Cursing Abroad: Russian Insults To Round Out Your Studies

If you like your Russian with a bit of spice, keep reading.
January 23, 2020
Cursing Abroad: Russian Insults To Round Out Your Studies

To the average English-speaker’s ears, even well-wishes can sound vaguely harsh in Russian. But when the Russian language does come with a bit of an attitude, it generally doesn’t beat around the bush. Russian insults are direct, uncompromising and, yes, often pretty colorful.

No language-learning journey is complete if you haven’t yet amassed a couple of very rude words and phrases to use when you’re feeling bold. And if nothing else, at least you’ll be able to tell when someone’s calling you a birdbrain in public.

Here are a few of the sauciest Russian insults you should learn.

Засранец (zasranets) —  Imagine if you took the English word for “diarrhea” and turned it into a verb, and then a person who performs that verb. A “shitass,” if you will.

Иди в баню! (Idi v’banyu!) — If you want to tell someone to get lost as dismissively as you’d swat a fly away with your hand, tell them to “go to the bathhouse.”

Why is it a bad thing to encourage someone to go to the bathhouse? It’s so relaxing and nice! The origins of this phrase aren’t entirely clear, but it’s likely that the use of the word banya has very little to do with bathhouses themselves, as it’s a softer way of saying “go to hell” (or go anywhere that isn’t here). Russian banyas were also thought to be the dwelling place of spirits that were occasionally nefarious or evil in their deeds, so this may also be part of the reason why this phrase basically means the same thing as “go to hell.”

Иди на хуй (Idi na hui) — Literally “go to the dick,” but expressed with all the emotion of telling someone to go fuck themselves.

Козёл (kozyol) — Calling a man a “goat” in Russian is basically like saying he’s an asshole or motherfucker. This term comes from old prison slang that referred to a snitch or informant.

Мудак (mudak) — This is a gender-specific term for men that basically means “blowhard” or “moron.” Literally, though? It means “testicle.” But there’s a theory that it has roots that go even further back to a Sanskrit word for “idiot.”

Перхоть подзалупная (perhot’ podzalupnaya) — “Peehole dandruff.” This is one of those things you probably shouldn’t overthink.

Сволочь (svolotsch’) — The cat just dragged in this old curse word from the 14th century, and it just so happens to describe “what the cat dragged in” (but maybe in a stronger sense — not unlike “scumbag”).

Хуй с горы (hui s’gory) — Who’s that asshole and where did he come from? I don’t know, he’s just some “penis from the mountains.”

Чтоб тебе дети в суп срали (Chtob tebe deti v’sup srali) — To deliver a most unpleasant pox upon one’s head, say, “May your children shit in your soup.”

Чтоб у тебя хуй во лбу вырос (Chtob u tebya hui vo lbu vyros) — “May a dick grow on your forehead.”

Я бы вас послал, да вижу вы оттуда! (Ya by vas paslal, da vizhu vy ottuda!) — “I would send you there, but I see you came from there already!” Where is “there,” exactly? A place only an idiot would visit.

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Steph Koyfman
Steph is a writer, lindy hopper, and astrologer. She’s also a language enthusiast who grew up bilingual and had an early love affair with books. She has mostly proved herself as a New Yorker, and she can introduce herself in Swedish thanks to Babbel. She also speaks Russian and Spanish, but she’s a little rusty on those fronts.
Steph is a writer, lindy hopper, and astrologer. She’s also a language enthusiast who grew up bilingual and had an early love affair with books. She has mostly proved herself as a New Yorker, and she can introduce herself in Swedish thanks to Babbel. She also speaks Russian and Spanish, but she’s a little rusty on those fronts.

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