The context in which I encountered it is a sentence in Solzhenytsin's Gulag Archipelago (GA) :

Ведь заранее известно, что эти ночные картузы не с добрыми намерениями идут - так не ошибешься, хрястув по душегубцу.

Google Translate renders "хрястув по душегубцу" as "Grunting on the murderer" while my English translation of GA has "Cracking the skull of the murderer".

Google Translate also gives хрюкать or хрюкнуть as translations for "grunt", but it is unclear to me how хрястув would be derived from those infinitives. Also the connection between "grunting" and "cracking the skull" is not obvious.



2 Answers 2


Хрястнуть (there seems to be a typo) is a dialectal (regional) verb meaning to "hit" somebody or to strike.

Хрястнув по душегубцу (the usual variant "душегуб") means to hit/ strike the murderer.


The verb хрястнуть comes from the onomatopoeia хрясть, which has a similar meaning to "crack" or "snap" and represents the sound of wood snapping or bones cracking. Хрястнуть then means to hit something and cause it to emit a cracking sound. So, cracking the skull is an acceptable translation here.

  • 1
    which has a similar meaning to the russian хруст
    – Elena
    Dec 13, 2021 at 18:00

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