I asked someone in Moscow what a suitable translation is for "urban legend", and he said that байка would work (this person is young and didn't understand a literal translation like городская легенда). But he thinks байка is more often used for events that happened quite recently, say in the last year, and that isn't a constraint on the term urban legend. The Wikipedia page for байка doesn't suggest that there is a very narrow temporal constraint on its usage. Can байка be applied as broadly in time as urban legend?

5 Answers 5


Городская легенда is 100% correct and corresponds to urban legend exactly. Байка can be any sort of story, urban or not, while urban legend is a very specific type of crocodile-in-the-sewers myth.

  • 1
    If городская легенда is 100% correct, is it possibly something like just 10% known? The person I spoke with in Moscow works in the computer industry, so if he never heard the term городская легенда it makes me think the term may not be widely known.
    – KCd
    Jul 10, 2013 at 19:47
  • 1
    @KCd When someone doesn't know some term, he should find its explanaition. It's normal. And you should say what you exactly want to say. When you see that you're misunderstood, you explain.
    – КуЪ
    Jul 11, 2013 at 8:03
  • @KCd At the bottom of this Wikipedia article you can find a link to a scientific paper "Устойчивые мотивы сюжета «геопатогенная зона» в городской легенде".
    – Artemix
    Jul 11, 2013 at 8:42

Байка - is not quite the same as urban legend. Байка is much closer in meaning to word anecdote (in its English meaning, not Russian) and originates from a Ukrainian word meaning басня in Russian (apologue in English).

While words байка, басня and выдумка (made up story) can be used, they are significantly more colloquial in their meaning. I don't think there is a word (or a stable phrase) analogous to urban legend, but if I had to translate it, I would probably use word миф (myth).


Байка is a story, but "Urban legend" can be also a well-known "fact". For instance one of such "facts" is that cactuses protect from computer monitor's radiation. Or if the bullet hits the tank with fuel it will immediatly blow up.

The translation for "Urban legend" is городская легенда. I found only two examples in Russian National Corpus:

Несколько девушек, видимо, слышавших городские легенды о распространителях вируса, колющих посетителей в ночных клубах, пронзительно завизжали. [Герман Садулаев. Таблетка (2008)]

Так, осененная всевозможными литературными байками, городскими легендами и родительскими фантазиями, дочь вошла в мир. [Владимир Арро. Дом прибежища // «Звезда», 2002]

Also, Wikipedia article entitled Городская легенда has a link to an scientific article that uses the "Городская легенда" in its title:

Е. В. Смирнова. Устойчивые мотивы сюжета «геопатогенная зона» в городской легенде (2010).

This is a newspaper article that uses this term:

Городские легенды: чем пугают себя минчане

So, I think that the term is relatively new, but it is used nowadays.


I would say "современные мифы" or "популярные мифы" or "обывательские мифы". "Легенда" is wrong in this context. In Russian легенда means a story, while the majority of "urban legends" are not stories, but some claims and rumors.

  • "Городские мифы" тоже ничего. :)
    – johnfound
    Sep 4, 2013 at 8:38

Urban legend is a term of USA origin and obscure semantics. Городская легенда is obviously a verbatim translation of it. It is very recent and not well-known. Before the term was introduced in Russian language, Russian urban legends had been called миф or легенда or whatever -- without the need for 'urban' connotation. So you can readily go with these two (I'd prefer миф for its supposedly fake nature). If you use городская легенда, you have less chances to be understood correctly or you may sound "westernized".

  • Легенда implies it is a story while миф means it is a claim which is what usually "urban legend" is. Otherwise, correct.
    – Anixx
    Oct 17, 2013 at 5:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.