The Russian translation for "pet" is домашнее животное, in this case meaning a domesticated animal one keeps in one's home. To a native English-speaker that seems like quite a bookish term. Admittedly this question is tinged with a cultural bias, but is there any commonly-used colloquial or slang word that can be used as an alternative?

Update: I'm aware that домашнее животное does not literally mean "pet", it's just the most common translation I've seen for the word "pet". That was the main impetus for my question -- not having seen another way to translate it, and wondering if there was a more colloquial term.

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    The translation will depend on context. What context do you want to use it in? Jun 28, 2021 at 7:07
  • A cow, a horse, and a pig is also домашнее животное, however few keep cows and horses at one's home now. The point is, those animals are domesticated, домашнее животное means domestic animal, not pet.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 28, 2021 at 8:43

5 Answers 5


There is the word питомец (etymologically, "the one being fed"), but it has other meanings, it's less popular than домашнее животное, and, if anything, it's more bookish.

In compound words, it's sometimes replaced with the root зоо-: зоомагазин "pet store", зоотовары "pet supplies" etc.

Russian, as well as many other languages of the world, sometimes lacks single words for concepts that are expressible with a single word in other languages. There is are no unequivocal single-word counterparts in Russian for "sibling", "cutlery" and many other concepts, "pet" being one of them.

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    When I started learning English in the 1st grade back in the early 1980s, my teacher translated ‘pet’ as домашний любимец. Never heard that phrase said by Russians in a conversation, but it looks like a good way for an English speaker to express the idea of pet, there's no other way out, the Russian language really doesn't operate with even the idea of “pet”.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 28, 2021 at 8:54
  • @YellowSky this is a great point, my question of "is there a short word for X" might be improved by "do Russians use a concept of X at all"
    – user15507
    Jun 28, 2021 at 13:17
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    @hellkat_ they most certainly do, it's just that they use two words for it and rely on context to distinguish pets from cattle or farm animals. If your municipal bylaw is called правила содержания домашних животных, you will easily find it's relevant to cats and dogs and not to cows or horses, and no Russian speaker will be surprised about it
    – Quassnoi
    Jun 28, 2021 at 16:30
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    IMHO "питомец" is the leading one-word translation of the word "pet" currently (for better or for worse).
    – Alexander
    Jun 28, 2021 at 19:05
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    2Quassnoi cattle and farm animal - скот, крс, птица. I somewhat disagree on питомцы to be bookish, definitely used on animal lover\keeper channels, it just may be less specific and may include a wider variety of animals compared to regular dogs, cats, hamsters, in a wider variety of settings like a zoo or some special breeding places for all sorts of animals - all that may be the reason of the bookish taste. I would say питомец is a good translation for the word pet.
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 29, 2021 at 2:08

While I agree that there's no good one word equivalent, "зверюшка" or "зверушка" (both are legal diminutives) might work in some contexts. "У Вас дома какая-нибудь зверушка есть?"

  • and sometimes "зверье", if we remember Popov family :P
    – Swift
    Jul 2, 2021 at 8:23

I think that "домашнее животное" ("domestic animal") is not really a good translation for the word "pet". It becomes even clearer that it is a somewhat different concept and a completely different idea when you remember how in English the word is also used as a verb and sometimes even as an adjective.

Also if for example you have a horse or a cow then they both also count as a "домашнeе животное" but even if you have one it is probably not something you pet while relaxing on your armchair.

I think much better russian equivalent would be something like "малыш", "любимчик", "любимец" or "питомец" and you would choose one over another depending on the degree to which you want to express how much you love your pet.

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    В анлийском почти все слова используются как глагол. Или большинство. "Питомец" может и ближе - но все перечисленные слова это не те слова, которые, если вы лишь их назовете ("мой питомец", и тем более "мой малыш") - вызовут ассоциацию прямо лишь и только лишь - с домашним животным. Если сказать "мой малыш" - это о ребенке, подумают 99%. Если без пояснений. То есть лишь метафорическое использование, это не "pet". Jun 29, 2021 at 16:28
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    @Пилум почти все значения слова pet тоже метафорические, кроме основного глагола и существительного (тут, похоже, глагол первичен). Тут сложно сказать. Очень важен контекст. pet как домашний питомец уже значение поновее
    – Swift
    Jul 2, 2021 at 8:34

Pet as a noun got some variety of meaning in English, so it's important which we take out of context.

1a: a pampered and usually spoiled child

1b: a person who is treated with unusual kindness or consideration : DARLING

2 : a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility

3 : a fit of peevishness, sulkiness, or anger —usually used in the phrase in a pet

1a) маменькин\папенькин сынок, маменькина\папенькина дочка. Literally, "mother's\father's son\daughter, got a derogative connotation..

1б) вскормыш, literally "fosterling", very rarely used, can be considered either "bookish" or derogative when used in colloquial speech. Also Питомец. Любимец as direct analog of "darling" meaning.

2.) питомец, зверушка, домашнее животное but the last one also used for utility animals, домашний питомец very descriptive, leaving no chance to misinterpretation.

3.) Translates idiomatically. E.g. Being in a pet might be "Быть на взводе", Doing smth in a pet - "в порыве ярости"

We may also add a argot meaning for "pet" used in BDSM community: it also can be "питомец" and other from 1b, less often "зверушка" is used.

Should we consider verbs and adjectives "pet" as well?

  • the first sentence of the question sets the context as "a domesticated animal kept for pleasure" -- other meanings of the word are off-topic here
    – user15507
    Jul 5, 2021 at 13:44

There's another good word for pet in Russian - Любимец

  • любимец богов!!!
    – shabunc
    Jul 1, 2021 at 20:12
  • @shabunc hmm, "pet of gods" sounds like an interesting expression
    – Swift
    Jul 2, 2021 at 8:26

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