Wiktionary gives the following definitions of дерзкий, наглый, and нахальный:


  1. brazen, impudent, impertinent, insolent, cheeky, pert

  2. bold, daring, audacious


impudent, impertinent, insolent, barefaced


  1. impudent, insolent, impertinent

  2. saucy, cheeky

I see imprudent, impertinent, and insolent in the definitions of each of the three Russian words - дерзкий, наглый, and нахальный.

However, looking at various examples of use of these three Russian words in the Internet, I got an intuitive feeling that they have pretty different connotations or flavors.

My question is this: What is the difference between дерзкий, наглый, and нахальный, especially when they describe a verbal response? I am especially curious to see examples of three different situations involving a verbal response to which, respectively, the following three expressions are most applicable: (1) это дерзкий ответ, (2) это наглый ответ, (3) это нахальный ответ.


Answers below made me confused, because my original impression was somewhat different. My original impression was that these three words denote the same thing and that the difference is only in the attitude or relationship of the speaker to the guy about whom the speaker is talking: Если наш - то дерзкий парень, а если их - то наглый нахал.

Imagine a guy who cuts a traffic jam line. Am I wrong in understanding that if it is your friend, you will say, "Mолодец, дерзко подрезал", and if he is not your friend and cuts the line right in front of you, your will react, "Нахал, нагло пролез"?

My original impression was partially based on this:

(1) Будем делать ракеты »: Путин дерзко ответил Трампу. (Source)

(2) Путин нагло пересек красную черту - реакция Порошенко на выдачу паспортов РФ в Украине. (Source)

As you see, a Russian says about Putin using the word дерзкo, and a Ukrainian - using the word нагло. I even found а Youtube video entitled "Путин дерзко ответил наглому украинцу." This title seems to perfectly tell who the author is with.

Is my impression wrong?

2 Answers 2


Those the words indeed have different connotations. Ответ can be дерзкий, наглый but нахальный usually refers to a person, his character and sounds odd when used with ответ, but not strictly wrong.

Дерзкий is usually a positive word, closer to courageous, daring, bold, but also cheeky, audacious. Журналист задавал певице дерзкие вопросы, от которых она краснела.

Наглый is more negative or neutral. Implies being selfish and possibly inconsiderate of others. Он нагло пролез к кассе без очереди.

Нахальный is always negative. A stronger meaning than наглый, implying the person is more of a nuisance to others, offensive, etc., where as наглый might just mean impolite or breaking social conventions. Он нахально оставил машину на тротуаре, загородив вход.

  • 8
    in my experience and to my understanding наглый is worse than нахальный, the former totally and inherently lacks a sense of shame and consciousness by his nature, and unlike нахальство, наглость doesn't have to manifest by action, it's the mere attitude, but of course the boundaries here are pretty much arbitrary and fluid Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 6:43
  • True enough! Наглый is more about attitude and general character. I was thinking, a cat could be наглый but people still love him for it, but you wouldn't call a cat нахал without it being tongue in cheek.
    – Curiosity
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 14:39
  • @БаянКупи-ка and Curiosity: Your answers made me somewhat confused; please have a look at the update to my post.
    – Mitsuko
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 1:10
  • @Mitsuko you're not wrong. What part of my answer made you confused? Your update agrees with my answer more or less.
    – Curiosity
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 6:02
  • 1
    Thanks a lot for the explanation; I see now.
    – Mitsuko
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 10:07

involving a verbal response

  1. дерзкий has only negative connotations: provoking, aggressive, incendiary (but truly can be positive in a different context)
  2. наглый is the same but more expressive, I would also say it sounds more informal
  3. нахальный is, first of all, marked as informal in dictionaries and supposes more arrogance, shamelessness and the lack of considerateness.

To sum up: these three words mean the same thing, while their expressiveness grows and the formality drops. All three can be applied to either actions (responses) or people.

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