16 Russian Phrases That Will Never Make Sense In English

Russian language is famous for its various proverbs, idioms and really weird sayings. They are usually used in the figurative sense. Although, if to literally translate those sayings and phrases, they will turn out to not make any sense at all. It makes the Russian language even funnier, but at the same time, special to foreigners.

policeman

Just a few of them:

1. There’s no truth in your legs. 

In Russian: В ногах правды нет.

In English: It’s a commonly used phrase to offer someone ‘to sit down’. Probably because conversations among Russians always last for a long time.

 

2. Don’t push the horses!

In Russian: Не гони лошадей!

In English: ‘Don’t be in a rush’

Russians are using ‘horses’ to describe something moving at speed.

 

3. Don’t f*ck the fire!/ Don’t slap the fire! 

In Russian: Не пори горячку!

In English: ‘Don’t be in a rush’ 

In Russian, the word ‘f*ck’ doesn’t not always involves the act of sex. One the of literary meanings is ‘to slap something’, as it has being used here.

 

4. To warm a sheriff

In Russian: Взгреть прокурора

In English: To offer a bribe’ 

 

5 . To call the cows 

In Russian: Вызывать тёлок

In English: ‘To call some women out’ 

‘Cow’ is a very rude way to call a woman. Although, it’s a very popular expression among Russian men to call women cows, when there are no women around. You can easily get a slap in the face if you ever say that to a Russian woman.

 

6. To grab someone’s eggs

In Russian: Взять за яйца!

In English: ‘To make someone feel scared’ 

Russians use ‘eggs’ to describe men’s balls.

 

7. I’m answering for my market!

In Russian: Я отвечаю за свой базар!

In English: ‘I’m answering for what I’ve said!’

Broadly used among criminals and uneducated people. It does sound very weird, but in Russian language market has an alternative meaning of ‘words’.

 

8. I’m not made by my finger!

In Russian: Я не пальцем деланный!

In English:I’m a special person!’

‘Not made by a finger’ verifies the fact that something was not easy to do.

 

9. I’m not a penis from a mountain!/I’m not a horseradish from a mountain!

In Russian: Я тебе не хрен с горы! 

In English: ‘I’m not a stranger!‘ or ‘I’m a special person!

In Russian, the plant called ‘horseradish’ has also an alternative meaning of ‘dick’. An addition, if you say someone is ‘from the mountain’, it will mean he/she comes from nowhere and knows nothing.

 

10. Talk but don’t over talk! 

In Russian: Говори, но незаговаривайся!

In English: It’s a warning for someone to tell that you should mind your words.

Used as a threat.

 

11.  Who are you in life?

In Russian: Ты кто по жизни вообще?

In English: ‘What is your position in life?/What have you achieved in life?’

Also used as a threat.

 

12. I have a lot of grandmothers!

In Russian: Бабки имею!

In English: ‘I’m very rich!’/’I have a lot of money!’

Again, used among criminals and uneducated Russian people. The word ‘grandmother’ has a figurative sense of ‘money’.

 

13. My hands don’t reach to see it! 

In Russian: Руки не доходят посмотреть!

In English: ‘Don’t have time to do this!’

You would wonder, how can ‘hands have eyes’? Or how can ‘eyes’ actually ‘reach anything’? But for Russians, when ‘your hands don’t reach something’ it means you are too lazy to do something or you are too busy to do it.

 

14. To cut something down with an axe on your nose

In Russian: Зарубить на носу

In English: ‘To take a lesson out of something!’

It can be explained as if something will always be in front of your eyes when being placed (cut down with an axe) on your nose. Saying that you’ve ‘cut something down with an axe on your nose’ means you will remember something forever.

 

15. Hold your tail as a weapon!

In Russian: Держи хвост пистолетом!

In English: ‘Never give up!’ (Can’t be explained)

 

16. To make a pigeon

In Russian: Сделать гульку

In English: ‘To Make a bun!’

In Russian language a noun can be either male/female or have no gender at all (‘neuter’). A female pigeon carries the same meaning as a bun wrap.

 

“Russian always sounds very hostile and suspicious!” –  Joseph Samuel Parkinson

Check Russian Comedy Club issue ‘The Translator’ to get confused even more about Russian language.

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Don’t hesitate to learn Russian. It’s not a big deal!

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8 thoughts on “16 Russian Phrases That Will Never Make Sense In English

  1. Having recently ghostwritten an eBook on Russian history, I am spellbound by this nation. These phrases are hilarious! Especially #6. Russian women don’t take any disrespect do they? I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Having recently ghostwritten an eBook on Russian history, I am spellbound by this nation. These phrases are hilarious! Especially #6. Russian women don’t take any disrespect do they? I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.

  3. One of my favourite sayings in English is “You can’t make omelets without breaking the eggs”, something that’s often (mistakenly) attributed to a Russian named Stalin. Otherwise, Kristina, have you yet come across Cockney rhyming slang? It’s not the same thing as idiom, but unless you know this ‘language within a language’, it makes even less sense when you hear it than some of the Russian proverbs you posted, which were all very interesting, by the way.

  4. Several of these seem to make sense to me. I’m a bit surprised “don’t push horses” isn’t already an English idiom, actually, since it seems to fit so well. “Warming the sheriff” similarly seems like it might have been naturally English, or might have been coined by Damon Runyon.

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