# "Орел и решка" or "решка и орёл"?

In English, when the two sides of a coin are described it is conventional to speak about heads before tails. For instance, we'd ask "heads or tails?" when flipping a coin and someone has to choose a side, and if just one side of a coin is in the background to a probability problem then it is usually heads (e.g., "a biased coin has the probability of heads as 1/3").

In Russian, heads = орёл and tails = решка. Is it conventional in Russian to give preference to орёл before решка in such situations, presumably for alphabetical reasons?

• Are you sure this question is about the Russian language? Jan 5 '15 at 23:51
• And by the way, it's vice versa, actually heads = орёл and tails = решка, so 'heads or tails' and 'орёл или решка' have the same sequence of words. Jan 6 '15 at 0:07
• @YellowSky Wow... I've had it wrong all my life. EDIT: Or have I? Jan 6 '15 at 0:39
• Did you try to use a dictionary to translate 'heads' and 'tails' into Russian? Those Russian coins with profiles had an eagle ('орёл') on the other side, the eagle was on every Russian coin just like a profile ('heads') was on every British one, but not every Russian coin had a profile, usually text was there ('решка'). That's why the main side of the coin is 'орёл' in Russian and 'heads' in Britain. Jan 6 '15 at 1:01
• The flipping coin game exists for centuries in Russia, before 1700, the word реверс didn't exist in Russian then. Instead of the eagle the first Russian coins had St. George on horseback killing a dragon with a spear (копьё), so first the game was called копьё и решка (the word копейка comes also from that spear), the eagle appeared in Peter I times. The game was played by poor illiterate people for whom the letters on the other side looked like a grate, a sieve (решето), hence the name. Another theory has it that решка < ряшка, diminutive form of ряха 'muzzle' meaning 'profile'. Jan 6 '15 at 1:28