Oчевидно, что знаний им не хватает, зато готовности рассуждать обо всем на свете хоть отбавляй.

I assume this is a figurative expression/predicate with the meaning of "(there's) plenty / more than enough (of something)", but I fail to see how "хоть + imperative" gets to have this meaning.

  • it means that they are so energetic and they are redy to do it at any time Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 10:19

3 Answers 3


The verb отбавить means 'to remove some (excessive) quantity', typically of an ingredient at cooking. So, the imperative отбавляй combined with хоть (=~if you like), means 'it's in such excess, that if you reduce it somehow, there would still be enough of it.'

Their lack of knowledge is evident, nevertheless, there's no shortage of their eagerness to discuss everything on earth.


ОТБА́ВИТЬ, отбавлю, отбавишь, совер. (к отбавлять), что и чего. Отделить, отнять, отлить, отсыпать и т.п. часть чего-нибудь. Отбавить воды из ведра. Отбавить муки из мешка.

The literary meaning is "to make less quantity". The figurative one is "too many, much". "Хоть отбавляй" shows a critical point, situation, meaning if you don't make it less, it will pour out of the container or explode, or do something negative. "Хоть " here expresses that you are forced to take some action to prevent a negative event.

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    Is it like: "You might as well pour off something extra"? I always associated "хоть" with the meaning "at least", which doesn't apply to this specific instance, I take it? Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 6:36
  • @Con-gras-tue-les-chiens yes, literally that's that, or "makes one want to pour off" Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 6:51

It looks like a set phrase. You cannot change it to "хоть убавляй", "хоть отнимай" or "хоть уменьшай".

But, generally speaking, it is not the only "хоть + imperative" construction in Russian. For example, widely used "хоть убей" means "for the life of..." and so are nearly synonymous "хоть лопни" and "хоть тресни". The construction "хоть кол на голове теши" is usually used to denote somebody who does not understand obvious things or ignores accepted rules - "Он не понимает, что его могут ограбить, хоть кол на голове теши" - "He does not accept the idea that he might be robbed, despite multiple attempts to explain to him".

One one might construct other clauses to denote practical impossibility or failed attempts to achieve something, even provided that certain extreme condition would be fulfilled. "Если не изучать грамматику, то не заговоришь на иностранном языке, хоть выучи наизусть десять словарей" - "If one does not study grammar, he/she will not speak a foreign language, even provided he/she had learnt ten dictionaries by heart".


There is another meaning of the construction "хоть <не> + imperative". It is used to denote the deeds that one might be forced to attempt to avoid negative outcome or vice versa might be forced not to attempt because it seems that they will result in highly probable fail or negative outcome.

"На улице холодно, хоть не выходи из дому" - "It is cold outside, I think it would be better not to go outside".

"Мою квартиру ограбили за три раза прошедший месяц, хоть переселяйся в другой район" - "My apartment was burglarized three times last month. I feel like I am forced to move to another neighbourhood".

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