How to speak Russian: the essentials

On my recent car-pooling trip between Belarus and Russia and some time spent in rural parts of both countries, I realised that my Russian vocabulary is in need of immediate upgrade, otherwise I will no longer understand the speech of ordinary countryfolk.

If you embarked on uneasy task of learning Russian, it is perhaps because you love Dostoevskiy, or Tolstoy, or Tarkovskiy’s films, or something else deep and sad and full of Russian nostalgia. There is another category of people, who probably have never heard of Dostoevskiy or Tolstoy, but know how to say ‘Давай-давай’ (Come on, come on) in Russian, I assume because that’s how they talk to their mum.

Unfortunately, when you finally face your fears and face Russia in modern-day life, no one will speak to you like Dostoevskiy, or Tolstoy, or whoever else that you’ve read. An average Russian youth speaks… Well, remember Nathan from ‘Misfits’? Nathan is a motherf*king poet compared to the way average Russian-speaking youth talks these days. Nathan used a lot words and knew what to do with them. In Russian, three main roots can provide you with enough vocabulary to hold an entire conversation, just make sure not to be heard by your grandmother. I would also recommend you to get acquainted with these words if you plan to visit a remote Russian village, polar station, forest conservancy – practically any place where people live in isolation and have unlimited access to vodka and scarce access to Dostoevskiy.

Russian language has a complex relationship with its swear words, but it is undeniable that a lot of national character and feelings would be lost if not for those dirty expressions that are as old as Russian mentality itself.

So here are your essential roots:


They can be twisted and bent in all directions, providing you with all sorts of hidden and not-so-hidden meanings. Most likely, you can replace any given word with a derivative of one of these roots and it will make some sense.


– female reproductive organ

– cunt


– to go; as in ‘Не нравится – пизди отсюда’ (Don’t like it here? Off you go then, motherfucker)

– to beat up; ‘Мусора его отпиздили как надо’ (the cops fucked him up alright)

– to steal; ‘Спиздил чужую идею – запости в жж’ (stole someone’s idea – post it in your livejournal)


– to tell lies, bullshit; ‘Хана пиздеть’ (cut the crap)

пиздАто, пиздАтенько

– super cool, niiiiice


– to fuck


– to drive smb bonkers; ‘Родина заебала, но я ее все равно люблю’ (motherland is driving me bonkers but I love it anyway)


– fuck yeah, awesome

съебАться; отъебАться

– go away; ‘Кто не съебался вовремя – сам виноват’ (it’s your own fault if you didn’t get away in time); ‘Отъебись!’ (fuck off)


– to ask incessantly, interrogate; ‘Менты доебывались-доебывались, но я своих не сдаю’ (the cops kept interrogating me but I would not rat out one of my own)

– to annoy; ‘Доебался ко мне и не отстает’ (he just keeps following me and wouldn’t fuck off)


– to show off; ‘Будешь выёбываться – отпиздим’ (if you keep showing off we’re gonna fuck you up)


– same as ‘хуёвина’, thing


– male reproductive organ

‘Хуй тебе!’ (you ain’t getting shit)

‘Хуй пинать’ (to fuck around, do nothing)

‘Иди на хуй’ (go fuck yourself!)


– bullshit, bollocks; ‘Хуйню нести’ (to talk bullshit)

– useless shit; ‘Хуйней страдать’ (to do nothing, waste your time on stupid shit, same as ‘Хуй пинать’)

– stuff


– some fucking thing that you don’t know what it is (similar to ‘хуйня’ but less abstract)

охуеть; быть в охуе/ахуе

– be fucking amazed; ‘Смотрю новости и охуеваю/хуею’ (I watch the news and can’t fucking believe my eyes)


– to punch; ‘Медведь ему по роже захуярил’ (Bear punched him in the face)

– to put somewhere; ‘А куда государственный бюджет захуярили?’ (Where the fuck did the government budget go?)


– bad, lousy, lame

ебанУтый, Ёбнутый, пизданУтый, охуЕвший

– fucking insane

You should remember that Russian swearing sounds much more offensive than English equivalents in the same context, and should never be used if you want to impress someone who is an avid fan of Dostoevskiy. It is, however, quite useful in conversations about politics and daily life in the country. After all, I also started learning Italian, for instance, in order to read Umberto Eco in original language, but ended up learning a lot of useful stuff off the streets and walls of Bologna. Dostoevskiy, too, can wait.

Достоевский умер, – сказала гражданка, но как-то не очень уверенно. – Протестую, – горячо воскликнул Бегемот. – Достоевский бессмертен!

Again, the nicest thing about dirty Russian is that you can substitute practically any word with a derivative of above mentioned roots and be understood, provided that there is enough context and body language.

For example, imagine a situation where you and your Russian friend are are going wild camping. At some point, after approximately 5 hours of driving in no particular direction, you might say the following phrase: ‘Whoa, my friend, look how far we have driven on this muddy road yet the wheels of your car are still in place!’ In Russian, it can be shortened to this: “Ну ни хуя себе, в какие ебеня мы захуячились, а эти пиздюлины все еще не ёбнулись!”

I might be exaggerating.

No, I’m not.

To practice your dirty Russian vocabulary, Leningrad is perhaps the classiest music I can recommend.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. guildensterh says:

    You forgot the most important derivative: пиздец (epic fail; это не год, а пиздец какой-то —this year is an epic fail)

    1. Damn how did I forget that

  2. Маруся says:

    ХуЯрить also has meaning to work long or hard (“Это ж нам еще хуярить до ночи!” – There is so much work! We stuck with it till night!).

  3. kutukamus says:

    I wish I knew how to pronounce those 🙂

    1. Bearded Lady Robot says:

      Well, there is Google translate…

Leave a Reply