct, actually: “make me free (= fire me), I can't do that”. If one says that to one's employer, one risks being told, “okay, write the resignation letter, and I'll make you free” («хорошо, пишите заявление, я вас уволю»). – Evgeniy Feb 19 '17 at 17:15
  • As to “sounds a bit outdated nowadays”, I regularly encounter the phrase that I quoted (in this form exactly, with the word “bit”) and don't understand what it really means. It just occasionally arises somewhere, absolutely unpredictably and with no visible pattern. Therefore, not understanding what it means, I cannot argue with it anyhow, I just doubt whether such ?meaningless statements are useful… – Evgeniy Feb 19 '17 at 17:21
  • By the way: +1, anyway. – Evgeniy Feb 19 '17 at 17:53
  • @Evgeniy You must have very ehm... strange employer if he really could consider "уж уволь" as a real call to fire. While the idiom is indeed quite archaic, an employer must be very uneducated to not understand the non-literal meaning in any context (so one should quit himself as soon as possible before it's too late). – seven-phases-max Apr 15 '18 at 10:54
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Уволить (from воля [will, freedom]) — in modern Russian means to dismiss, to fire but still bears a strong connotation of to excuse. The most adequate translation of Уволь(те) меня от этого — may I be excused (rid) of that?

While уж can still mean already (like уже), here it is a modal particle and is used to reinforce a statement, playing the role of please, do.

So your expression means: Please, do excuse me (from doing that). Or, more colloquially, Let me not be involved already! :)

PS Check out this useful piece:

https://learningrussian.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/modal-particles/

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  • "Excuse" in the meaning of "release from a duty/allow not to do smth." looks like a very literal and exact translation, actually. – Headcrab Apr 16 '18 at 3:28
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«Уж уволь» means the same as «уволь». «Уж», just like all other such words, is like an article in English: it is, strictly speaking, unnecessary, but it expresses some thoughts that the speaker semi-unconsciously comes along, that's why it's useful. Just the articles have more rules that govern their usage; the Russian words of this nature are less systematic.

So, «уж» does not have to refer to the time of action; it may refer to having considered some thoughts. An example: «уж выслушай меня, пожалуйста» (~ “okay; but please listen to me”). Another example in the same line: «уж я не думаю, что Петя мог так легко пролезть в танк» — the word «уж» adds some ironic meaning to what's been said. Like “I understand everything, but I don't think that…”

In «уж уволь, не могу», the word «уволь» is a request: don't make me do that, because I can't, anyway. For its translation as “sorry, but I can't”, it's the word «уж» that adds the tone of an excuse. It comes to be: I can't, really

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  • Thanks. " Already" in English (in my usage) is also emphatic; much like «уж» , I think. – SAH Feb 19 '17 at 22:22
  • @SAH Maybe. I took it to say something like “I've waited for too long”, which is certainly not the case with «уж». It doesn't express, in the quote, such irritation that results from too much waiting. Rather, it's an irritation from too much thinking. – Evgeniy Feb 19 '17 at 23:23
  • Yeah, we use "already" that way (sometimes) in English, too – SAH Jun 28 '17 at 2:02
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Withdraw me from it or call me off it, or exclude me from it

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