In Tolstoy's Исповедь one reads :

Истина эта была всегда истина, как 2 × 2 = 4, но я не признавал ее, потому что, признав 2 × 2 = 4, я бы должен был признать то, что я нехорош.

2 x 2 = 4 is translated in French as : 2 + 2 = 4. Indeed, whenever we want to give an example of a fact that's evident, we use 2 + 2 = 4 rather than 2 x 2 = 4 (I believe it's the same in English). Does Russian in fact favor 2 x 2 = 4 in this usage instead of 2 + 2 = 4?

  • While I suspect you're right about the usual evident fact in English today being 2+2=4, long ago 2 x 2 = 4 was used at least once: there is a famous quote attributed to Lord Kelvin about the calculation of the Gaussian integral's value (the integral of exp(-x^2) over the real line being sqrt(pi)): "A mathematician is one to whom that is as obvious as that twice two makes four is to you."
    – KCd
    Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 3:40

1 Answer 1


Yes, the Russian for "plain as a day" is дважды два четыре, literally "twice two four", or even just дважды два. It's unequivocally about multiplication.

  • Он же еще не умер. — Помрет, как дважды два. С третьего инфаркта еще никто не жил. [И. Грекова. На испытаниях (1967)]

  • Ясно и верно, как дважды два — четыре, что участь нашего друга держится на одной цепочке с тайною молдаванки. [И. И. Лажечников. Ледяной дом (1835)]

  • Я ей доказал как дважды два, что вы жили на взаимных выгодах: она капиталисткой, а ты при ней сентиментальным шутом. [Ф. М. Достоевский. Бесы (1871-1872)]

My guess is that it just goes more easily with the flow of speech than два плюс два or два да два, but I don't have anything to back that up with.

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