Russian Expressions That Confuse Foreigners

Every language has its own peculiar expressions. Let’s take a look at the Russian ones and try to properly translate and understand them.

Мне глубоко фиолетово
Literally: “For me, it’s deeply violet.”
Actually: an expression used to show that you do not care. No one really knows why violet of all colors. The English equivalent may be “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Держи хвост пистолетом
Literally: “Hold your tale as a gun.”
Actually: an encouragement to not be sad or afraid of doing something.

Руки в ноги и вперёд
Literally: “Put your legs in your arms and go forward.”
Actually: “hurry up and go.”

Отбросить коньки
Literally: “Throw the skates off.”
Actually: an expression used to refer to the death of someone you did not really care about.

Зарубить на носу
Literally: “Mark your nose.”
Actually: learn something for life, and never forget it.

Старый новый год
Literally: “The Old New Year.”
Actually: this expression refers to an informal traditional holiday celebrated to begin the new year of the Gregorian calendar. The Old New Year is not as festive as the New New Year celebration, as for many people it is a nostalgic family holiday ending the New Year holiday cycle with traditional meals, singing, and celebrating.

Битый час
Literally: “The beaten hour.”
Actually: a more emotional version of “the solid hour.” Russians use this expression to convey anger, irritation, and boredom.

Когда рак на горе свиснет
Literally: “When the lobster whistles on the hill.”
Actually: a very convoluted way to say “never.”

Xватит лапшу на уши вешать
Literally: “Stop hanging spaghetti on my ears”
Actually: this last one is for you, pasta lovers, although it has nothing to do with your favorite meal. What it really means is that someone is trying to persuade you of a lie, but you are not buying it.

If you would like to share your culture or learn something new about traditions of foreign countries, think about studying in John Cabot University!

Прочитайте этот блог на русском языке!


Anastasiia Komarova
Communications Major
Class of 2018
Hometown: Moscow, Russia

Student Spotlight