When translating a list of ingredients into Russian, I inadvertently discovered that a certain Russian swear word literally means ‘horseradish’. Since then horseradish has been mentally classified under ‘things to avoid talking about since I don’t know if I will accidentally say something offensive’.

My question is: are there any sentence constructions one should avoid using when talking about horseradish as an ingredient? This Russian-English mat and slang dictionary says that it is not a very strong swear word but I’m not able to judge what ‘not very strong’ means and it would be nice to be certain that I’m not saying anything offensive or that would cause people to erupt in laughter by accident. The same question for any other types of food that might be used as swear words (if there are others).

1 Answer 1


Actually «хрен» is not an independent swear word (root, exactly, since we have adj. «хреновый», adv. «хреново», «дохрена», etc). It’s only an euphemism for (well known to you I think) real mat root «хуй». If you want to make your speech a little less rude, you can say e. g. «иди на хрен» instead of «иди на хуй». This is rather simple.

You can’t avoid the word «хрен» when you are talking about horseradish and I believe you do not need to avoid it. Also you do not need to avoid «хреновый» in phrases like «хреновый лист», but you can say «лист хрена». Other words with root «хрен» can not be connected with horseradish.

Among other food-connected swear words I can only recall the interjection «блин».

  • It should be added that typically "хре́новый" (of horseradish) differs from "хрено́вый" (utter bad) with the stress.
    – Netch
    Dec 23, 2013 at 8:08
  • @Netch Can’t agree with you. At first I have never heard «хре́новый» with a stress on first syllable. Several dictionaries* I’ve checked also give «хрено́вый» as only possible reading. At second there is no any reason for such difference. Even if somewhere «хре́новый» is usual pronunciation it should be equal for both senses. So I would be very interested in source of your assertion. Dec 23, 2013 at 8:43
  • * Dictionaries: Толковый словарь Ушакова; Толковый словарь Ожегова; Толковый словарь под ред. Кузнецова; Зарва. «Русское словесное ударение». Dec 23, 2013 at 8:44
  • @Netch This looks like artificial distinction like "сУка" (swear word) and "сукА" (professional term for feminine dog). The latter exists only to say "hey, we are not swearing here".
    – Artemix
    Dec 23, 2013 at 8:44
  • 1
    Wow, two new words for me: хрЕновый and сукА. The latter is really ridiculous.
    – jwalker
    Dec 23, 2013 at 10:55

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