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I wonder what people in Russia say about doing some hard tedious work.

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  • 1
    Please, add some additional information about this idiom, since actually it is not only a hard work, but, as far as I understand, a hard work by hand. – shabunc Nov 21 '13 at 7:08
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    Could you please provide some context? – Quassnoi Nov 21 '13 at 7:31
  • I think they say "Придется попотеть". But it cannot be used for pranks and jokes on unaware newbie. – Artemix Nov 21 '13 at 7:45
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Here is a list of words:

  • въёбывать - colloquial and obscene, like Clever Masha told. Colloquial, but not obscene:
  • ишачить
  • вкалывать
  • пахать
  • горбатиться - similar to горбить спину

Not colloquial

  • гнуть спину, горбить спину - this one is poetic and slightly archaic. About one who works hard for somebody else, especially if he remains poor in spite of the hard work.
  • работать (пахать) как лошадь (как вол, как ломовая лошадь, как каторжный)
  • работать не разгибая спины
  • работать на износ - to work so hard that one eventually becomes unable to work anymore (i.e. because of health problems caused by overworking)

All of these are about hard and long work. You cannot say "я повъёбывал полчаса, а потом пошёл в кино".

For fixing something which does not function properly, especially in a computer area, there is a word "трахаться", i. e. "я всё утро трахался с этим долбаным линуксом".

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  • One can just as well три часа трахаться с заклинившей дверью, so it's not specific to computer area. – sharptooth Nov 25 '13 at 10:00
  • Yes, I wrote "especially in a computer area", not explicitly . – user31264 Nov 25 '13 at 17:47
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    There is also a quite rarely used euphemism "вджобывать", derived from the English word "job". – Dmitriy Mar 5 '19 at 0:10
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    ишачить has strong connotation of working for someone else's benefit. – alamar Mar 5 '19 at 9:06
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I am quite surprised not to find the option "корпеть", which came first to my mind. It means a long tedious work which requires attention and often writing, for example:

Он всю ночь корпел над статьей (= писал статью) Хватит корпеть над декорациями, они и так хорошо вышли (= хватит рисовать и расставлять декорации)

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Doing hard tedious work means Въёбывать. It is colloquial obscene word. Every native speaker will say so. It is quite consistent with the notion of hard tedious work, and not always carry negative connotation. You can proudly say въебываю с утра до ночи.

All other words are euphemisms which used only if the environment does not allow to express directly:

  • вкалывать,
  • ишачить,
  • пахать,
  • ломать хрип,
  • ломать горб,
  • горбатиться,
  • ломать хребет,
  • ломать хребтину,
  • ломать спину,
  • работать (пахать) как вол,
  • работать в поте лица,
  • работать как каторжный,
  • работать как ломовая лошадь,
  • работать без разгибу,
  • работать на износ,
  • упираться,
  • хрячиться,
  • умываться потом,
  • гнуть хребет,
  • гнуть спину,
  • мантулить,
  • натирать мозоли,
  • мозолить руки.

The nouns are адский труд or каторжная работа; надрыв, надсада (from надрываться, надсаждаться). Страда is the period of hard work.

Воду возить in the phrase на сердитых воду возят means to be loaded by hard work.

Cleaning out this kitchen will take a lot of elbow grease — пока уберёшь эту кухню, семь потов сойдёт.

Elbow grease gives the best polish — терпение и труд всё перетрут.

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    I never heard "ломать хрип", and google finds it almost exclusively in dictionaries, – user31264 Nov 24 '13 at 0:47
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    Same about "мантулить". Seems like "ломать хрип" and "мантулить" are pseudo-words which are copied from dictionary to dictionary, or maybe local dialects. Most of other words and phrases are used EXTREMELY rarely, and some of them are just barely understandable. – user31264 Nov 24 '13 at 0:53
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As a native speaker, I would mainly use the word пахать in this sense.
Current Russian president used this verb to describe his activity in this role: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpylRAHnpn0
пахать is a good verb to express hard exhausting work.

The other option would be вкалывать.

Въебывать sounds quite obscene to me. I doubt if I used it at all in my speech.

If you are talking about a student, you may use the modern verb ботать. But it is rather colloquial and applicable to to people who study more like doing a burden.

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If talking about a slang, I would suggest the word задолбаться. It is commonly used everywhere, it is not a hard slang, so you can say it to your parents, friends. Example: Вчера переезжали в новый дом, задолбались вытаскивать холодильник с пятого этажа. Or Он задолбался ремонтировать свой автомобиль.

In addition this word can be attached to person, who keep asking you about a help/favors/job to do or advising you some stupid ideas. Like: Она уже задолбала меня звонить и просить денег в долг.

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  • Задолбаться has a negative connotation (like "I'm sick and tired of this work"), while "elbow grease" can be "translated" as - "If you want to get a good result you have to work hard". – Artemix Nov 21 '13 at 9:10
  • Задолбаться doesn't mean "to work" in any sense. It means "to be tired". Я задолбался объяснять, задолбался учится, задолбался смотреть телевизор, задолбался слушать глупости. – Clever Masha Nov 23 '13 at 10:51
  • I don't understand why this answer has been downvoted - I think this verb is one of legitimate answers for the original question (it was about tedious work). Another variant is the obscene word "мудохаться". "Мы мудохались с этим вонючим сервером целый день и наконец нашли, отчего он без конца падает." – HEKTO Dec 6 '13 at 21:32
  • I negated the downvote because I think it's unjust! Seems like an acceptable answer to me. – Matt Fletcher Jan 19 '14 at 11:32
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I think it would be пердячий X, where X is some tool or improvement; most commonly пердячий пар:

  • Работа пыльная, грязная, тяжелая, из механизмов один пердячий пар [В. С. Шаменков. А не слабо ли...? (2006)]

  • Раньше ручная работа была, раньше все пердячим краном поднимали. [К. К. Вагинов. Гарпагониада (1934)]

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  • @Artemix: I don't claim it reflects all meanings of the English expressions. However, it certainly is "hard tedious work" (which seems to be the meaning the op is concerned about). – Quassnoi Nov 21 '13 at 7:58
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    While very comparable, this expression has a slightly obscene quality that elbow grease lacks. – Dimitriy V. Masterov Nov 21 '13 at 21:54
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    На пердячем пару means that there are no any contrivance, not equipped and automatized. – Clever Masha Nov 23 '13 at 10:37
  • The origin is connected with the first attempts to simplify hard physical work using steam-powered mechanisms (locomotives, steamships). – Clever Masha Nov 23 '13 at 10:58
  • The mechanisms weren't used in manufacture. It was necessary to perform all the work using human muscle strength. Because of this the phrase "на пердячем пару" was used unlike "настоящий пар". Also it means that employees "fart from the strain". Пердячий кран is not set expression. It is a word-play which refers to the expression "пердячий пар". Now this phrase is not only pointedly rough but also as an archaic, although the meaning is clear yet. This comes from the fact that the mechanisms of steam disappeared from wide use. And the meaning has become unclear. – Clever Masha Nov 23 '13 at 11:13
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Нудный. Tedious work getting me tired - нудная работа утомляет меня. :)

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