Could anybody give a precise info on when to use "cвященный" and when "святой".

Is it similar to sainted/sacred and holy? I mean, is it just a different root, these words come from? Or is it actually the same root?

3 Answers 3


святой = very good, innocent, without sin, without any dirtyness, pure in spuritual sense

священный = very important, venerated, sacred

Definitely священный implyes certain rites or ritual importance of the object.

One can apply священный to such things as sword, war, crown, staff, sceptre, monument, book, word, oath, flag, symbol, event etc, while святой is applied to things and people of especial purity: man, woman, martyr, virginity, good character, water, blessing, baptism, sacrament, deed, life, nature etc.

For instance, holy war = священная война. War cannot be святая unless it is a war without sin with only good words :-). A holy sword is священный меч. A святой меч possibly heals instead of killing. Note though that holy inquisition is translated святая инквизиция, that is "sinless/pure inquisition". You can use священный as a synonym for "very important": эта инструкция для меня священна "this manual is very important for me, I will not deviate from it under any circumstances".

  • I think this makes it a bit more clear even though some things are doubtful to me. For example the translators of Synodal Translation use святый for the colossian brothers, to which Paul writes his letter Павел, волею Божиею Апостол Иисуса Христа, и Тимофей брат, находящимся в Колоссах святым и верным братиям во Христе Иисусе - So without sin would not fit IMHO. Pure in a spiritual sense, however, does.
    – user343221
    Apr 26, 2015 at 15:58

Both "Cвященный" (adjective) and "святой" (adjective) mean "holy". For example: "святая вода" = holy water and "святой дух" = holy spirit, "священный огонь" = holy fire (or sacred fire).

While "святой" (noun) is "saint".

Both words (as far as I understand) come from the same root.


They actually come from same root and very similar to holy and sainted. The only difference is that "священный" applicable to inanimate things while "святой" can be used for both animate and inanimate objects.

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