I have some Russian acquaintances who use мат. They sort of explained me that information, that I can find in the dictionaries; Namely, that it's obscene language. I wonder if мат rather means playing with double sense words using tons of ingenious paranomasia. Like adding hidden meanings to non-vulgar terms (similar but strictly different from the French contrepetrie).

Could somebody explain if мат conveys a deep meaning I couldn't find in a dictionary?

  • 5
    Guess, the closest analogs to Russian мат in English are so-called F-words.
    – Ivan
    May 10, 2015 at 13:11
  • Except that f-words are rather common in Hollywood movies, while мат, матерные слова, матерщина are very rare in Russian cinema, some 25 years ago they were absent completely
    – d.k
    May 10, 2015 at 13:41
  • 1
    @user907860: from Wikipedia: The films Ulysses and I'll Never Forget What's'isname (both 1967) are contenders for being the first film to use the word "fuck".
    – Quassnoi
    May 11, 2015 at 17:35
  • 2
    Russians say that "Russian language without мат becomes as insipid as a lecture" ;)
    – user5481
    May 18, 2015 at 9:49

2 Answers 2


The term мат originates with the verb материться, originally "to insult smb.'s mother", but the meaning has been generalised and somewhat shifted to denote using any of the taboo-grade, sexual obscenities (for the purposes of clarity, these are: хуй, пизда, ебать, and the relatively recently "promoted", formerly not-that-obscene блядь, whereas муде is considered "just barely not мат") or any of their morphological derivatives. There's no deeper meaning; it points specifically to the use of those words, or rather those roots.

In older texts, you may come across the idiom орать благим матом; this translates to something like "to scream blue murder" and not, as one might be tempted to assume, the quaintly oxymoronic "to yell virtuous obscenities". The origin of its idiom and its relation, if any, to мат in the above-mentioned sense are obscure; for practical purposes, it's best to think of them as unrelated.


No, there's no deeper meaning behind it. мат only means using certain rude words that typically refer to private parts, sexual activity, etc. Some people never use мат, others sometimes use it unintentionally (like if they trip and fall); generally, whether someone users it or not depends on their personal culture of speech, education, etc.

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