A friend of mine wrote:

Ты скоро будешь разговаривать по-русски, как настоящий пацан.

I realize this is a compliment, however I looked it up in several dictionaries and got a basic meaning of boy, lad.

What is a meaning of пацан in this context?

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    Фразу стоит воспринимать целиком: «как настоящий паца́н» (≈ a real lad). Пацаны́ — это самоназвание (autonym, the way they names themselves) людей, которых извне часто называют «го́пниками». Если ваш собеседник относит себя к таковым или симпатизирует им, то это комплимент. Иначе же это, вероятно, напротив — подколка (a taunt) — возможно, вы используете что-то из гопнического лексикона (статья по ссылке не вполне серьезная, но как коллекция примеров того, как говорить не надо, сойдет). Aug 3, 2014 at 19:03
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    хахаха Да это он шутил, потому что я написал "было б здорово" и этот "б" сводит его с ума :) Спасибо за ссылку. Этот словарь весьма интересен!
    – CocoPop
    Aug 3, 2014 at 19:31
  • "было б здорово" is not that bad (not slang, just colloquial/poetic in the language in general), but yeah, somehow I use "бы". Can be your personal choice, though. At some point you are going to have your preferred style in another language. :) So it is a compliment, like "Your are cool, man!"
    – Shady_arc
    Aug 3, 2014 at 19:39
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    @DmitryAlexandrov настоящий пацан. это не всегда гопник. В данном контексте это проявление уважения, что то вроде настоящий космонавт, настоящий мужик и т.д.
    – user4164
    Aug 4, 2014 at 8:38
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    @DmitryAlexandrov Пацаны, давайте отвечать на вопросы постами, а не огромными комментами ;)
    – Artemix
    Aug 4, 2014 at 11:23

7 Answers 7


Although there's already a great discussion in the comments :), I'd translate this as «You'll soon speak Russian like a real Russian great guy». Here «настоящий пацан» implies not only being really a man (like, for example, if you hear «настоящий мужик», that implies your manliness), but also your «being among ours». Something like «You speak English like a true American».
So yes, it's a compliment indeed.

  • in other words: soon you'll be talking like the rest of us.
    – CocoPop
    Aug 5, 2014 at 19:28

I would suggest that a good English translation is "Homeboy" (or "Homie"). The term has a similar hint of criminality, but it can also be used as (carefully) as a term of affection.


I'd say "Dude" is a close parallel. Пацан is literally "guy". "Настоящий пацан" is one who is to be admired and/or respected.".


Don't forget that in contemporary Russian пацан also commonly means thug. So, разговаривать как пацан can mean "use prison slang". Obviously, if this was in response to ""было б здорово" this meaning of пацан is quite an ovekill!


Forget about пацан :) In this sentence you have a popular way of using the word "настоящий" as a connotation for making a compliment. As you are already "настоящий пацан" the word "настоящий" should be read/understood as some adjective with positive connotation like "клёвый", "крутой", "классный", "такой же как я(мы)".

The explanation about пацан given here generally sound.


The meaning of пацан varies depending on the context; it can denote a boy of young age (with derivatives such as пацанёнок); a slang term akin to "buddy" for a male of your age (used mainly by peers in a highly informal conversation, male to male, women NEVER address a man like this); third, пацан means "homie, thug, con etc"

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    Yes, it can be a boy: "[Когда был] Пацаном я здесь бегал на речку с удочкой".
    – Artemix
    Aug 14, 2014 at 10:52
  • I'm pretty sure, the word is derived from Yiddish "potz" (פּאָץ - male body-part). Thus the term may refer to any male. ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9F%D0%BE%D1%86
    – Mikhail T.
    Aug 14, 2014 at 18:54

I think the best translation would be "Soon you will be talking russian like a real fellow (real gangsta maybe? :) )" Or, maybe, to highlight slang nature of the word, one could say "real fellah" or something like that.

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