Given the verb/expression to define something/-body through something/-body as in:

Some people define themselves through their job.
He defines himself through his wife.
The size of a circle can be defined through it's diameter.

How to translate these sentences into Russian?

I though of определить .. через, but I'm quite unsure, especially in the first cases.

Несколько людей определяют себя через их работу.
Он определяет себя через его жену.
Размер круга можно определить через его диаметр.

  • Certainly does not work with anything but circle. You realise that for the circle it is the completely different meaning of "define", right?
    – Shady_arc
    May 19, 2014 at 4:53
  • @artemix the second example probably is pointless. I'll try to find a better one.
    – user3538
    May 19, 2014 at 7:23
  • @shady_arc I think I don't. The first sentence makes sense, doesn't it? How to transfer it to Russian appropriately?
    – user3538
    May 19, 2014 at 7:26
  • @artemix the sense is meant to be: there are some people who make their identity dependent of what they work as. wouldn't that be expressed like that?!
    – user3538
    May 19, 2014 at 14:30
  • 1
    Well, then the most basic meaning you want to express is "In X's life Y is the most important thing". You can work from here, because such thing are probably easily expressed in any language, and then you just try different variants to select the best shade of the meaning. For some common things you can just use "ОН живёт чем-то" (Instrumental case): "Он живёт работой", "Он живёт музыкой"... For 'family', probably "Он отдаёт себя семье" and I am still not sure what should you do with his wife here :)
    – Shady_arc
    May 19, 2014 at 18:31

4 Answers 4


1. The size of a circle can be defined through it's diameter.

Your translation of 'circle' example is quite correct. Define here is a mathematical term and it translates by using Russian mathematical terms определить and выразить:

Размер круга можно определить через его диаметр.
Размер круга может быть выражен через его диаметра.

As for other two examples - I beleive there may be different translations depending on what is meant:

2. Some people define themselves through their job.

If 'defines' describes the phrases like 'Me - is my work' or 'Me - is who my wife is', then I think ассоциировать may work here:

Некоторые люди ассоциируют себя со своей работой (или должностью).

For instance, here is a citation from psychological site:

Например, если мы привыкли ассоциировать себя с нашим положением на работе, с нашей должностью или положением в обществе, то любая угроза – мнимая или реальная, - порождает тревогу в нашем сердце. Если мы привыкли ассоциировать себя с семьей, то любая угроза нашему семейному положению, нашей сути, вызывает у нас неуправляемую тревогу.

3. He defines himself through his wife.

However it is not easy to just say "Он ассоциирует себя с женой" - this sounds like "He thinks that he is his wife" (in other words - he is crazy). I think here we need to say what in his wife is important to him. If it is her success (in business or in life) then:

Он ассоциирует себя с успехом жены.

If it is her beauty then maybe самоутверждается is better choice here:

Он самоутверждается с помощью красивой жены.

  • As you cite, ассоциировать looks like a good fit and самоутверждатся might also be helpful.
    – user3538
    Jun 7, 2014 at 5:44

I would translate it as follows:

Некоторых людей определяет их работа.
Он узнается по своей жене.
Размер окружности определяется ее диаметром.

These are not word-to-word translations, but IMO better reflect the meaning.


I would have translated the first ones expression with "самовыражать(ся)" - to self-express:

Some people define themselves through their job.
Некоторые люди самовыражаются через свою работу.

He defines himself through his wife.
Он самовыражается через свою жену.

On the other hand, the last sentence's translation seems fine with me.


it might be said through "(само)утверждать[ся]/(само)выражать[ся] через кого-то/что-то или с помощью кого-то/чего-то".

Некоторые люди "самоутверждаются" через свою работу.
Он "самоутверждается" с помощью своей жены.
Размер круга может "быть выражен" через его диаметр.
(official: может быть выражен = colloquial: может выражаться)

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