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Ништяк is a Russian slang term meaning cool, it's very good.

According to this article, it can also mean:

  • tasty (mostly sweet) food; cookie
  • food that has been thrown away but is going to be eaten by someone else
  • something regarded as good and gotten for free

But what is ништяк literally? It sounds a bit like ниша but I see there is no connection...

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Ништяк is a nominalization of ништо, which is a colloquial pronunciation of ничего.

Ничего, in its turn, means "not bad, good enough".

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  • 3
    imho it's more like "Great, awesome" than merely "not bad, good enough".
    – Alexander
    Mar 8 '19 at 9:05
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    @Alexander: are you saying that — Как дела? — Ничего means "How are you?" "Awesome" ?
    – Quassnoi
    Mar 8 '19 at 10:59
  • 1
    @Quassnoi Haven't ever thought about that before! Thank you.
    – Dmitry
    Mar 8 '19 at 12:59
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    @Quassnoi in your example (again, in my opinion) "Ничего" = "Ok", but "Ништяк" = "Better than Ok"
    – Alexander
    Mar 8 '19 at 17:21
  • @Alexander: I might not have been clear in my post, is it better now?
    – Quassnoi
    Mar 8 '19 at 18:20
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This is a slang word, it means good/great. Example:

А: Как дела? Б: Ништяк.

А: Ты успел доделать задание? Б: Да. А: Ништяк.

Also this word can mean a little but desirable present at that moment, like candy or muffin. Example:

А: Я тебе ништяк принес. Б: О, спасибо.

А: Купишь ништяков? Б: Да.

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There is another hypothesis that this word derives from « nishtak » (נשתק, meaning « we’ll get calm » in Hebrew). It became part of fenya, the criminals’ slang, and then, of the colloquial Russian language, with the meaning of « cool » or « awesome ».

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    this is very doubtful, because the Hebrew word is נשתוק - nishtOk, not nishtAk, plus semantically it's quite a stretch, there's another hypothesis, that it originates from the German nicht schlecht - not bad through Yiddish נישט שלעכט Mar 8 '19 at 15:55
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I'd say that "ништяк" associates with "ничего себе", which means "wow". And often the meaning is "вау ништяк". However the "wow effect" of a "ништяк" might be weak (depends on the context).

Another similar, but different meaning is "кайф", or "ништяк кайфово", which means "kaif", "high", "buzz", denoting very high excitement.

Not very often, "ништяк" can be used as a noun, where it means something blurred between a feature, an interesting thing, and a gift. It can be also in plural "ништяки". For example, "Дед мороз принёс нам кучу ништяков". "В сервис добавили много новых ништяков". "Я там тебе пару ништяков на окне оставил."

It can be also used in an adverbial form "ништячно" or "ништяково", which means "cool". But more often people will say short "ништяк". For example: "а ты ништяк поёшь" (could use adverbial form here) or "а ты поёшь ништяк".

Similarly, it can be an adjective "ништячный" or "ништяковый". Examples: "а штаны у тебя ништяк", "а у тебя ништяк штаны", "ништяковые штаны", "ништячные штаны".

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Ништяк - это означает: круто, здорово, зашибись, обалденно, превосходно, классно. Радость и восторг. ништячкИ (мн.ч.) ништячок (ед.ч.) - это означает приятные вещи, сладости, вкуснятину

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It seems that no one answered the question correctly. Ништяк is a nominalization of Gipsy (Roma) word "mishto" that literally means "good". For the Russian speakers "mishto" sounds very closely to "ничто" (nominative case) or "ничего" (same word in genitive case). While it literally means "nothing", its colloquial meaning is "not bad", "good", "okay" and so on.

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  • Do you have any references for this theory? Why would it be borrowed from Roma of all things? Dec 12 '20 at 12:01

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