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After consulting a couple of dictionaries (that don't always agree with each other), I have found this list of translations:

Brother-in-law:

  • sister's husband: зять
  • wife's brother: шурин
  • husband's brother: деверь
  • wife's sister's husband: свояк

Sister-in-law:

  • brother's wife: невестка or золовка
  • wife's sister: свояченица
  • husband's sister: золовка

As you can see, the word золовка appears twice (this is where my dictionaries disagree), and I have no translation for "husband's sister's husband", "wife's brother's wife", and "husband's brother's wife".

Can somebody please help med with corrections and additions?

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  • 6
    It is probably worth adding to the great answers below that you shouldn’t get too obsessed over these words in practice as pretty much no Russian speakers know them anyway.
    – kirelagin
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 15:48

2 Answers 2

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The dictionaries are pretty unanimous in that золовка is husband's sister. Some of them, including the Dahl's dictionary, add that it also could be a regional designation for brother's wife.

a) husband's brother's wife = невестка, сноха

жена жене брата мужа – НЕВЕСТКА, или СНОХА

b) wife's brother's wife = сноха

Жена брата жены – это сноха.

c) husband's sister's (female cousin's) husband - свояк

Если у вашего горячо любимого мужа есть родная сестра, то вам она, прежде всего, приходится золовкой. Если же она пребывает в браке, то ее муж вам доводится свояком, ибо все мужчины, женатые на сестрах, имеют такое название.

Почти у всех нас есть двоюродные сестры, которых мы очень любим и желаем им счастья. Рано или поздно они создают свои семьи, а ее родственники потом думают – муж двоюродной сестры кем приходится нам? Он точно так же является свояком, так как мужчины, женатые на сестрах, пусть и двоюродных, называются свояками.

So i guess the rule is that all sisters' husbands are свояки and all brothers' wives are снохи or невестки for the same generation relatives.

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There's no such thing like one-two-one correspondence between words in one language and another one, however, as of золовка, to my knowledge it's always about husband's sister (while brother's wife is always невестка).

There's also no obligation in any language to have specific term for any kind of relations. Actually husband's sister's husband can be called зять which stands for "муж дочери, сестры, золовки или племянницы". However, I assure you that the majority of native speaker will have very hard times trying to answer this question out of the top of their head.

Wife's brother's wife is невестка as well - the same word as for son's wife. There was also word сношенница which was used for indicate relations between to men wife's, one can find it in Dal's dictionary:

Сношени́ца, влд. тмб. жена деверя, жены двух братьев друг другу

but this one is obsolete, nobody uses it as of now.

Those relationships were more important in older societies and therefore as of now this terminology is gradually getting erased from usage.

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