I recently stumbled upon the following over in the English Language & Usage StackExchange:

What is a good synonym for “badass” that would be usable in a high school setting?

Truth be told, I stumbled upon it because after looking high and low for an equivalent to this word in Russian, my searches took me to a lot of different places. Initially, I went to Reverso and found the following here and here:





плохой парень

черт возьми


еще тот говнюк

I looked for each of these in Google's image search, but few, if any, gave me a warm and fuzzy that they were equivalents to the English. I was expecting to see men like you find in the movie 300, Daniel Craig in a Bond movie (whether in sweats or without), or Jean Claude van Damme in anything. But that isn't exactly what showed up. (See for yourself, if you'd like.)

I should also add that I wasn't necessarily looking for the "high school" equivalent of the word, but using the English post as an example or guide, if you could comment on the relative potential level to offend with any of the words above or any you add, that would be a plus.

Also, I am looking for equivalents of any kind -- those reserved exclusively for males, those for females,* and those that can be applied to both genders.

Anyone have any suggestions?

*If you need a visual here, I'm referring to women like:

Jennifer Lawrence as Catniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games

Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in the Tombraider series or as Evelyn in Salt

Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde

Additional Note:

For those of you who may still be thinking of answering this, I later stumbled upon this English site here:

Power Thesaurus entry for "badass"

I might have still had great difficulty tracking down some of the 121 synonyms that were listed, and seriously doubt I would have also been able to get the nuance in meaning that shabunc has already provided, but if you did want to contribute and add something that hasn't already been posted, it might give you some ideas.

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    "Крутой" seems to be the best one-word match, although it's generally used for denoting modern mobsters/racketeers/mafioso-type guys. You can also use "плохиш" if speaking in a jokingly manner. Aug 18, 2017 at 7:17
  • Reading back through my post, I think I hit the maximum quota for number of times you can use "stumbled upon" in a post. Perhaps I should use that "power thesaurus" for something other than "badass."
    – Lisa Beck
    Aug 18, 2017 at 10:42
  • 1
    if you can get use case you like in holywood action movies, then maybe you can just read the same scene in Russian subtitles, see russian.stackexchange.com/a/14884/9058
    – Arioch
    Aug 21, 2017 at 9:43
  • 1
    Бой-баба (ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/…) - for women, мачо (ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%87%D0%BE) - for men. I think it's the closest you can get, but the word is extremely difficult to translate. Sep 7, 2019 at 5:57

4 Answers 4


In some cases the best match would be сорвиголова. It's quite often translated to English as madcap but don't be put off by this, this translation is not precise.

Сорвиголова is exactly a badass - somebody who just boldly ignores dangers and perils, easily risks his own life, not an villain but hardly can be called a person of high morale.

For instance, Jack Sparrow is definitely сорвиголова.

There's another word, оторва which in some context means exactly badass:

А в камере было человек десять фронтовиков ― наших и власовцев, все ребята отчаюги, оторвы, где только ни воевали, ― так они чуть не загрызли этого профессора, рассвирепели

Nowadays, however this meaning is de-facto quite obsolete - оторва in it's main modern meaning is more about a woman being a badass, so it's less general.

As of words and phrase you've found:

  • отпадная, чёрт возьми are just wrong (the last one is actually just an exclamation, sort of "god damn it"
  • засранец, говнюк are just morons, not badasses ("тот ещё говнюк" is "such a moron", you can not use is in a sentence just like this - "пять тех ещё говнюков пытались отнять у неё кошелёк)
  • мордоплюй is about somebody being insolent, impudent, rude (it's an obsolete synonym of нахал)
  • крутой is more of a tough person.
  • задира is close to "bully".
  • плохой парень is well, just a bad guy.
  • плохиш (mentioned in a comment) - well, it has very ironical connotation and it's more about somebody who've ate all your chocolate without permission - but it's definitely not a badass.
  • What you've provided is good stuff. Ordinarily, I might have included Jack Sparrow in my list of examples, but my mother gave that nickname to her husband at a makeshift, low-key dinner party of sorts and, well, let's just say that the whole experience has been tainted to say the least. But with that opening example, I could see you understood my question. I'm going to keep this open for just a little while longer to encourage any worthwhile additions, but you're a strong contender for that green checkmark. Спасибо.
    – Lisa Beck
    Aug 18, 2017 at 10:22
  • I wonder if оторва originally should had mean person so devil may care that he/she considered totally detached from the regular family, village, caste, etc. phraseology.academic.ru/8163/…
    – Arioch
    Aug 21, 2017 at 9:45

I would advise you from using "сорвиголова" -- not because it lacks a right meaning, but because it is plainly outdated. Not completely obsolete, it nevertheless sounds somewhat weird in the modern speech, especially in the teenage argot.

My recommendation would be to make use of the adjective "лихой". To amplify its meaning, you may even consider placing it after the noun:

"он мужик лихой" or: "он парень лихой".

On specific occasions, you may say "конкретный пацан". Тhe applicability realm of this term is, however, relatively narrow. Usually, it is employed to describe a criminal type from the turbulent 90-s; a buddy who lives by the code of racketeer gangs and is tough in the street


In Russian modern culture there is no direct analog for "badass". All this variants sound unnatural in common speech.

Most often, when people want to express the idea, they use some examples of "badasses" from old and modern culture, like "Рэмбо" (film about Rambo had some impact on Russian post-USSR culture), or "Илья Муромец", or "Бэтман" (Batman - mostly in ironic sense) and so on.


I guess the word 'пиздатый' fits perfect for 'badass'. This word means 'peculiar, but at the same point cool', or more deeply 'it is very-very weird thing, but I kinda like it bc it is so uncommon and bizarre; it's dangerous, but nice'. When somebody says that your work is 'пиздатая' or you made a 'пиздатый' drawing, you can't know exactly it is a compliment or actually no, it is more actually about how your thing is sooo strange, but kind of bearable. But in most it is used with a positive meaning. Also, it is a swear, so I'd recommend you to use it only with your friends.

  • 2
    honestly it doesn't, "пиздатый" it's just obscene counterpart of "awesome".
    – shabunc
    Sep 10, 2019 at 19:13

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