In a Russian forum, one user commented on a situation with Дадим стране угля... and that was enough to make everyone in the room agree or laugh or both. What does that imply?

Update: The whole comment was Дадим стране угля: мелкого, но до х!**, but I didn't think the second part was actually part of the idiom.

  • 1
    Non-euphemistic alternative can be "Let's push (work hard) for the benefit of this (our) country." As the original phrase was coined back in the 30s - pre-war, long ago, different country - it was bound to lose the original meaning and shift into more humorous spectrum.
    – DK.
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 3:00
  • In what context have you seen it? In particular, is it related to the recent Listvyazhnaya mine disaster?
    – Petr
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 11:28
  • @Petr: no, it twasn't
    – CocoPop
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 13:44
  • 1
    @DK. Thank you so much. It's starting to make a little more sense. I'm just trying to apply it to the context I saw it in. Basically, it's a site where people post things and the users translate them and award hearts to the translations they like. One user openly admitted that he doesn't care about the quality of his translations - he just wants hearts, to which another user stated: Здесь полно идиотов, которым даже откровенный бред может понравиться. Даёшь стране угля - мелкого, но до ху*!
    – CocoPop
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 18:28
  • 2
    So given the context, and in keeping with what you so beautifully explained, I guess I could translate this as "There's no shortage of morons here ready to give hearts to even the most inane bullshit: "Just keep 'em coming! Quantity over quality!"
    – CocoPop
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 18:32

3 Answers 3


There's a humorous, off-color second part to this that basically means "a lot."

Дадим стране угля: мелкого, но до х**! (Let's give the country a lot of coal; abundant in quantity, but leaving much to be desired in terms of quality.)

The meaning is as follows: Проявление решимости при начале работы, настрой на то, чтобы решить возникшие проблемы невзирая на возможные трудности.

-Жгучий глагол. Словарь народной фразеологии

It expresses a determination to start working or solve problems despite hardships.

  • That’s it! That was the context. Thank you!
    – CocoPop
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 5:04
  • 1
    My pleasure....
    – V.V.
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 5:43

The word даёшь has two meanings.

First of them is "we demand" or, by extension, "let's make happen", used in slogans: даёшь пятилетку в четыре года "let's make the five years' plan goals be met in four years", даёшь Кузбасс etc. One of the translations of the movie "Apocalypse Now" is titled Даёшь апокалипсис!

Даёшь стране угля is one of these slogans. It means "more coal for your country".

The second one is a part of the set phrase ну ты даёшь which is said to express surprise or astonishment, often combined with disapproval, of someone's actions. This is something you would say when your friend would tell you that they got drunk and spent a night at the police station, or if they spent a night with a hot stranger. It is somewhat similar to the English expression "you're on the roll" or "you're on fire", but with undertone of disapproval.

This phrase is a contraction of даёшь жару, literally "you're giving heat". Давать жару was a part of the navy stokers' slang, meaning "keep fire under the engine burning hot".

Ну ты даёшь стране угля is a deliberate contamination of the two, for the comic effect. It might be further embellished, like даёшь стране угля, мелкого, но до хуя.

So, давать стране угля means "to be on the roll, to be on fire", except the things someone is doing are hilarious in a somewhat bad way.

  • Выручил Старцев. Он выхватил у одного из бандитов нож, размахнулся и метнул вдогонку. Бросок удался на славу. Нож вошел под лопатку аж по самую рукоять. – Даешь стране угля, Харитоныч! – уважительно пробасил Егоров.
  • Ну ты, Анька, даешь стране угля! Надо же такое ляпнуть! "Вонючая душегубка!" И это о моей "ласточке"! Да чтобы ты знала, эта машина старше тебя на добрых двадцать лет.
  • 1
    "Дадим(давать) стране угля" and "Ну ты даёшь" are not really related in the context of the OP question. Sorry, but to that extent your answer is entertaining, but kinda gaslightingly misleading.
    – DK.
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 2:50
  • @Quassnoi Thank you for your comment. Even though it was sort of comprehensible in parts, as a whole, it didn't really tell me anything. I walked out knowing less than when I came in. But thanks!
    – CocoPop
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 13:49
  • @Quassnoi: PS: "you're on A ROLL" and "you're on fire" are actually expressions meant to encourage or praise someone. If your friend is acting up and spends the night in jail, you say "You're something else!" or "Way to go!" with disapproval 😉
    – CocoPop
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 14:12
  • 1
    @CocoPop: sorry about that! Looks like it's one of the rare cases this expression is used in a metaphorical but not sarcastic way. Had you provided more context, I would probably be able to tell that. In the majority of cases, this is used in the same sense it is in the excerpts I provided: surprise with a dose of disapproval
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 16:40

Дать угля (not уголь, which would be more grammatically correct, but угля) came to Russian language in ~1935, when Stahanov managed to produce huge amount of coal from a mine "Irmino Central". That event started the Stahanov movement: huge PR campaign (songs, newspaper articles, speeches by Soviet leaders, movies, etc.), an army of followers in many fields outside coal mining, and millions of jokes including at least one Vysotsky's song containing these words:

Вот раскопаем - он опять

Начнет три нормы выполнять,

Начнет стране угля давать - и нам хана.

Дать угля is one of the phrases originated at that time along with some other "mining" words like "вира, майна", phrases like "выдать на гора" and so on.

  • Markvs, thank you for your comment, but as it turns out, I was referring to a full idiom, which you can see here: folklor.academic.ru/358/…
    – CocoPop
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 13:51

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.