The closest thing I could find out is that this means something like "poor thing", used when you are taking some sort of pity on someone. Is this correct?

Also, what does the word actually translate to, and how did it get to mean that?

5 Answers 5


I daresay бедолага is not 100% synonymous to бедняга. Yes, both are used when one takes pity on someone. However, I think I can put my finger on at least two slight differences in usage. Firstly, бедняга is more likely to be used in a situation where the object has been unlucky in a particular isolated situation, whereas бедолага better describes someone who is frequently or, as it were, systemically unlucky. Secondly, бедолага seems to be more pertinent in an unfortunate situation which, from the speaker's point of view, is either not too serious and certainly not dramatic or may even be resolved with a certain amount of effort. Thus, it bears a shade of ironic attitude to the sufferer. Бедняга, on the other hand, will almost certainly be the only choice in situations of someone losing a close relative or a friend and such like. Бедолага is hardly acceptable in such situations and may be perceived as insensitive if not insulting.

The excerpt from a song by Vladimir Vysotsky offered by Dmitry Ilukhin eloquently illustrates the certain gravitation of бедолага to humorous contexts.


I'm afraid I missed the second part of the question. Бедняга -- the word used to express taking pity on someone -- is likely to have derived from бедняк (literally, a poor man). If I remember correctly, бедняк still occurs in XIX century's literature with the meaning pitiful. Apparently, at some point бедняк spawned out бедняга using a fairly frequent way of jargon word formation employing the suffix -ага/-яга (see трудящийся > трудяга, работящий > работяга, симпатичный > симпатяга, милый > миляга) which took over the meaning pitiful. I am not entirely sure how бедолага came into existence. I seem to vaguely remember coming across the word бедован and can imagine the transformation бедован > бедовага > бедолага but that would be an absolute speculation. I hope this question catches some proper linguist's eye.

  • I'm afraid I missed the second part of the question.
    – Avi Gordon
    Dec 12, 2014 at 10:27

"Бедолага" means unlucky person, the poor guy who often suffers from troubles. So yes, you right, that could be used as "poor thing"

И всё же, брат, трудна у нас дорога!
Эх, бедолага! Ну, спи, Серёга!

Note that "бедолага" commonly used in context of pitying, not mocking


A comment to Avi Gordon't answer that I (unfortunately) can't post as a proper comment (yet).

"бедолага" uses the same -ага/-яга suffix that morphed with the root over time, and the root is "беда" (misfortune/disaster). So, "бедолага" is "an unfortunate man".

The rest has already been described by Avi Gordon. Accept that answer already :)


I'd say that the meaning is very similar to "бедняга", which is "poor fellow", "poor devil". I'd use these words as synonims, but I personally think that "бедолага" makes a little bit more pity.


Опять под дождь попал, бедолага? (to kid or animal or younger friend that had been unlucky to walk under rain) Этот бедолага пережил шторм, но остался без груза и команды. (about ship that survives a storm) Без семьи, без дома, без надежды на светлое будущее. Экий он всё же бедолгага. (sad story of a man that lost his famyly, his house and all hopes.)

Бедолага - тот, кто претерпел от жизни многие беды, тот, кто был сломлен судьбой и пережил множество БЕД.

Бедняга - близок по значению к бедолаге, но воспринимается мягче.

Бедолага вызывает больше жалости.

Бедняк - просто бедный, нищий человек, не обязательно упавший духом.

Бедолагу отличает именно плачевное состояние его духа.

Бедолага склонен к отчаянию или глубокой депрессии.

Тогда как бедняк может быть весел, будучи жизнелюбивым, но не способным или не желающим прикладывать усилия для улучшения своего материального положения.

Бедолага - часто жертва обстоятельств (СИЛА ОБСТОЯТЕЛЬСТВ).

Бедняга - чаще страдает от собственных неудачных НАЧИНАНИЙ (НЕУДАЧНАЯ ИНИЦИАТИВА).

Бедняк - страдает от собственного НЕДЕЯНИЯ (НЕСПОСОБНОСТЬ или НЕЖЕЛАНИЕ ДЕЙСТВОВАТЬ).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.