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We were having a conversation in French, and I was wondering how I'd express the same idea in Russian:

En arrivant à l'aéroport, on est passés par je ne sais combien de contrôles de sécurité tous plus rigoureux les uns que les autres.

  • {Literally}: After arriving at the airport, we went through I-do-not-know-how-many security checks, each more strict than the next.

This colloquial hyperbolic expression comes in the form of "je ne sais combien/quel/etc {interrogative pronoun}"; and in the case of "je ne sais combien (de)", it is used to refer to the extraordinary, staggering amount/number of something -- so much so that literally "I don't know how much / how many X" there are in total.

How is this idea commonly/idiomatically expressed in Russian? I wonder how, for instance, "бог весть сколько/какой/etc" compares?

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    "Бог весть сколько/какой/etc" compares perfectly. Also, in that expression, "бог весть" can be substitured for "чёрт знает" to add more indignation or irritation into it. Also mind that not all the people would like the words "бог" or "чёрт" used outside of religious discourse. – Yellow Sky Jun 28 '19 at 21:15
  • @YellowSky I see. The "je ne sais combien/quel/etc" is, as you can see, as neutral as they come without any religious flavour. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jun 28 '19 at 21:29
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    @YellowSky, honestly, why not to make this an answer? (cause it's basically an answer). – shabunc Jun 28 '19 at 22:25
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    also бог знает сколько which is a colloquial version, and of course бог/чёрт can be replaced with another expletive хер/хуй which makes the phrase profane – Баян Купи-ка Jun 30 '19 at 18:59
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Usually, Russians say "бессчётное количество" (countless amount) or "невесть сколько" (don't know how many).

@YellowSky's and @БаянКупи-ка's comments are also good, but there are cases when you don't want to mention God or Devil in conversation, and the last option with those bad words is nothing less than obscene, it's just inappropriate. If you would say it in an airport out loud, probably all the other people will stare at you like you're insane.

So, "По прибытии в аэропорт мы прошли (бессчётное количество)/(невесть сколько) проверок, каждая из которых была строже предыдущей" is a beautifully constructed sentence in Russian. Good luck!

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There is also a relatively new abbreviation "ХЗ", which means "хуй знает", but it looks much less profane in this abbreviated form, and it is widely used nowadays. I think, a typical passenger in the informal dialog will say here something like:

Мы прошли ХЗ сколько проверок, каждая жестче предыдущей.

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