Elle n'est pas de l'étoffe dont on fait les copines...

  • {literally}: She's not of the material from which we make girlfriends.

То express the idea of "she's not (X)girlfriend material", "she's not cut out to be anyone's (X)girlfriend", in French you say something like above with the word "étoffe" corresponding to "material / fabric".

In conversation, I'd probably say something like:

Хорошая из нее девушка не выйдет.

How is this idea commonly/idiomatically expressed in Russian?

  • I've read the answers. I can see the 'on' in the French original, which suggests that the original does not necessarily imply the "suitability" of a girl for someone in particular but refers to certain qualities of a girl that make her unsuitable to the role of a girlfriend (in the eyes of whoever dares to judge by saying this). If that's correct it makes sense to clarify whether any particular qualities are usually held in mind when such a phrase is said. There might be more specifc idioms in Russian for this. An example, not fit for this specific phrase: На таких не женятся.
    – tum_
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 12:38
  • 1
    If we forget about girlfriends and focus on l'étoffe - a similar Russian expression is "(слеплен) не из того теста". Wouldn't work for girlfriends, though. See, sometimes the choice of an example is important )
    – tum_
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 22:49

7 Answers 7


You got the idiom right.

"Not smbd./smth. material" would be плохой из него выйдет кто-то/что-то, with выйдет frequently omitted:

He's not employee material // Скверный из него работник

He's not scientist material // Учёный из него не ахти


However, there is one complication in your particular example.

There is no single word in Russian which would (unequivocally) translate to English "girlfriend" without any additional clarifications, and if you want to use девушка, you should specify моя девушка or его девушка for this to mean "girlfriend" and not just a "girl".

Without this specification, your phrase would mean "she's not girl material" and this is not exactly what the English phrase means.

To fix it, you could stuff the possessive into this phrase somehow:

Неважная из неё выйдет ему девушка

, but that would mean she'll not a girlfriend material for him (although she might make someone else happy).

As @M.Herzkamp noticed, you can turn it into a negative statement:

Не выйдет из неё никому хорошей девушки

Alternatively, you could make it not about her but about the relationship:

Серьёзных отношений с ней не выйдет.

  • Неважной она ему будет девушкой -- How about никому instead of ему?
    – M.Herzkamp
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 13:14
  • "Не важной (separately here) она будет никому девушкой" will mean that she will be a girl who is not significant to anyone. It changes the meaning.
    – Elena
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 11:08


Не годится она тебе в подруги / пассии (this is high register, sounds too posh)

Не выйдет из неё хорошей подруги / пассии (same as above) / тебе пары

As Quassnoi has noted in this context this concept would usually be expressed in a way whereby suitability of qualities is judged with a particular person in mind rather than generally.


oна тебе не пара

But this could mean both she is too good or too bad for you depending on intonation.

  • Она не создана для того, чтобы быть подругой.
  • Я бы ее не взял в подруги.

Она не из того теста.

It will suit different contexts.


Russian does pretty well without naming concrete materials in such expressions. Still often, but mostly in colloquial speech, the word коленкор, 'calico, a kind of textile to cover book binding', is used in Russian in situations similar to the one you described.

Generally, it is a synonym of дело, 'thing, business', and very often it is used in the phrase не тот коленкор meaning 'of a different kind; made of different clay/material/fabric', for example:

Она точно не работает ни в каком журнале, это ясно. Не тот коленкор. Бабы там совсем не такие, не такие аферистки. [Людмила Петрушевская. Слабые кости (1992)] — She definitely doesn't work for the magazine, that's clear. She's of a different kind. The women who work there are different, not such frauds [as she is].

As for your girlfriend example, I'd put it this way:

Не выйдет из неё хорошей подруги, не тот коленкор.

  • 2
    If someone says [Не тот коленкор] I would not understand what this person just said. For all my life I've never met such a word. Not in writing, nor in live communication. I give you 99% guaranty if I go out at the street right now and ask 10 random people, what [Не тот коленкор] means, they will say, that they do not know.
    – Tchibi-kun
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 18:32
  • @Tchibi-kun nowadays it's quite rare indeed, i'd class it as dated, it was current in Soviet times, for example the citation is from a 1988 year novel Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 19:14
  • @Tchibi-kun - Ngram Viewer has evidence that the expression не тот коленкор is used well into the 2000s.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 19:34
  • 1
    I do not know what you mean by [used well], but Nrgram shows [сказал] = 0.25 [привет] = 0.07 [совсем другое дело‬] = 0.0057 [не тот коленкор‬] = 0.000024. To my feelings of numbers, the usage of [не тот коленкор‬] can not be treated as [used well] wording. Speaking about myself, I heard that there is [не тот коленкор‬] first time in my life only today.
    – Tchibi-kun
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 19:53
  • 1
    @Tchibi-kun - О сколько нам открытий чудных / Готовят просвещенья дух / И Опыт, сын ошибок трудных, / И Гений, парадоксов друг. (А. С. Пушкин)
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 20:19

not of the material from

100% Russian idiom is [не из того теста].

Хорошая из нее девушка не выйдет.

  1. Your composition sounds a bit unnatural. In this case they say
    [Хорошей девушки из неё не выйдет.]
    And this it exaclty what is commonly used wording for this case.
  2. Anyway, this wording does not give 100% meaning, that it is about girlfriend.
    [хорошая девушка] litteraly means [good girl], but [good girlfriend] is the secondary meaning, which should be somehow exressed explicitly.

There is a problem with my Russian mentality.
I do not understand what [good girlfriend] is.
I do understand what [good wife] is, but I do not understand what [good girlfriend] is.

For me #1. for [good wife] is not to fuck other men.
But I can not say, that for [good girlfriend] not to fuck other men is a requirement.

If we say, that for [good girlfriend] not to fuck other men is a is a requirement, then we consider that girl as future wife, and in this case, we should say if she is ok or not ok as [good wife], but not [good girlfriend].

So, in my meaning, [girlfriend] does not mean, that she is 100% is future wife, and therefore there is no reason to say anything on if she is good or not. The only thing that matters is if I want to have sex with her or not. If I want, she is a girlfriend, if I do not want, she is not a girlfriend.

If we are going to speak about how good sex with her, it is not about [good girlfriend] [хорошая девушка], it is about [good lover] [хорошая любовница].

Let's think from other side.
If there is such thing as [good girlfriend], there must be such thing as [bad girlfriend].
But in my mentality [bad girlfriend]-s do not exists at all.
If I feel negative about my girlfriend she is not [bad girlfriend] is not [girlfriend] anymore, she is [ex-girlfriend].

- Do you have a girlfriend?
- Yes, I do.
- Is she a good girlfriend or a bad girlfriend?

I just can not imagine such a question at all.
In my Russian mentality, if the answer for the last question is [My girlfriend is a bad girlfriend] is 100% the same, as to say that [I am totally stupid idiot].

So, to have a girlfriend is already [good girlfirend] meaning included.

To have a [bad girlfirend] is already [i am an idiot] meaning is included.

The whole meaning to have a girlfriend is to find out if this woman can be a [good wife] or not. If it turnes out, that current girlfriend does not fit to be a [good wife], that does not mean, that she is a [bad girlfriend]. It just means, that the test of relations have failed.

To test future possible marriage relations is the whole meaning of girlfriending. But the object for testing is [wifing], not [girlfriending].

How is this idea commonly/idiomatically expressed in Russian?

I do not feel to use any idiom here to express this meaning.

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