Plan B is a secondary plan that you could fall back on in case Plan A, so to speak, didn't pan out as expected. The notion of "switching to Plan B" exists in English {Plan B}, French {le plan B}, German {Plan B}, Italian {piano B} etc.

What is an idiomatic way to express the idea of "switching to Plan B" in Russian? Is a single alphabet commonly used instead of an adjective like "запасной"?

запасной / запасный план

  • 4
    In short: yes, it's the same "План Б" thing (probably correctly expressed as план «Б»). Apr 7, 2018 at 8:54
  • 7
    план "Б" is a copycat of English expression for translation of English phrases. Like the ниггер word was introduced into Russia to translate "dark action" American detectives of 1970-s. Outside of the scope they were created for - for Plan B it is translating foreign documents and speeches - this idiom can be rarely met. Maybe eventually it would stuck, becoming yet another "borrowed word", who knows. As of now I would stick with "запасной план". Notice however, "plan B" implies there can be plan C, plan D and so on. "Backup plan" (or would it be "fall-back plan"?) implies last chance.
    – Arioch
    Apr 7, 2018 at 9:10
  • @Arioch I believe this is perfectly valid to be an answer actually
    – shabunc
    Apr 7, 2018 at 9:16
  • @shabunc thanks. But there is no hurry. Maybe someone would come up with more comprehensive detailed info. It never is too late to learn new tricks :-D
    – Arioch
    Apr 7, 2018 at 9:18
  • @Arioh, I'd say it's not that rare these days, e.g. club, series etc. (sorry for spam links - I'll delete later). Aside of that I'm pretty sure the languages listed by Alone-zee also borrowed it not so long ago (just because it's not that old in English itself). But in general you're right of course, it's not "genuine Russian". Apr 7, 2018 at 10:43

2 Answers 2


A common phrase in Russian is "запасной вариант". Here is a chart comparing frequency of usage "запасной вариант" vs "запасной план".

Examples of usage:

  • Был пущен в ход запасной вариант. / Plan B was executed.

  • Пошёл в ход запасной вариант. / Plan B was executed.

  • У него всегда есть запасной вариант. / He always has an alternative plan.

  • Она не рассматривала запасных вариантов. / She did not consider alternative plans.

  • good call...... the Corpora data on "запасной план" is illuminating, not that it's totally wrong but isn't yet enough settled within the language phraseology, other than that запасной вариант isn't a very good fit in the context of the actual worked out detailed plan, which would need a more precise term Apr 10, 2018 at 18:06

Оther options are альтернативный план, резервный план

And so the idea of "switching to Plan B" may be expressed as

вводить в действие / задействовать ... план // переходить к ... плану

less formally

переключаться на ... план (technically possible, but is somewhat unusual)

or highly informally

включать / запускать ... план

  • Never heard anyone saying "альтернативный план". Only "запасной план" or "план бэ" (though it is yet considered slangish)
    – Alissa
    Apr 10, 2018 at 11:56
  • neither have i, which doesn't mean it can't be used or is wrong, as long as there's no universally acceptable readily recognizable stable collocation, and it's meaning is crystal clear and Google gives loads of examples, i don't think your "only" is well warranted Apr 10, 2018 at 14:20
  • пример - Альтернативного плана - «плана Б» - по урегулированию израильско-палестинского конфликта не существует Apr 10, 2018 at 15:03

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