Russian Language Blog

5 Slang Words in Contemporary Russian Posted by on Feb 21, 2020 in Vocabulary

Do you ever find yourself reading an article in Russian on a hip website and seeing a word that doesn’t seem to make sense even after you look it up? This post will look at some expressions that have cropped up or taken on new meanings recently. I will include examples from various Telegram channels. I am not endorsing these examples — they simply illustrate how certain words are used. The author’s spelling and punctuation have been preserved.

sunken ship

Photo by João Ferreira on Unsplash

1. Топи́ть за кого-то

literal meaning: to drown someone, to sink something

additional meaning: to support someone, to root for something, to “stan”


В то вре́мя как мы наоборо́т то́пим за вся́ческую фина́нсовую незави́симость же́нщин и за отме́ну запрещённых профе́ссий.

[Whereas we are pushing for all kinds of financial independence for women and the cancellation of [gender-based] bans on certain occupations.]


2. Мути́ть/замути́ть

origin: the adjective мутный means “murky”

literal meaning: to muddy (the water)

additional meaning: to start something or set something up, like a shady operation or something more innocuous like a get-together or a relationship


Исто́рия деся́тков аге́нтов, где же́нщинам предпи́сывалось игра́ть лу́чших подру́г, кварти́рных хозя́ек, а мужчи́нам — соблазни́ть и замути́ть бли́зкие отноше́ния.

[[This is the story] of dozens of agents, where women were cast to play [the heroine’s] best friends and landladies, and men, to seduce her and get intimate.]


men playing rugby in the mud

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

3. Бомбить: (у) кого-то бомбит

origin: бомба, a bomb

literal meaning: to bomb something

additional meaning: someone can’t even with something, something drives someone insane, someone sees red


О́чень мно́го произведе́ний, напи́санных мужчи́нами, и по́сле того́, как узна́ешь дово́льно мно́го о фемини́зме, бодипозитиве, от не́которых произведе́ний начина́ет немно́го бомби́ть.

[There are many literary works written by men, so after you learn a lot about feminism and body positivity, some works make you see red.]


lamps hanging off the ceiling

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

4. Ла́мповый

origin: лампа, a lamp

literal meaning: referring to a lamp

additional meaning: vintage, rustic, quaint


Е́сли вы быва́ли в Берли́не, то зна́ете, что неме́цкая столи́ца – го́род аналоговый, го́род “ла́мповый”, э́то после́дняя европе́йская столи́ца доцифровой эпо́хи.

[If you’ve been to Berlin, you know that the German capital is an analog and “rustic” city; it’s the last remaining capital of the pre-digital age in Europe.]


5. Зашква́р

origin: from criminal/prison slang “зашквариться” — to humiliate yourself, e.g. by touching something dirty

additional meaning: something shameful or embarrassing


Перево́ды появля́ются по не́сколько в день (э́то плюс), но рекла́ма на са́йте про́сто зашквар (ми́нус).

[Translations are posted a few times a day (that’s a plus), but there is an ungodly number of ads on the website (that’s a minus).]


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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.