Russian Language Blog

4 Business Failure Verbs in Russian Posted by on Oct 7, 2019 in Vocabulary

You might have heard the news that the Thomas Cook travel agency has gone under. The company had purchased two Russian subsidiaries (доче́рние предприя́тия), Intourist (Интури́ст) and Biblio-Globus (Би́блио-Гло́бус), but their management has assured their customers that the Russian-based companies would not be affected. This may be a good opportunity to look at some vocabulary having to do with business failure and bankruptcy. As usual, verbs will be given in pairs of imperfective and perfective.

man turning out his empty pockets

Image by Darko Djurin from Pixabay

1. Прогора́ть/прогоре́ть

This word is related to the word “горе́ть,” to burn. Прогоре́ть literally means “to burn through” and is a somewhat colloquial way of saying a company has gone under or a person losing their investment.

Так что вопро́с о поку́пке необходи́мых рабо́чих инструме́нтов в креди́т, будь то компью́тер, автомоби́ль и́ли что-нибу́дь ещё, не рассма́тривается. Сли́шком большо́й риск прогоре́ть и оста́ться с долга́ми.

So we’re not going to consider taking out loans to buy the needed tools of the trade such as a computer, car, or something else. The risk of losing your investment and being left with the debt is too high.

[Иван Ламыкин. Всего одна тысяча // «Бизнес-журнал», 2004.08.17]

woman counting money

Photo by Sabine Peters on Unsplash

2. Разоря́ться/разори́ться

Разори́ться is a slightly less colloquial equivalent of “to go broke.” This verb refers to running out of money or making a loss.

Большинство́ да́же кру́пных предприя́тий уже́ рабо́тают на гра́ни рента́бельности и снижа́ют объёмы произво́дства, а те, кто не успе́л модернизи́роваться, мо́гут разори́ться.

Even among large companies, most are operating on the brink of profitability and are cutting back their production, and those who have not had the chance to modernize can go out of business.

[Софья Инкижинова. Разгулялись // «Эксперт», 2013]

Interestingly, the non-reflexive verb разоря́ть/разори́ть means “make someone go broke.”

3. Ло́паться/ло́пнуть

This verb refers to bursting — sometimes quite literally, like a bubble (пузы́рь ло́пнул — the bubble has burst). When it comes to businesses, we use this word to talk about a bank or another financial institution going under, not a physical person! A figurative bubble on the stock market can also be described with this verb.

Мо́жно отнести́ де́ньги в банк, но кто мо́жет гаранти́ровать, что он не ло́пнет?

You can take your money to a bank, but who can guarantee the bank won’t go under?

[Елена Камзолкина. Храните деньги, не выходя из кассы // «Вечерняя Москва», 2002.01.10]

scrabble tiles spelling bankrupt

Image by Simon Hill from Pixabay

4. Банкро́титься/обанктро́титься

This verb means to go bankrupt, the same as стать банкро́том. Note that the imperfective form is rare, and you usually come across the perfective обанкро́титься. The related noun is банкро́т — the person or entity who has gone bankrupt. Bankruptcy is банкро́тство.

За 48 лет существова́ния «Мондраго́ны» из всех его́ фирм обанкро́тились то́лько три.

Over the 48 years of Mondragon’s existence, only three of its companies have gone bankrupt.

[Н. Пирогов. От мотивации труда к развитию общества // «Наука и жизнь», 2007]

Have you heard any of these? Now you can use them to talk about the latest business that’s gone under!

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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 in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.