The Russian expressions in the title refer to god. Are there equivalent interjections that do not refer to it?

  • 9
    Historically, спасибо (< съпаси боже) refers to God as well.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 21:28
  • What is interesting in that regard is that "Спаси Боже" had a form of "Спаси Христос" in Don Cossaks region with the same meaning of expressing gratitude. In the great novel "Тихий Дон" by Sholokhov Cossaks always use that form.
    – Anvar
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 5:13

3 Answers 3


These are the words that express astonishment or fright both positive and negative form. There are a lot of such words:

Ух ты! 
Ничего себе!
Вот это да!
Надо же!
  • 4
    The OP expressions are mainly used to express negative astonishment. Therefore, from the list here, I would only keep чёрт (возьми)!, ничего себе!, ой-ё-ёй!, ёлки-палки, надо же, ох! Of course, I agree with Masha that there are lots of other expressions with a similar meaning. Russian is very rich in this respect :)
    – texnic
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 9:38
  • @texnic thank you for your comment =) We can say: О господи, какой замечательный дизайн! Or Боже, ты такой хороший друг, спасибо за помощь. It also can be in a positive form =) Commented May 18, 2013 at 11:19
  • Note that чёрт is "devil-alluding expression". Also ё-моё, нифига (себе), обалдеть are slangish.
    – Artemix
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 9:34

The list contains right expressions but by no means it is a complete one. You often would also hear "С ума сойти!", and bizarrely enough, some totally inexplicable exclamations referring to the same emotion of awe or astonishment like, for example, "япона мать!".

Keep in mind that the majority of such expressions are from the realm of profanity and cannot be mentioned here. But believe me - once you are in Russia, you would learn them very quickly.

  • But "С ума сойти" isn't that specifically to express that somebody has lost his/her mind: "ну ты, с ума сошел!". You mean, you can say "С ума сойти" just as an interjection that is equivalent to those in the title?
    – c.p.
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 21:12
  • @c.p. yes, there are lots of interjections with verbs in infinitive, usually they omit можно. С ума сойти (можно) means "this can drive one crazy*.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 21:22
  • ладно, теперь понял. Спасибо!
    – c.p.
    Commented May 19, 2013 at 3:44
  • 5
    Япона мать is not inexplicable. It is phonetic euphemism to (and now I'm taking a risk because I don't know SO policy regarding obscenities) ебана мать. Commented May 19, 2013 at 18:20
  • 1
    @c.p.: е / ё are often confused, as they are in this wiktionary entry. Both ёбаный and ебёный are possible though the latter is less productive nowadays and is only used in old or rhymed idioms (ебёна мать, ебёна Матрёна, ебёна попона etc.)
    – Quassnoi
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 16:59

Maybe, if you don't want to allude the God, you wouldn't want to call the devil either. :) Or, at least, to use swearing words.

Let's discuss what you can use in a decent society.

So, you can call your mother, I mean the exclamations:


Мама дорогая!



Just as here, when Piglet saw his balloon burst, he shouted: "Мама, мамочка!"

Мать моя женщина! is also possible, but only in informal conversations.

Historically, it was (and is) possible to call your father (and the other respected men of your community) as well. :)



If you are most likely to call all people in general to help you, you can exhale:

Люди добрые! (Что делается!)

Also, you can name the situation what it is like, if it is really bad, then it will be:


Ужас какой!


Какой кошмар!

If you are happy, on the contrary, you can say:


Красота какая!

Какое счастье!

If you are astonished, you exclaim:

С ума сойти!

С ума сойти можно!


Обалдеть можно!

Рехнуться (можно)!

Ого!, Ух ты!, Ничего себе!, Надо же!, Вот это да! go here as well

Mind that "с ума сойти" is more stylistically neutral, while обалдеть and рехнуться are colloquial.

But, still, we do use "Боже упаси!", "Господи, помилуй!", "Боже сохрани!", "Бог миловал!", "Слава Богу!". It was funny, when I was interpreting for a judaic organization and heard "Христом Богом тебя молю!" there. :) Because the Russian language and culture are firmly connected with christianity, and even our letters were invented by christians and spread over the orthodox part of the world.

During the Soviet times, when any religion was prohibited, there were certain trials to replace such expressions in literature. E.g., in "Мойдодыр" by Чуковский there is the following place:

Боже, Боже! Что случилось?

Отчего же всё кругом

Завертелось, закружилось

И помчалось кувырком?

In most editions this innocent phrase was replaced by

Что такое, что случилось?

But even at that time, and we can trace it as we watch the films shot in different decades, people still used the God-calling expressions. And they also could use the devil-calling expressions (чёрт побери, да чёрт бы его побрал, где тебя черти носят?, чёрт его знает, чертовщина какая-то, чёрти что, etc.), and get the answer "Не чертыхайся!" or "Не ругайся!", which meant 'don't swear'.

It has always been better to say "Да Бог его знает!" (I don't know), "Иди с Богом!", "Бог знает что" instead of "Да чёрт его знает!", "Иди к чёрту!", "Чёрт знает что". Those phrases are not totally synonimous, but even if you mean the second part, you can mitigate your message using the first part.

Sure, there exists one swearing expression to express all the "мамочки!", "ужас!", "люди добрые!" and "красота-то какая!", but it's not what I would like to share here or to hear from a foreigner. ))))))

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