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3 Slang Sayings About Broken Dreams in Russian Posted by on Feb 19, 2019 in Culture

Russian has a few fun sayings for talking about getting your hopes up—and getting them crushed. Let’s look at three of them with examples and explanations.

lips and lipstick

Photo by Jakub Gorajek on Unsplash

1. Гу́бы раската́ть

Гу́бы is the plural of губа́, lip. Раската́ть is related to ката́ть and means “to roll out.” So, all together, this saying means “to roll out your lips.” This is a somewhat disparaging way of referring to someone who got ready to receive great benefits before that actually happened—who counted their chicks before they hatched, if you will. Mind that this expression is fairly colloquial and would probably sound rude in a work presentation or any formal setting.

― Представля́ете, Ник, я уже́ всерьёз раската́л губу́ на насле́дство.
“Can you imagine, Nick, I already saw myself getting this inheritance.”
[Андрей Лазарчук, Михаил Успенский. Посмотри в глаза чудовищ (1996)]


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

2. Пролете́ть

Лета́ть-лете́ть (both imperfective) is one of Russian infamous verbs of motion. As a quick review, лета́ть refers to flying back and forth and/or repeatedly, and лететь means to be flying in one direction or at the moment. Пролета́ть/пролете́ть (imperf./perf.) here means “to fly by or fly over something.” In a slang sense of the word, пролета́ть means to be left with nothing or to miss out on something desired. You may also hear the expression “пролета́ть как фане́ра над Пари́жем” (literally, “to fly like cardboard over Paris”). The origin of this expression is disputed. The related noun is пролёт (you could use the expression оста́ться в пролёте to say the same thing).

Тогда́ пролете́ли о́ба. Ни тот ни друго́й не́ были допу́щены до вы́боров.
In that situation, both lost out. Neither was allowed to stand for election.
[Эдуард Лимонов. Так же сожрали капитана Кука // Известия, 2013.11.07]

Here is a video of an early 2000s song that features the line “И я понима́ю, что я пролета́ю” (“And I realize—tough luck for me”).

3. Обло́м

Обло́м is a similar slang expression, which refers to a situation where you don’t get what you want or were hoping for. The related verb for dashing someone’s dreams is обломать (literally, “to break off”). The reflexive verb for having your plans fail is облома́ться.

Поступа́ет. На пе́рвой же се́ссии ― по́лный обло́м. Возвраща́ется к мама́ше.
They are admitted, fail the first round of finals, and go back to mommy.
[Марина Палей. Дань саламандре (2008)]

Have you heard any of these sayings? Are there any slang expressions you enjoy in Russian?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available on her translation site and on Twitter at @intorussian.



    Hi Maria, I was born Russian / Britsh in Qingdao China, a long time ago (1938). My parents decided to move to Australia, and spent the years of WW2 in a Japanese internment camp in Manilla, in the Philippines. I am now an Australian citizen, retired from active work. I spent a few years working as a palaentologist, where part of my work was translating scientific literature from Russian. I enjoy your website, which, I feel, keeps me in touch with my roots. Thank you Maria1

    • Maria:

      @GEORGE HEYS Thank you, George! You’ve got a fascinating family history.