Questions tagged [выражения]

Questions about the meaning, the origin, and the usage of multi-word expressions with more or less idiomatic or metaphorical meaning.

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45
votes
9answers
11k views

Why do Russians almost not use verbs of possession akin to "have"?

I have always been puzzled as to why the Russians almost never use verbs of possession akin to "have" or "own." Instead of such verbs, the Russians use the preposition у, whose ...
40
votes
8answers
4k views

The meaning of "давай" when saying good bye

I was always wondering: When at the end of the phone or other conversation people say "ну давай" meaning "see you later". Where does this come from? In terms of meaning, I always understood it to ...
34
votes
3answers
3k views

What's the meaning of "у нас" in phrases like "он у нас умный"?

The grammatical construction у меня, literally at/near me, is the Russian way to express possession and is also used to express proximity: У меня хорошая подруга. (I have a good friend.) Она сейчас у ...
31
votes
4answers
14k views

If a Russian girl calls herself a thawing pike (тающая щука), what could it mean?

I recently had a video call with a Russian girl, and in the middle of the conversation she called herself тающая щука. That made no sense in the context, so I used a mirror to try to understand what ...
29
votes
8answers
4k views

How can I finally understand the confusing modal verb "мочь"?

The verb мочь is one of the most basic words, actually a central modal verb, but I am so much confused about it. I am often at a loss as to how to interpret it in particular sentences, and I avoid ...
27
votes
4answers
2k views

How can I understand this puzzling dialogue with "ну я имею в виду вообще"?

My Russian teacher recently had us, his students, listen some audio recordings of what he called "authentic everyday communications of Russians." We had to understand the dialogues and ...
24
votes
3answers
1k views

Difference between "мир" and "свет"

What's the difference between мир and свет to mean world? When would one use one over the other, and are there any set expressions where these are not interchangeable?
23
votes
6answers
15k views

The history and meaning of "ни фига себе"

I understand how the expression is used pretty well, but wonder where did it come from? What exactly does фиг mean?
22
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4answers
5k views

Is there a Russian equivalent of "red flag"?

In English, the term red flag is used as a metaphor to mean a sign suggestive of a possible danger or problem: (1) Boyfriend not showing you his home is a huge red flag. (Link) (2) I've just spent ...
16
votes
5answers
5k views

What is the closest equivalent to "Armchair <profession>"?

In English there’s the use of armchair as a modifier with a profession or occupation to ironically indicate that the person in question has mostly theoretical (and not necessarily expert) knowledge on ...
16
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3answers
2k views

"Отведать тунца" - what does this idiom mean?

I frequently play gomokunarabe, a Japanese strategy game, on an international server and sometimes face Russians as opponents, as a variant of this game is apparently popular in Russia and known as &...
16
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5answers
1k views

What is the best equivalent for FWIW in Russian?

I've seen the usage of English phrase for what it's worth many times. However, I still don't know what the most precise translation of this phrase is in Russian.
15
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5answers
3k views

What are Russian equivalents of the English idiom "spread yourself too thin"?

What are Russian equivalents of the English idiom "spread yourself too thin", which is often used in: "Try not to spread yourself too thin." From The Free Dictionary: spread yourself too thin ...
15
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3answers
2k views

In Russian, how do you idiomatically express the idea of the figurative "overnight"?

In conversation, I just said: Нельзя заснуть и наутро уже все знать и уметь. Будь терпеливой. Ты получила права совсем недавно. То, что ты сумела столько продержаться с нами, – уже само по себе ...
14
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7answers
2k views

Russian equivalents of "no love lost"

You say, for instance: A mere month ago, it seemed they couldn't get enough of each other. My, how things have changed after one big falling-out. Now there is no/little love lost between them. ...
14
votes
6answers
1k views

Origin of Да будет свет! - сказал электрик и перерезал провода

What is the origin of the expression Да будет свет! - сказал электрик и перерезал провода.?
14
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2answers
4k views

Put noodles onto somebody's ears?

I've been asked to explain why people say вешать лапшу на уши for uncovering lies and expressing distrust. Where does it come from?
13
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7answers
4k views

Russian equivalents of 能骗就骗 (if you can cheat, then cheat)

On this SE there have been many interesting questions about Russian equivalents of various idiomatic expressions and proverbs of the French language and other languages, and I decided to make my own ...
13
votes
6answers
4k views

"Cобака на сене" - is this expression still in use or is it dated?

As I understand it, it describes a person who doesn't let others enjoy a resource / service while he himself doesn't utilize it either: Собака на сене — ни себе, ни людям. Смысл поговорки ...
13
votes
2answers
501 views

Etymology of "Есть!" (military command)

Can it be explained how the phrase Есть! came to be used in the military when someone accepts an order?
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Origin of "cемь пятниц на неделе"

What is the origin/etymology of phrase Семь пятниц на неделе (literally, seven Fridays in a week)? I am not interested in the meaning of it (I know what it means), but rather where it came from. I ...
12
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6answers
3k views

In Russian, how do you say "Old habits die hard"?

Старые привычки дают о себе знать, да? I wonder if this is a commonly used expression to convey the idea of "Old habits die hard"? If an automatic translator is anything to go by, however, it doesn't ...
12
votes
7answers
1k views

How should I translate "the fighting boar" in Grenfell's poem into Russian?

My Russian teacher, whom you know by his tough approach to teaching the language, strongly pushed me to try to translate English poems into Russian, and we agreed I'd have a look at Hymn to the Wild ...
12
votes
1answer
525 views

What is the translation for "жить захочешь, не так раскорячишься"? [closed]

Since we seem to accept questions of the Russian-to-English format, I'd like to ask you helping me with the translation of "жить захочешь, не так раскорячишься". Which is a famous quote from a movie. ...
11
votes
8answers
4k views

Good for you! in Russian

Somebody say: I took the full test score And I answer: Good for you! which one is correct in Russian: "хорошо для тебя" or "повезло тебе" And also we use "тебе на пользу" in another situation like: ...
11
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3answers
1k views

What does the phrase пойти в разведку mean?

I assume that in casual usage, it doesn't really mean to serve in an intelligence agency, or to reconnoiter an enemy position, right?
11
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6answers
2k views

What does it mean - "подняться на крыло"

Here is a quote from today news: "На прошлой неделе выпал первый снег, и серые журавли, обитающие на Белом озере, сразу поднялись на крыло и улетели", - рассказал представитель регионального ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Idiomatic Signage: "No children", "Children not allowed on table", etc.?

Let's say you had a nice pool table. And some people were ruining it by putting their small children on top of it and letting them walk around and bang on it. In American English, you might put a ...
11
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4answers
2k views

Why does the phraseme "души не чаять" have positive meaning?

OK, this question has been asked many-many times on the internet, and yet I can't google any reliable and constructive answer with a bit of documented proof. How come the meaning of this phrase - "...
10
votes
3answers
991 views

What are some expressions that starts with "курица - не птица"?

I've heard of: Курица - не птица, баба - не человек! Курица - не птица, Украина (Монголия, и т.д.) - не заграница! any other interesting ones?
10
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6answers
2k views

An idiom similar to 'сам чёрт ногу сломит'

Consider the following idiom: Тут сам чёрт ногу сломит. As I perceive it, it describes something very complex that one can hardly get through. It can be either something physical like a maze or ...
10
votes
7answers
3k views

How is the idea of "girlfriend material" naturally expressed in Russian?

Elle n'est pas de l'étoffe dont on fait les copines... {literally}: She's not of the material from which we make girlfriends. То express the idea of "she's not (X)girlfriend material", "she's not ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the origin of "на обиженных воду возят"?

I've been always wondering what are the origins of this expression? I searched through the net and found few discussions on this issue: Link 1: http://lingvoforum.net/index.php?topic=4111.0 Link 2: ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Etymology of "С дуба рухнуть"

The expression С дуба рухнуть means: crack up, go nuts. For example: Ты что, с дуба рухнул? Have you lost it? What is the etymology of this expression?
9
votes
6answers
463 views

What does "От горшка два вершка" mean?

I have watched a children's cartoon called "Умная дочка" made by "Гора Самоцветов". At one point a phrase "от горшка два вершка" is used. What does it mean? Is вершок a special Russian metric unit, or ...
9
votes
10answers
2k views

Are there Russian words for "close-minded" and "open-minded"?

I'm translating an English text into Russian and got stuck trying to find a Russian word for "close-minded." None came to my mind, so I looked in Reverso and I saw the following translation ...
9
votes
7answers
657 views

What do people in Russia say about doing some hard tedious work?

I wonder what people in Russia say about doing some hard tedious work.
9
votes
5answers
398 views

О конях и лошадях

I know the difference between "лошадь" and "конь" - лошадь is a female horse and конь is a male horse. I also know that we should treat "конный спорт" as a set expression. Thus, "лошадиный спорт" ...
9
votes
8answers
747 views

What does the idiom "что уж там" mean?

I am very much puzzled by the idiom "что уж там" and its sister "чего уж там". Let me show you a few sentences: (1) Давайте везде курить, что уж там, детям в лицо: депутат Госдумы ...
9
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6answers
1k views

A category of jokes based exclusively on puns and wordplay?

In English, there are "classic" knock-knock jokes (1) based on puns, and two-line question-answer jokes (2) with witty punchlines: 1. xxx: Knock knock! yyy: Who's there? xxx: Lego! ...
9
votes
5answers
357 views

How to express the contrasting "still others", as in "some people do X, others do Y, still others do Z"?

In English, you say "some ..., while others ...", when comparing just two groups of people. And when the third group is thrown into the mix, you add "still" or "yet" to "others": Some people do X, ...
9
votes
1answer
610 views

What's the origin of saying: "Ну ты молоток!"?

Basically the title. I have just had a discussion with some of my friends and we could not come up with the origin of this saying. The best we could come up with was that it sounded closer to "...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

The origin of "за двумя зайцами погонишься"

За двумя зайцами погонишься, ни одного не поймаешь. We have the same proverb, 二兎を追う者は一兎も得ず, which is considered borrowed from somewhere, so I am curious whether we borrowed it from the Russians or ...
8
votes
3answers
950 views

What is the precise meaning of "подсел на мак"?

Some months ago I saw a Russian gomokunarabe player saying in an online chat to his compatriot, А я подсел на мак. I cannot recall the context. I can only recall that their chat looked highly ...
8
votes
5answers
799 views

Russian equivalent of expression "you know"

Sometimes I feel the need to fill a gap, while conversing, with something that in English would be filled with "you know" in the sense described by thefreedictionary.com: Used parenthetically in ...
8
votes
2answers
7k views

In "по-русски" - what does "по" mean?

In Russian you say "я говорю по-русски" (ya govoryu po-russki) to say "I speak Russian". What does the "по" mean there?
8
votes
4answers
874 views

Why are cows (коровы) called "крупный рогатый скот" so frequently?

Why cows/bulls rarely called so, especially in official documents, but the term КРС (Крупный рогатый скот, lit. "large horned cattle") is used instead? Other farming animals are called simpler. ...
8
votes
6answers
3k views

What are the original Russian words for a prostitute?

Prostitution is referred to as the oldest profession, but the modern Russian word for a prostitute, "проститутка," is a relatively new borrowing, which started being used in the Russian language just ...
8
votes
3answers
389 views

How to praise a toddler's effort in Russian (instead of intelligence?)

At the moment it is fashionable to not praise children on issues they don't control (inherent intelligence) and instead praise them on what they can control-- effort, hard work. Ref. English doesn't ...

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