What does "терпячка" mean? I know it has to do with suffering and bearing, but I need the exact meaning.

  • Could you also elaborate more about your question. What is your exact problem? How did you come about that word? Any specific usage example got you confused?
    – theUg
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 6:39
  • As a very well-educated native speaker who has read a lot, I have never come across this word. This sounds as either Ukrainian or XIX-th century Russian.
    – osa
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 22:27
  • I've heard the work нетерпячка many times (south of Russia). It refers to the case when somebody doesn't have enough patience
    – demonplus
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 14:53

3 Answers 3


This word was created from the word терпеть, which in English would more or less mean to tolerate or put up with or hold on.

In Ukrainian, which has the same roots as Russian, the word терпячка means patience or tolerance, depending on the context, albeit colloquially. In Russian, the meaning is somewhat different.

In Russian, the word терпячка refers to a scenario where a person is holding on and pretends that everything is fine despite it really not being fine. This is usually done to save face or look cool, or to show off, ... you get the idea. And this person believes that this is the right thing to do.

For example, you may be holding on and pretending you're perfectly fine despite being in severe pain after being hit by a bus. I don't know why anyone would do that, but if one did, this would be referred to as терпячка.

And it doesn't necessarily refer to physical pain; it can also refer to an emotional state. For example, while at work, someone can pretend that everything is fine at home despite the fact that a close relative has died.

Or, for example, if two kids went on their own to the forest and one of them admits to being scared, the other one would almost certainly pretend that they're not scared just to show off, although, most likely, they're just as scared.

These are just a few examples, but they should be enough to convey the meaning of the word. If you can read Russian reasonably well, I recommend you read these posts:

  1. http://knjazna.livejournal.com/380576.html
  2. http://knjazna.livejournal.com/380849.html
  3. http://knjazna.livejournal.com/381159.html

I don't know all the intricacies of the usage of this word, and the changes it's undergone over time, but to provide some background and to clear up some misconceptions, here's some additional information and examples of usage (of which I wasn't able to find many).

The word in question isn't new and was included in Dahl’s explanatory dictionary in its first edition (1866, p. 367):

Терпя́чка ж. терпѣнье. У него терпячки нѣтъ, или у него нетерпячка. Терпя́чій человѣкъ, терпѣливый и сносливый.

That definition simply equates the word with терпение, which translates to “patience” or “endurance”, without any notes on special usage. Notably, the dictionary of the Ukrainian language by B. Hrinchenko (1907‒1909) gives exactly the same definition.


Когда Данилов уехал, он пришел крайне подавленный и сказал: «Если у каторжного терпячка лопнула, то мне что же остается — пулю в лоб?»

Here, it seems to be used the same way someone would use the common phrase терпение лопнуло (one’s patience was lost). However, it somewhat leans towards a sense of “endurance.” That is, if Danilov, a former labor camp convict, couldn't bear or endure a particular event, how could others?

  • Contemporary Kazakh writer and Ural region and Cossack historian A. Yalfimov used the word in a novel that is still being written, but with a few chapters published in some regional literary magazines:

И вот, когда терпячка совсем кончилась, сна не было и кусок не лез в горло, вздрогнули казаки на ранней заре от могучего, протяжного гула.


This word is a new coinage, a cross-breed of терпение ('patience') and болячка ('sore place'), meaning 'to hide one's [chronic] pain'.

  • How do you define “new” if 1866 edition of Dahl’s dictionary has that word?
    – theUg
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 16:08
  • @theUg By the usage gap. E.g. Hebrew having a thousands of years of history is still a new language, not an ancient one.
    – Manjusri
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 10:08
  • Thus, any Russian word would be a new coinage, since Russian is much younger, is that right?
    – theUg
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 7:19
  • Let's define what is 'modern Russian' first.
    – Manjusri
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 14:39

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