If I'm not mistaken some character in Ilf-Petrov's wonderful novel Двенадцать стульев wants to damn something. I don't quite remember the situation, but he says
– гангрена (проклятая)!
Is any of these words still in modern Russian in use?
Russian Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Russian language. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
"Гангрена" is almost never used. It seems that Ilf (Feinsielberg) & Petrov (Kataev) have chosen quite rare idioms to make their texts really expressive.
Yet mentioned above "холера" is used surprisingly often. Probably due to Polish, though I must also remember quite popular Lavrenev's "Сорок первый" where the heroine extensively used the expression "рыбья холера" ("fish cholera"), which still in use (especially by older generation).
Other examples of non-standard usage: "чума" ("plague"; quite different meanings from cursing upto admiration); "язва" ("ulcer"; usually about waspish person) - though here the word "язва" is used perhaps due to the older meaning "wound" rather than modern "sore/ulcer".
"Проклятье" is clearly out of fashion (if only not to count Ukrainian cliche "клятi москалi" which Russians sometimes ironically use). In everyday speech people rather choose "чёрт" (although literary means "devil" even google-translate correctly shows "damn" as the first translation option), or "твою мать" (".. your mother" - with the verb omitted, so it sounds a little less rude), or really obscene "блядь" ("bitch").