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I'd like to be able to say a phrase like "no small feat", if Russians ever talk that way. In other words, I want to express that something has a level of difficulty which might be underestimated or underappreciated, but shouldn't be. What are some natural ways to say this?

I would also be interested in knowing the opposite: when something isn't as impressive as it seems.

Спасибо!

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    Не хухры-мухры, не баран чихнул
    – Petr
    Jul 11, 2022 at 19:09
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    @petr: could you please make it into an answer so we could upvote it? Thanks!
    – Quassnoi
    Jul 11, 2022 at 22:19
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    @Quassnoi, posted (was from phone yesterday)
    – Petr
    Jul 12, 2022 at 6:42
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    Не простое дело. Не ерунда.
    – Anixx
    Jul 12, 2022 at 7:32

3 Answers 3

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"no small feat" can be translated as:

  • не хухры-мухры
  • не баран чихнул
  • не абы что

All these expressions are rather informal, and most commonly used in speech, not in writing. However, they are a perfectly idiomatic way of expressing this. All are a bit more generic than "no small feat" — they can refer to almost anything that should not be underestimated, not only "feats".

A bit more formal may be

  • это многого стоит

Examples:

  • Подняться на Эверест -- это тебе не баран чихнул.
  • Башни Петронас -- это не хухры-мухры, одни из самых высоких зданий мира.

The opposite may be (also informal):

  • это ни о чем
  • не впечатляет / не впечатлило
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Calvin,
It all depends on whether you're learning written, literary Russian or the actual everyday language spoken by the people. In the latter case, you should choose the adequate translation, which in everyday speech is:

не хуй собачий

You wouldn't use this wording in a talk at a symposium or even in a newspaper article, but it is the one used in everyday speech (not in the company of refined ladies, perhaps).

PS.
This saying evidently originated from the popular Latin phrase “Lingua latina non penis canina”.

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    Actually, I think the Latin phrase is a back translation from the Russian phrase since it only seems to appear on Russian sites. languagehat.com/english-phrases-used-only-by-indians I think it's only "popular" in Russia :)
    – CocoPop
    Aug 10, 2022 at 16:46
  • Do you think не хухры-мухры is a euphemism for не хуй собачий?
    – CocoPop
    Aug 10, 2022 at 16:47
  • @CocoPop You may be right about the (pseudo) Latinism. As to the possible euphemism, I am not sure. Aug 11, 2022 at 1:46
  • @CocoPop A propos, please beware that the definition given here dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/proverbs/48004/%D0%A5%D1%83%D0%B9 is plainly wrong. Sexagenarian, I came from a bad neighbourhood, but I never heard "хуй собачий" used without "не". Aug 11, 2022 at 1:52
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    Good to know!!!
    – CocoPop
    Aug 11, 2022 at 12:39
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Petr's answer is correct, but I could supplement it with the following phrases that also work:

  • не фунт изюма
  • с наскоку не возьмешь

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