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I am very much puzzled by the frequently used Russian verb выпендриваться and cannot understand it. Dictionaries and Reverso Context give a variety of translations, but I feel that none of them hits the bull's eye. Perhaps the most common English translation is "to show off." This English phrasal verb is defined in the Oxford dictionary as "to boastfully display abilities or accomplishments" and does not seem to fit, for example, the following sentence:

Червиченко: «Спартак» опять выпендрился и взял иностранца. (Source)

The sentence, in the context of the article the sentence is taken from, says that FC Spartak hired a foreign coach and thereby again did what is called выпендриваться. The translation variant "show off" seems highly inaccurate here because hiring a foreign coach has nothing to do with boastfully displaying abilities or accomplishments. Any football club can hire a foreign coach.

Adding to my confusion, Ozhegov's explanatory dictionary and Wiktionary give conflicting definitions of выпендриваться:

  • Definition by Ozhegov: важничая, выставлять себя напоказ; проявлять гонор.

  • Definition by Wiktionary: сделать что-либо необычным, экстравагантным образом с целью выставить себя напоказ.

As you see, Wiktionary defines выпендриваться as to do something in an unusual way for the purpose of putting oneself on display, whilst Ozhegov defines it as to put oneself on display by showing one's own importance and arrogance. I believe there is a principal difference between arrogance and merely doing something in an unusual way, so it seems impossible to reconcile the above definitions unless doing something in an unusual way is by itself considered arrogant in the Russian culture. I wonder whether it really is.

In an attempt to understand выпендриваться, I tried to investigate its etymology and got even more puzzled. Mysteriously, neither Vasmer's etymological dictionary nor Preobrazhensky's etymological dictionary contain this word. On a different SE there is a question about the etymology of this word, and the only answer given cites a questionable hypothesis by Trubachev, who suggests a connection to the Old Slavic word "vy-pętriti." Elistratov's dictionary makes an apparently different suggestion:

Ср. устар. диал. «пендёра», «пендеря», «пендюра», «пендерь» — лентяй, «пендюрить» — много есть, «пентерить» — вталкивать, впихивать, «пентеря» — тот, кто лезет не в свое дело, «пентюшиться» — ломаться, кобениться, зазнаваться.

So my question is: What are the exact meaning of "выпендриваться" and existing evidence about the origin of this word?

  • talk about skills that you don't have – Houp S Nov 7 at 22:39
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hiring a foreign coach has nothing to do with boastfully displaying abilities or accomplishments

In fact it has. At least in the Russian culture hiring a foreign coach / teacher / consultant means you have a lot of money, your financial abilities are high, you have achieved / accomplished a new level of financial freedom.

Think about 200 years ago when only rich Russian nobles could afford ordering a teacher from abroad (гувернёр).

unless doing something in an unusual way is by itself considered arrogant in the Russian culture

I believe it's the other way around: when you are rich, you are arrogant and you can show off in different extravagant ways. This is a common belief which is quite popular in different cultures.

The etimology is very well covered on Wictionary.

Seems like выпендриваться is connected to some ancient words like выпетриваться, петро which means выветрить, высушить by stretching something out, laying out.

Btw, if you are interested in this word you might find interesting these as well:

выпендрёж, выпендрёжник, выпендрёжница, выпендрёжный

and some interesting synonyms:

выёживаться, выкобеливаться

And a swear word:

выёбываться

Never use it, I mention it here to show the pattern.

As you can guess these synonyms cannot be used freely. But they generally mean the same: show off in an usual way to display power, arrogance, stubbornness.

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    I cannot be more right than a dictionary. But from your initial comments I understand that you are confused about how arrogance and freaky behavior can live together. The point is that the word is used to express negative attitude towards someone. Usually we don't say: "я выпендриваюсь". It's only when we want to criticize ourselves. So it's criticizing someone for arrogance as a result of a show offish act. Check out the English bravado: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bravado which I think is close to выпендрёж. – Vitaly Sazanovich Oct 29 at 17:36
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    By using this word native speakers express their strong personal attitude. Criticizing. They display their character: what exactly do they call showing off. What are the standards? Yes, you can expect: "Выпендрилась! Волосы покрасила." or even: "Выпендрёжница! Она бы ещё ногти нарастила." - anything can become an act of выпендрёж in the eyes of envy, hatred. – Vitaly Sazanovich Oct 29 at 17:47
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    Oh, I see, I am getting it: eсли наш - то смело поставил себя, а если их - то нагло выпендрился. Right? – Mitsuko Oct 29 at 17:52
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    Indeed, the act of выпендрёж can be interpreted by different people differently. Like разведчик and шпион (spy and agent) - it all depends on which side you are. – Vitaly Sazanovich Oct 29 at 17:58
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    выкобениваться more common than выкобеливаться, I have not even heard these words before – Eugene Oct 29 at 22:25
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I will try to address this question not from the linguistic point of view but from the native speaker's one.

In a rough translation, выпендриваться indeed means "to show off" in the meaning of deliberately acting in an ostentatious/conspicous/flashy way (which deviates from statistical average accepted in a society) to attract attention.

The sentence, in the context of the article the sentence is taken from, says that FC Spartak hired a foreign coach and thereby again did what is called выпендриваться.

As a heritage from the Soviet Union, Russian people (and hence, the language) got a particular mentality of considering goods and services from the foreign countries to be of higher quality. Because of the iron curtain, they were rare and covered with an attractive mist. Given the tacit taboo on standing out of society and an active propaganda towards patriotism in consumption, it is obvious that hiring a foreign coach could be considered as выпендрёж whereas there are available Russian ones.

I also agree with the explanation presented by the previous commentator Vitaly Sazanovich on this matter.

As you see, Wiktionary defines выпендриваться as to do something in an unusual way for the purpose of putting oneself on display, whilst Ozhegov defines it as to put oneself on display by showing one's own importance and arrogance.

In my understanding, these two definitions are somewhat equivalent. Each of them just highlights different aspect of this word. Выпендриваться basically means to do something in an unusual way for the purpose of putting oneself on display. Besides, the person who is behaving in such was is considered to be arrogant by trying to stand off from the acceptable average.

As for the origins of the word, the ethymology from Wikitionary seems to be a plausible one.

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    I would argue that admiration of everything foreign has a longer history in Russia, though, undoubtedly, the Soviet times reinforced it quite a bit. – Zeus Oct 30 at 4:15
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Выпендриваться really means to "show off". But it like more: "to do simple task in hard way on purpose to show how good I am".

About etimology - it really doesn't metter. Russian is syntetic language and in many cases root of the word "holds" little to no sense. This is exactly this case. the meaning of the word is concentrated in combination of prefix "вы-" and suffix+ending "-ваться". You can replace root for any other of you choise and it will mean the same (with some exceptions). The most common variants (excluding rude word with root "-ёб-") are "выёживаться" and "выделываться".

  • Выкрючиваться. Выкаблучиваться – Elena Oct 31 at 16:53
  • +1 for general form "вы"+'do smth'+"ваться" = выделываться. "Он довыделывался". – Eugene Nov 1 at 0:44
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Выпендриваться means to boast something, to show yourself the best you can, but to do it in order to boast your qualities or things you possess.

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выпендриваться ВЫПЕНДРЁЖНИЧАТЬ, -аю, -аешь; ВЫПЕНДРИВАТЬСЯ, -аюсь, -аешься; несов. (сов. ВЫПЕНДРИТЬСЯ, -рюсь, -ришься), перед кем и без доп. Вести себя нагло, вызывающе, высокомерно; пускать пыль в глаза; франтить.(to show off, be arrogant) The source is Словарь русского арго. Etymology has already been given by other people.

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