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This page transcribes Russian (written in Cyrillic script) using the IPA. For a quick overview of Russian pronunciation, see Help:IPA/Russian.

Many languages, including English, contain words (Russianisms) most likely borrowed from the Russian language. Not all of the words are truly fluent Russian or Slavic origin. Some of them co-exist in other Slavic languages and it is difficult to decide whether they made English from Russian or, say, from Bulgarian. Some other words are borrowed or constructed from the classical ancient languages, such as Latin or Greek. Still others are themselves borrowed from indigenous peoples that Russians have come into contact with in Russian or Soviet territory.

Compared to other source languages, very few of the words borrowed into English come from Russian.[1] Direct borrowing first began with contact between England and Russia in the 16th century and picked up heavily in the 20th century with the establishment of the Soviet Union as a major world power.[2] Most of them are used to denote things and notions specific to Russia, Russian culture, politics, history, especially well known outside Russia. Some others are in mainstream usage, independent of any Russian context.

While both languages are distantly related members of Indo-European and therefore share a common ancestor, Proto-Indo-European, cognate pairs such as mother - мать (matʹ) will be excluded from the list.


-nik, a borrowed suffix (also used in Yiddish)

Babushka[3] (Russian: ба́бушка [ˈbabuʂkə] "grandmother", "granny" or just an old woman), a headscarf folded diagonally and tied under the chin (this meaning is absent in the Russian language). Also unlike in the Russian language, the accent is made on u instead the first a.

Balalaika[3] (Russian: балала́йка, [bəlɐˈlajkə]) A triangle-shaped mandolin-like musical instrument with three strings.

Balaclava (Russian: Балаклава) (Tatar origin) A knitted hat that covers the face. First used in the British army during the Crimean war of 1853-56. From the name of the town of Balaklava, russified Tatar 'Baliqlava'. This usage in Russian is fairly recent and comes from English.

Bridge game (from the Old East Slavic: бирич biritch).

Cosmonaut[3] Russian: космона́вт (IPA [kəsmɐˈnaft], a Russian or Soviet astronaut. (from κόσμος kosmos, a Greek word, which in Russian stands for 'outer space', rather than 'world' or 'universe', and nautes 'sailor', thus 'space sailor'; the term cosmonaut was first used in 1959; the near similar word "cosmonautic" had been coined in 1947). Cosmodrome (by analogy with aerodrome) was coined to refer to a launching site for Russian spacecraft.[3]

Gulag (Russian ГУЛА́Г, acronym for Главное Управление Исправительно-Трудовых Лагерей и колоний) (Russian acronym for Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i kolonii, The Chief Administration (or Directorate) of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies.)

  1. (historical) In the former Soviet Union, an administered system of corrective labor camps and prisons.
  2. (figurative) A coercive institution, or an oppressive environment.

Intelligentsia (Russian: интеллиге́нция [ɪntʲɪlʲɪˈɡʲentsɨjə]; from Latin intelligence, intelligentia from inter "between", and legare "to choose")

  1. The part of a nation (originally in pre-revolutionary Russia) having aspirations to intellectual activity, a section of society regarded as possessing culture and political initiative; plural the members of this section of a nation or society.
  2. In the former Soviet Union, the intellectual elite.

Kazakh (Russian: каза́х) (Russian, late 16th century, Kazak, from Turkic meaning "vagabond" or "nomad", name of the ethnicity was transliterated into English from Russian spelling. The self-appellation is "Kazak" or "Qazaq".) Kazakh people.

Knout (Russian: кнут [knut]) perhaps from Swedish knutpiska, a kind of whip, or Germanic origin Knute, Dutch Knoet, Anglo-Saxon cnotta, English knot) A whip formerly used as an instrument of punishment in Russia; the punishment inflicted by the knout.

Kopeck (Russian: копе́йка, [kɐˈpʲejkə]; derives from the Russian (копьё [kɐˈpʲjo] 'spear') a reference to the image of a rider with a spear on the coins minted by Moscow after the capture of Novgorod in 1478) A Russian currency, a subunit of Ruble, 100 kopecks is equal to 1 ruble.

Kremlin (Russian: кремль [krʲemlʲ]; Russian for "fortress", "citadel" or "castle") A citadel or fortified enclosure within a Russian town of city, especially the Kremlin of Moscow; (the Kremlin) Metonym for the government of the former USSR, and to a lesser of extent of Russian post-Soviet government.

Mammoth (Russian: ма́монт mamont [ˈmamənt], from Yakut мамонт mamont, probably mama, "earth", perhaps from the notion that the animal burrowed in the ground) Any various large, hairy, extinct elephants of the genus Mammuthus, especially the woolly mammoth. 2. (adjective) Something of great size.

Matryoshka also Russian nested doll, stacking doll, Babushka doll, or Russian doll (Russian: матрёшка [mɐˈtrʲɵʂkə]. A set of brightly colored wooden dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside another. "Matryoshka" is a derivative of the Russian female first name "Matryona", which is traditionally associated with a corpulent, robust, rustic Russian woman.

Pogrom (from Russian: погро́м; from "громи́ть" gromit "to destroy"; the word came to English through Yiddish פאָגראָם c.1880–1885)Definition of pogrom |

  1. (early 20th century) A riot against Jews.
  2. (general) An organized, officially tolerated[clarification needed] attack on any community or group.
  3. (transitive verb) Massacre or destroy in a pogrom.

Ruble (Rouble) (from Russian: рубль rubl [ˈrublʲ], from Old Russian рубли rubli "cut" or "piece", probably originally a piece cut from a silver ingot bar (grivna) from Russian руби́ть, rubiti meaning "to chop". Historically, "ruble" was a piece of a certain weight chopped off a silver ingot (grivna), hence the name. An alternate etymology may suggest the name comes from the Russian noun рубе́ц, rubets, i.e., the seam that is left around the coin after casting: silver was added to the cast in two goes. Therefore, the word ruble means "a cast with a seam".) The Russian unit of currency.

Sable (from Russian: sobol – со́боль [ˈsobəlʲ], ultimately from Persian سمور samor) A carnivorous mammal of the Mustelidae family native to Northern Europe and Asia.

Samovar (Russian: самова́р, IPA: [səmɐˈvar] (Russian само samo "self" and варить varit "to boil" hence "self-boil") A traditional Russian tea urn, with an internal heating device for heating water for tea and keep the water at boiling point.

Sputnik (historical, aside from the name of the program) (Russian: "спу́тник" - "satellite" (in space and astronomy), in Russian its initial meaning is "travelling companion" from s "co-" + put "way" or "journey" + noun suffix -nik person connected with something; it means "satellite" when referring to astronomy related topics). This term is now dated in English.

  1. In English, the best known meaning is the name of a series of unmanned artificial earth satellites launched by the Soviet Union from 1957 to the early 1960s; especially Sputnik 1 which on October 4, 1957 became the first man-made object to orbit the earth.

Taiga (Russian: тайга́, originally from Mongolian or Turkic). The swampy, coniferous forests of high northern latitudes, especially referring to that between the tundra and the steppes of Siberia.

Troika (Russian: тро́йка [ˈtrojkə] "threesome" or "triumvirate")

  1. (mid 19th century) A Russian vehicle, either a wheeled carriage or a sleigh, drawn by three horses abreast.
  2. A Russian folk dance with three people, often one man and two women.
  3. (historical) a) In the former Soviet Union, a commission headed by three people; especially NKVD Troika. b) In the former Soviet Union, a group of three powerful Soviet leaders; especially referring to the 1953 Troika of Georgy Malenkov, Lavrentiy Beria, and Vyacheslav Molotov that briefly ruled the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin.
  4. A group of three people or things working together, especially in an administrative or managerial capacity.[citation needed]

Tundra (Russian: тундра, originally from Lappish). An Arctic steppe.

Ushanka (Russian: уша́нка [uˈʂaŋkə]), or shapka-ushanka the word derives from Russian "уши" "ushi" - ears (and also flaps of ushanka) - ear-flaps hat, a type of cap (Russian: ша́пка shapka) made of fur with ear flaps that can be tied up to the crown of the cap, or tied at the chin to protect the ears from the cold.


Beef Stroganoff or Stroganov (Russian: бефстроганов, tr. befstróganov) is a Russian dish of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with smetana (sour cream).

Blini (Russian plural: блины, singular: блин), are thin pancakes or crepes traditionally made with yeasted batter, although non-yeasted batter has become widespread in recent times. Blini are often served in connection with a religious rite or festival, but also constitute a common breakfast dish.

Coulibiac (origin 1895-1900, from Russian: кулебя́ка kulebyáka, an oblong loaf of fish, meat, or vegetables, baked in a pastry shell; of uncert. orig) A Russian fish pie typically made with salmon or sturgeon, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, and dill, baked in a yeast or puff pastry shell.

Kefir (Russian: кефи́р [kəˈfir]; is a fermented milk drink made with kefir "grains" (a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter) and has its origins in the north Caucasus Mountains

Medovukha (Russian: медову́ха, from мёд) (Proto-Indo-European meddhe, "honey"). A Russian honey-based alcoholic beverage similar to mead.

Okroshka (Russian: окро́шка) from Russian "kroshit" (крошить) meaning to chop (into small pieces) A type of Russian cold soup with mixed raw vegetables and kvass.

Pavlova A meringue dessert topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, popular mainly in Australia and New Zealand; named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. Pavlova Cake History

Pelmeni (Russian plural: пельме́ни, singular пельме́нь, pelmen′ from Udmurt: пельнянь "ear[-formed] bread"). An Eastern European dumpling made with minced meat, especially beef and pork, wrapped in thin dough and cooked similarly to pasta.

Pirozhki (Russian plural: пирожки́, singular пирожо́к) An Eastern European baked or fried bun stuffed with a variety of fillings.

Rassolnik (Russian: рассольник), is a hot soup in a salty-sour cucumber base. This dish formed in Russian cuisine quite late—only in the 19th century.

Sbiten (Russian: сби́тень) A traditional Russian honey-based drink similar to Medovukha.

Sevruga (Russian: севрю́га) A caviar from the Sevruga, a type of sturgeon found only in the Caspian and Black Seas.

Shchi (Russian: щи) A type of cabbage soup.

Solyanka (Russian: соля́нка; [sɐˈlʲankə]) is a thick, spicy and sour Russian soup that is common in Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union and certain parts of the former Eastern Bloc.

Ukha (Russian: Уха), is a clear Russian soup, made from various types of fish such as bream, wels catfish, northern pike, or even ruffe.

Vareniki (Russian plural: вареники, singular: вареник; "var" from Old Russian "варить" - to boil). A type of pasta parcels tradionally filled with mashed potatoes, cabbage, cottage cheese or cherries and then boiled in a similar way to pasta.

Political and administrative

Active measures[4] (Russian: активные мероприятия, romanized: aktivnye meropriyatiya) is political warfare conducted by the Soviet or Russian government since the 1920s. It includes offensive programs such as disinformation, propaganda, deception, sabotage, destabilization and espionage.

Agitprop[3] (Russian: агитпро́п; blend of Russian агита́ция agitatsiya "agitation" and пропага́нда propaganda "propaganda"; origin 1930s' from shortened form of отде́л агита́ции и пропага́нды, transliteration otdel agitatsii i propagandy, ('Department for Agitation and Propaganda'), which was part of the Central and regional committees of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The department was later renamed Ideological Department.)

Apparatchik[3] plural apparatchiki (Russian: аппара́тчик) [ɐpɐˈrat͡ɕɪk] (from Russian аппара́т apparat in sense of "gosudarstvenniy apparat" ["state machine"])

Bolshevik[3] (Russian большеви́к) [bəlʲʂɨˈvʲik] (from Russian "большинство́", "bolshinstvo" - majority, which derives from "бо́льше" bol'she - 'more','greater'.

Cheka[3] (Russian: Всероссийская чрезвычайная комиссия по борьбе с контрреволюцией и саботажем, acronym for The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Speculation, and Sabotage, abbreviated to Cheka (Chrezvychaynaya Komissiya, ChK; Чрезвычайная Комиссия, ЧК – pronounced "Che-Ká") or VCheka; In 1918 its name was slightly altered to "All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Profiteering and Corruption") The first Soviet state security organization (1917–1922), it was later transformed and reorganized into the GPU.

Commissar[3] (Russian комисса́р) (Russian комиссариа́т commissariat reinforced by medieval Latin commissariatus, both from medieval Latin commissarius "person in charge" from Latin committere "entrust"' term "commissar" first used in 1918)

  1. An official of the communist party, especially in the former Soviet Union or present day China, responsible for political education and organization; A head of a government department in the former Soviet Union before 1946, when the title was changed to Minister.
  2. (figurative) A strict or prescriptive figure of authority.

Disinformation is a loan translation of the Russian dezinformatsiya (дезинформа́ция)[5][6][7] derived from the title of a KGB black propaganda department.[8] Disinformation was defined in Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1952) as "false information with the intention to deceive public opinion".[5][6]

Druzhina also Druzhyna, Drużyna (Russian and Ukrainian: дружи́на) (Slavic drug (друг) meaning "companion" or "friend" related to Germanic drotiin, Proto-Germanic *druhtinaz meaning "war band") (historical) A detachment of select troops in East Slav countries who performed service for a chieftain, later knyaz. Its original functions were bodyguarding, raising tribute from the conquered territories and serving as the core of an army during war campaigns. In Ukrainian, the word дружина means legal wife.

Duma (Russian: Ду́ма) (from Russian word ду́мать dumat', "to think" or "to consider")

  1. (historical) A pre-19th century advisory municipal councils in Russia, later it referred to any of the four elected legislature bodies established due to popular demand in Russia from 1906 to 1917.
  2. The legislative body in the ruling assembly of Russia (and some other republics of the former Soviet Union) established after the fall of communism in 1993.
The State Duma (Russian: Государственная Дума (Gosudarstvennaya Duma), common abbreviation: Госду́ма (Gosduma)) in the Russian Federation is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia (legislature), the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia.

Dvoryanstvo singular dvoryanin дворяни́н, plural dvoryane дворя́не (Russian дворя́нство Dvoryanstvo meaning "nobility" from Russian dvor (двор) referring to the court of a prince or duke kniaz and later of the tsar) (historical) Term for the Russian nobility that arose in the 14th century and essentially governed Russia until the Russian Revolution.

Dyak (clerk) (Russian дьяк), diminutive - Dyachok (Russian дьячо́к) (historical) A member of the church workers in Russia who were not part of the official hierarchy of church offices and whose duties included reading and singing.

Glasnost (Russian: гла́сность [ˈɡlasnəsʲtʲ]; glasnost - publicity, from "гласный" "glasniy" - public, from glas voice, from Old Church Slavonic glasu). In the late 20th century an official policy in the former Soviet Union (especially associated with Mikhail Gorbachev) emphasizing transparency, openness with regard to discussion of social problems and shortcomings.

Glavlit (Russian acronym for Main Administration for Literary and Publishing Affairs, later renamed Main Administration for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Russian: Главное управление по охране государственных тайн в печати ГУОГТП (ГУОТ), trans. Glavnoe upravlenie po okhrane gosudarstvennykh tayn v pechati) (historical) The official censorship and state secret protection organ in the Soviet Union.

Kadet[3] (Russian: Конституционная Демократическая партия, The Constitutional Democratic Party or Constitutional Democrats, formally Party of Popular Freedom, informally called Kadets, or Cadets from the abbreviation K-D of the party name [the term was political, and not related to military students who are called cadets]) (historical) A liberal political party in Tsarist Russia founded in 1905, it largely dissolved after the Russian Civil War.

Khozraschyot or Khozraschet (Russian: хозрасчёт, хозя́йственный расчёт, literally "economic accounting") A method of the planned running of an economic unit (i.e., of a business, in Western terms) based on the confrontation of the expenses incurred in production with the production output, on the compensation of expenses with the income; often referred to as the attempt to simulate the capitalist concepts of profit into the planned economy of the Soviet Union.

Kolkhoz plural kolkhozy (Russian: колхо́з, [kɐlˈxos]; 1920s origin; Russian contraction of коллекти́вное хозя́йство, kol(lektivnoe) khoz(yaisto) "collective farm") A form of collective farming in the former Soviet Union.

Kompromat (Russian: компрометирующий материал) contraction of 'compromising' and 'material'. It refers to disparaging information that can be collected, stored, traded, or used strategically across all domains: political, electoral, legal, professional, judicial, media, and business. The origins of the term trace back to 1930s secret police jargon.

Konyushy (Russian коню́ший) (Russian literally "equerry" or "master of the horse") (historical) A boyar in charge of the stables of the Russian rulers, duties which included parade equipage, ceremonies of court ride-offs, and military horse breeding.

Korenizatsiya also korenization (Russian: корениза́ция) (Russian meaning "nativization" or "indigenization", literally "putting down roots", from the Russian term коренно́е населе́ние korennoye naseleniye "root population")

Kulak (Russian: кула́к, literally "fist", meaning "tight-fisted" ) Originally a prosperous Russian landed peasant in czarist Russia, later the term was used with hostility by Communists during the October Revolution as an exploiter and strong adherent of private property and liberal values, that is opposite to communists; they were severely repressed under the rule of Joseph Stalin in the 1930s.

Krai also Kray (Russian: край, 1. edge. 2.1. country, land (as poetic word). 2.2. krai, territory (as adm.-terr. unit).[9]) Term for eight of Russia's 85 federal subjects, often translated as territory, province, or region.

Leninism (Russian: ленини́зм) (after Vladimir Lenin, the term was coined in 1918) The political, economic and social principles and practices of the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, especially his theory of government which formed the basis for Soviet communism.

Lishenets (Russian: лише́нец) (from Russian лишение, "deprivation", properly translated as a disenfranchised) (historical) A certain group of people in the Soviet Union who from 1918 to 1936 were prohibited from voting and denied other rights.

Menshevik (Russian: меньшеви́к) (from Russian word меньшинство́ menshinstvo "minority" from ме́ньше men'she "less"; the name Menshevik was coined by Vladimir Lenin when the party was (atypically) in the minority for a brief period) (historical) A member of the non-Leninist wing of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, opposed to the Bolsheviks who defeated them during the Russian Civil War that followed the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Mir (Russian: мир) (from Russian mir, meaning both "world" and "peace")

Namestnik (Russian: наме́стник, [nɐˈmʲesnʲɪk]; Russian literally "deputy" or "lieutenant") (historical)

  1. (12th–16th century) An official who ruled an uyezd and was in charge of local administration.
  2. (18th-20th century) A type of viceroy in Russia who ruled a namestnichestvo and had plenipotentiary powers.

Narkompros (Russian: Наркомпро́с) (Russian Народный комиссариат просвещения, an abbreviation for the People's Commissariat for Enlightenment (historical) The Soviet Union agency charged with the administration of public education and most of other issues related to culture such as literature and art. Founded by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution, it was renamed in 1946 to the Ministry of Enlightening.

Narodniks (Russian: plural наро́дники, singular наро́дник) (from Russian narod "people", in turn from expression "Хождение в народ" meaning "going to the people") (historical) The name for Russian revolutionaries (active 1860s to 1880s) that looked on the peasants and intelligentsia as revolutionary forces, rather than the urban working class.

NEP or The New Economic Policy (NEP) (Russian: нэп, acronym for но́вая экономи́ческая поли́тика Novaya Ekonomicheskaya Politika) (historical) An economic policy instituted in 1921 by Lenin to attempt to rebuild industry and especially agriculture. The policy was later reversed by Stalin.

Nomenklatura (Russian: номенклату́ра) (Russian nomenklatura, from the Latin nomenclatura meaning a list of names) (historical) In the former Soviet Union, a list of influential posts in government and industry to be filled by Communist Party appointees; collectively the holders of these posts, the Soviet élite.

Obshchina (Russian: ́община, общи́на) (Russian о́бщий obshchiy common, commune) Russian peasant agrarian communities during Imperialist Russia.

Okhrana in full The Okhrannoye otdeleniye (Russian: Охра́нное отделе́ние) (Russian literally "Protection Section") (historical) The secret police organization (established in the 1860s) for protection of the Russian czarist regimes. It ended with the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917, who set up their own secret police organization called the Cheka.

Okrug (Russian: о́круг) (Russian okrug is similar to the German word Bezirk ("district"), both words refer to something "encircled")

Oprichnina (Russian: опри́чнина) (Russian from obsolete Russian word опричь oprich meaning "apart from" or "separate") (historical) Term for the domestic policy of Russian czar Ivan the Terrible.

Oprichnik plural Oprichniki (Russian: опри́чник) (historical) Name given to the bodyguards of Russian ruler Ivan the Terrible who ruthlessly suppressed any opposition to his reign.

Perestroika (Russian: перестро́йка) (Russian perestroika literally "restructuring", the term was first used in 1986) The reform of the political and economic system of the former Soviet Union, first proposed by Leonid Brezhnev at the 26th Communist Party Congress in 1979, and later actively promoted by Mikhail Gorbachev from 1985.

Podyachy (Russian: подья́чий) (Russian from the Greek hypodiakonos, "assistant servant") (historical) An office occupation in prikazes (local and upper governmental offices) and lesser local offices of Russia from the 15th to the 18th century.

Politburo (Russian Политбюро́ politbyuro from Полити́ческое бюро́ polit(icheskoe) byuro "political bureau") (historical) The principal policymaking committee in the former Soviet Union that was founded in 1917; also known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966.

Posadnik (Russian: поса́дник) (from Old Church Slavic posaditi, meaning to put or place, since originally they were placed in the city to rule in behalf of the prince of Kiev) (historical) A mayor (equivalent to a stadtholder, burgomeister, or podesta in the medieval west) in some East Slavic cities, notably in the Russian cities of Novgorod and Pskov; the title was abolished in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Praporshchik (Russian: пра́порщик) (from Slavonic prapor (прапор), meaning flag, since the praporshchik was a flag-bearer in Kievan Rus troops) The name of a junior officer position in the military of the Russian Empire equivalent to ensign. Nowadays this rank is used by modern Russian army, police and FSB and is equivalent to warrant officer.

Prikaz (Russian: прика́з)

  1. (historical) An administrative (palace, civil, military, or church) or judicial office in Muscovy and Russia of 15th–18th centuries; abolished by Peter the Great.
  2. In modern Russian, an administrative[citation needed] or military order (to do something).

Propiska (Russian: пропи́ска) (Russian full term пропи́ска по ме́сту жи́тельства, "The record of place of residence", from Russian verb propisat "to write into" in reference to write a passport into a registration book of the given local office) (historical) a regulation promulgated by the Russian Czar designed to control internal population movement by binding a person to his or her permanent place of residence. Abolished by Lenin, but later reinstated under Stalin in the Soviet Union.

Silovik (Russian: силови́к), plural siloviks or siloviki (Russian: силовики́) (from Russian си́ла sila - strength, force), a collective name for ministers, generals and other officials of "силовые ведомства" "siloviye vedomstva" - force departments - ministries and other departments which have arms (weapons) and ability to use armed force, such as the Army, FSB(KGB), MVD (Police). The term siloviks is often used to highlight or suggest their inclination use force to solve problems.

Soviet (Russian: сове́т) (Russian sovet "council") (historical)

Sovkhoz plural Sovkhozes (Russian: совхо́з) (Russian сове́тское хозя́йство, (Sov) eckoje (khoz)yaistvo, "soviet farm")

Sovnarkhoz (Russian: Совнархо́з) (Russian Сове́т Наро́дного Хозя́йства, Sovet Narodnogo Hozyaistva, Council of National Economy, usually translated as "Regional Economic Council") (historical) An organization of the former Soviet Union to manage a separate economic region.

Sovnarkom (Russian: Сове́т Мини́стров СССР) (Russian Sovet Ministrov SSSR, Council of Ministers of the USSR , sometimes abbreviated form Совми́н Sovmin was used; between 1918 and 1946 it was named the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR (Совет Народных Комиссаров СССР, Russian Sovet Narodnykh Komissarov SSSR, sometimes Sovnarkom or SNK shortcuts were used).) (historical) In the former the Soviet Union, the highest executive and administrative body.

Spetsnaz or Specnaz (Russian: Войска́ специа́льного назначе́ния – спецна́з) or Russian special purpose regiments (Voyska spetsialnogo naznacheniya) A general term for the police or military units within the Soviet Union (later Russian Federation) who engage in special activities. Similar to South African term Commandos.

Stakhanovite (Russian: стаха́новец) (after Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov (Алексе́й Григо́рьевич Стаха́нов), a coal miner from Donbass noted for his superior productivity; the Soviet authorities publicized Stakhanov's prodigious output in 1935 as part of a campaign to increase industrial output)

Stalinism (Russian сталини́зм; the term Stalinism was first used in 1927; the term was not used by Stalin himself, as he considered himself a Marxist-Leninist).

Stavka (Russian: Ста́вка) (historical) The General Headquarters of armed forces in late Imperial Russia and in the former Soviet Union.

Streltsy singular strelitz, plural strelitzes or strelitzi (Russian: стрельцы́, singular: стреле́ц strelets "bowman") (historical) Units of armed guardsmen created by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century and later abolished by Peter the Great.

Tovarishch also Tovarich (Russian: това́рищ IPA [tɐˈvarʲɪɕɕ], tovarishch sense "close friend", often "travelmate", referring[citation needed] to the noun това́р tovar "merchandise"); In the former Soviet Union, a comrade; often used as a form of address.

Tsar also Czar, Tzar, Csar, and Zar (Russian: царь [t͡sarʲ], English /ˈzɑːr/: from Latin Caesar).

Tsarina also tsaritsa (formerly spelled czaritsa), czarina, German zarin, French tsarine (Russian: цари́ца) (Russian, etymology from tsar) (historical) The wife of a tsar; also the title for the Empress of Russia.

Tsarevna also czarevna (Russian царе́вна, etymology from tsar).

Tsarevich also tsesarevich, czarevich, tzarevitch Russian: царе́вич, early 18th century, from tsar + patronymic -evich (historical) The eldest son of an emperor of Russia; the male heir to a tsar.

Tysyatsky also tysiatsky (Russian: ты́сяцкий) (sometimes translated as dux or Heerzog but more correctly meaning thousandman; sometimes translated into the Greek chilliarch literally meaning "rule of a thousand") (historical) A military leader in Ancient Rus who commanded a people's volunteer army called tysyacha (Russian: ты́сяча), or a thousand.

Ukase (Russian: ука́з [ʊˈkas] ordinance, edict, from ukazat to show) (pronunciation:[10] /juːˈkeɪs/; yoo-KASE), a decree:

  1. (historical) In Imperial Russia, a proclamation or edict of the ruling tsar or tsarina, the Russian government, or a religious leader (patriarch) that had the force of law.
  2. (historical) In the former Soviet Union, a government edict issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and subject to later ratification by the Supreme Soviet.
  3. In the Russian Federation, a Presidential decree.

Uskoreniye (Russian: ускоре́ние, literally "acceleration") A slogan and a policy initiated in 1985 by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev which aimed at the acceleration of social and economic development of the Soviet Union.

Votchina also otchina (Russian: во́тчина (о́тчина) "father's heritage") (historical)

  1. An East Slavic land estate that could be inherited
  2. The land owned by a knyaz.

Yevsektsiya also Yevsektsia (Russian: ЕвСе́кция) (from the abbreviation of the phrase "Евре́йская се́кция" Yevreyskaya sektsiya) (historical) The Jewish section of the Soviet Communist party that was created in 1918 to challenge and eventually destroy the rival Bund and Zionist parties, suppress Judaism and "bourgeois nationalism" and replace traditional Jewish culture with "proletarian culture." It was disbanded in 1929.

Zampolit (Russian замполи́т, the abbreviation of (Зам)еститель командира по (полит)ической части, "Officer's in command deputy for political matters") A military or political commissar.

Zek (Russian abbreviation[citation needed] of ЗаКлючённый (З/К), zaklyuchennyi (Z/K) meaning "incarcerated") (historical) In the former Soviet Union, a person held in a Gulag or in a prison.

Zemshchina (from Russian земля́ zemlya "earth" or "land") (historical) The territory under the rule of the boyars who stayed in Moscow during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. It was separate from the rule of Ivan's own territory, which was administered by the Oprichnina.

Zemsky Sobor (Russian: зе́мский собо́р) (Russian assembly of the land) (historical) The first Russian parliament of the feudal Estates type during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Zemstvo (Russian: зе́мство) (historical) A district and provincial assembly in Russia from 1864 to 1917.


Beglopopovtsy also Beglopopovtsy (Russian: Беглопоповцы, translated as "people with runaway priests") (historical) A denomination of the Old Believers which included priests who had deserted the Russian Orthodox Church during the Raskol.

Bespopovtsy also Bespopovtsy (Russian: Беспоповцы, "priestless") A denomination of the Old Believers which that rejected the priests and a number of church rites such as the Eucharist.

Chlysty also Khlysts, Khlysty (Russian: Хлысты) (invented Russian word Христоверы, transliteration Khristovery, "Christ-believers"; later critics corrupted the name, mixing it with the word хлыст khlyst, meaning "whip") (historical) A Christian sect in Russia that split from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century and renounced the priesthood, holy books, and veneration of the saints. They were noted for their practice of asceticism which included ecstatic rituals.

Doukhobor plural Doukhobors or Doukhabors (also Dukhobory, or Dukhobortsy) (Russian: Духоборы/Духоборцы) (Russian doukhobor literally "spirit wrestlers") A Christian sect, later defined as a religious philosophy, ethnic group, and social movement, which in the 18th century rejected secular government, the Russian Orthodox priests, icons, all church ritual, the Bible as the supreme source of divine revelation, and the divinity of Jesus. Widely persecuted by the Russian Tsarist regimes, many of them immigrated to Canada in the late 19th century.

Edinoverie (Russian: Единоверие 'Unity in faith'), the practice of integrating Old Believer communities into the official Russian Orthodox Church while preserving their rites. The adherents are Edinovertsy ('People of the same faith').

Imiaslavie also Imiabozhie, Imyaslavie, Imyabozhie; also referred as Onomatodoxy (Russian: Имяславие) (Russian "glorification of the name (of God)")

Lipovans also known as Lippovans, or Russian Old Believers. A religious sect that separated from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century, now mostly living in Romanian Dobruja.

Molokan (Russian: Молока́не, from Russian moloko "milk") A Christian sect which broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-16th century and rejected many traditional Christian beliefs including the veneration of religious icons, the Trinity, the worship in cathedrals, and the adherence to saintly holidays.

Pomortsy (Russian: Древлеправославная Поморская Церковь)

Popovtsy also The Popovtsy, or Popovschina (Russian: Поповцы, Поповщина, translated as "priestist people") A branch of the Old Believers who strived to have priests of their own.

Raskol also Raskolnik Russian: раско́л [rɐˈskol] (Russian meaning "split" or "schism") The schism of the Russian Orthodox Church that was triggered by the 1653 reforms of Patriarch Nikon.

Rogozhskoe Soglasie (name from a Moscow cemetery called Rogozhskoe cemetery (Russian: Рогожское кладбище) A denomination among the Popovtsy Old Believers.

Shaman (Russian: шама́н [ʂɐ'man], from the Evenki language). A tribal priest who enters an altered state of consciousness to commune with spirits.

Skoptzy plural Skopets, also Skoptsy, Skoptzi, Skoptsi, Scoptsy (Russian: скопцы, from Russian meaning "castrated one") (historical) A Russian religious sect that practiced self-castration.

Starets (Russian: ста́рец old man, elder) A Russian religious spiritual leader, teacher, or counsellor.

Yurodivy (Russian: юродивый, jurodivyj) A form of Eastern Orthodox asceticism in which one intentionally acts foolish in the eyes of men; a Holy Fool.

Znamennoe singing also Znamenny Chant (Russian: Знаменное пение, or знаменный распев) The traditional liturgical singing in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Technical, special

Chernozem[3] (Russian: чернозём, from rus. черный cherniy 'black' + Slavonic base зем zem 'soil') A dark, humus-rich, fertile soil characteristic of temperate or cool grasslands, especially referring to the soil of the Russian steppes. Ukraine is famous as a country of best chernozem.

Baidarka (Russian: байда́рка, a diminutive form of baidar "boat", baidarka sense "small boat") A type of sea kayak originally made[clarification needed] by the Aleut people of Alaska.

Elektrichka (Russian: электри́чка, informal word for elektropoezd Russian: электропо́езд - electrotrain) A commuter electric train.

Fortochka (Russian: фо́рточка) A small ventilation window spanning the frame of one window pane.

Gley (from Russian Глей) A blueish-grey sticky clay found under some types of very damp soil.

Kalashnikov Alternative name for the AK-47 assault rifle (AK-47 short for Russian: Автома́т Кала́шникова образца́ 1947 го́да, Avtomat Kalashnikova obraztsa 1947 goda Automatic Kalashnikov rifle, invented by Soviet soldier and small arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov and first adopted in 1947; the term "kalashnikov" was not used until 1970) A type of rifle or sub-machine gun of Soviet Union and used in most Eastern Bloc countries during the Cold War. The term later became associated with nationalist, guerrilla and terrorist groups who use it exclusively or extensively.

Ledoyom, intermontane depressions filled with glaciers

Liman (Russian and Ukrainian: лима́н) (from Greek λιμένας "bay" or "port") A type of lake or lagoon formed at the mouth of a river, blocked by a bar of sediments, especially referring to such features along the Danube River and the Black Sea.

Marshrutka (Russian: маршру́тка, [mɐrˈʂrutkə]; Russian from marshrutnoye taxi, Russian Mаршрутное такси, literally "routed taxicab"). A share taxi used in the CIS and Bulgaria. In Kiev, Ukraine and in Russia these are usually large vans (GAZelle, modified Ford Transit or similar) or sometimes mini- or midibuses which go usually faster than ordinary buses and more frequently, but do not have monthly pass tickets and have less obligations to carry invalids, pensioners etc. for discounted/free tickets. The word "taxi" is used as Soviet legacy since in 1980's similar marshrutkas, usually small and comfortable Latvian RAF minibuses, in large cities (like Moscow) could stop by demand (like taxis), but only on their specific route (like ordinary buses) and cost more than ordinary bus (15 kopek instead of 5 kopek). In mid 1990 in some cities small minibuses, usually Russian GAZelle, also could stop by demand. Nowadays marshrutkas are rather small buses, but the word "taxi" is used sometimes, in official cases.

Mirovia (Russian: мирово́й) (from Russian mirovoy, "global", from mir "world) A hypothesized paleo-ocean which may have been a global ocean that surrounded the supercontinent Rodinia in the Neoproterozoic Era about 1 billion to 750 million years ago.

Mormyshka also Mormishka, Marmooska (Russian: мормы́шка) (from Russian mormysh meaning "freshwater shrimp" (Gammaurus) A type of fishing lure or a jig.

Podsol also Podzol, Spodosol (Russian подзо́л from под pod "under" and зол zol "ash") Any group of soils characterized by greyish-white leached and infertile topsoil and a brown subsoil, typically found in regions with a subpolar climate.

Polynia also polynya, polynia (Russian: полынья́; [pəlɨˈnʲja]) A non-linear area of open water surrounded by sea ice; especially referring for areas of sea in the Arctic and Antarctic regions which remain unfrozen for much of the year.

Redan (French word for "projection", "salient", after Russian Реда́н redan, a type of fort that was captured by the British during the Crimean War) A type of fortification work in a V-shaped salient angle toward an expected attack.

Rodinia (from the Russian: ро́дина, "motherland") Name given to hypothesized supercontinent said to have existed from 1 billion to 800 million years ago.

Rasputitsa (Russian: распу́тица) The twice annual season when roads become muddy and impassable in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine due to the melting snows in the spring, and heavy rains in the fall.

Solonchak (Russian солонча́к "salt marsh" from Russian соль, sol "salt") A pale or grey soil-type found in arid to subhumid, poorly drained conditions.

Solonetz (from Russian солоне́ц solonetz "salt not produced by boiling", from Russian соль, sol "salt") An alkaline soil-type having a hard, dark subsoil under a thin friable topsoil, formed by the leaching of salts from a solonchak.

Tokamak (Russian: Токама́к, an abbreviation from the Russian words тороидальная камера в магнитных катушках, transliteration toroidal'naya kamera v magnitnykh katushkakh, toroidal chamber in magnetic coils (Tochamac), invented in the 1950s) In Nuclear fusion, a toroidal apparatus in which plasma is contained by means of two magnetic fields, a strong toroidal field and a weaker poloidal field generated by an intense electric current through the plasma.

Zastruga (zastrugi; Russian sing. застру́га zastruga, pl. застру́ги zastrugi; from стругать "to whittle") sharp irregular grooves or ridges formed on a snow surface by wind erosion, saltation of snow particles, and deposition, and found in polar and temperate snow regions.

Obsolete Russian weights and measures:

Vigorish (Russian: выигрыш vyigrysh "winnings") the amount charged by a bookmaker for taking a bet from a gambler.

Animals and plants

Beluga (sturgeon)[3] (from Russian белу́га beluga, a derivative from белый white): A large kind of sturgeon.

Beluga (whale)[3] (from Russian белу́ха belukha, a derivative from белый white): A type of white whale.

Corsac (from Russian корса́к korsák, the name for the species), a type of fox.

Khramulya (Russian: храму́ля), name of several fish species of family Cyprinidae: Anatolian Khramulya, Colchic Khramulya and Sevan khramulya.

Lenok (Russian: лено́к; otherwise known as Asiatic trout or Manchurian trout), a genus, Brachymystax, of salmonid fishes.

Saiga (from Russian сайга́, the name for the species), a type of antelope.

Sheltopusik (also Scheltopusik; Russian: желтопу́зик, literally "yellow-bellied"), European Legless Lizard (Pseudopus apodus).


These are some other untranslatable Russian terms that have articles in English language Wikipedia.

Banya[3] (Russian: ба́ня) A traditional Russian steam bath.

Bayan (Russian: бая́н) (named after Boyan, a mythical Slavic bard) A type of chromatic button accordion developed in Russia in the early 20th century.

Belomorkanal (Russian: Беломоркана́л)

  1. White Sea – Baltic Canal (Belomorsko-Baltiyskiy Kanal, abbreviated BBK; its original name was Беломо́рско-Балти́йский кана́л и́мени Ста́лина Belomorsko-Baltiyskiy Kanal imeni Stalina, "Stalin White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal", the name Stalin was dropped in 1961 and name was abbreviated to Belomorkanal). A ship canal (opened in 1933) that joins the White Sea with Lake Onega, which is further connected to the Baltic Sea.
  2. Belomorkanal, a brand of cheap Soviet cigarettes.

Burlak (Russian: бурла́к) (Tatar bujdak "homeless" or old middle-German bûrlach originated from an artel [арте́ль] or working team with fixed rules) A Russian epithet for a person who hauled barges and other vessels down dry or shallow waterways from the 17th to 20th centuries.

Bylina[3] (Russian: были́на "[tale of] a past event", plural: были́ны byliny) (Adaptation of Old Russian bylina a word that occurred[citation needed] only The Song of Igor's Campaign and taken to mean "tale of a past event"; the term "bylina" came into use in the 1830s as a scholarly name for what is popularly called "starina"; although byliny originated in the 10th century, or possibly earlier, they were first written down about the 17th century) A traditional form of Old Russian and Russian epic and heroic narrative poetry (transmitted orally) of the early East Slavs of Kievan Rus from the 10th to 12th century, a tradition that continued in Russian and Ukrainian history.

Cantonists singular Cantonist (Russian language: кантони́сты; the term adapted from Prussia for "recruiting district") (historical) Boys, often sons of military conscripts, who attended a type of military school called a Canton (Russian: кантони́стские шко́лы), a school that was originally established by Peter the Great; in the 1820s the term was applied to Jewish boys drafted into the Russian army.

Chainik (Russian: ча́йник, "teakettle")

Chastushka[3] (Russian: часту́шка, derives from "часто" - 'frequently', or from части́ть - old word, that means 'to do something with high frequency', probably refers to high beat frequency (tempo) of chastushkas). A traditional type of short Russian folklore humoruos song with high beat frequency, that consists of one four-lined couplet full of humor, satire, or irony. Usually many chastushkas are sung one after another.

Dacha (Russian: да́ча) A country house or cottage in Russia. In archaic Russian, the word dacha means something given. Initially they were small estates in the country, which were given to loyal vassals by the tsar. Typical Soviet dachas were small 600 square meters (0.15 acres) land plots, given by state to city dwellers where people built their summer houses and grew little gardens.

Dedovshchina (Russian: дедовщи́на) (from Russian ded "grandfather", Russian army slang equivalent of "gramps", meaning soldiers at their third or fourth half-year of conscription, + suffix -shchina order, rule, or regime; hence "rule of the grandfathers") A system of hazing in the Soviet and Russian Army.

GUM (Russian: ГУМ, pronounced as goom, in full Главный Универсальный Магазин, Glavnyi Universalnyi Magazin acronym for Main Universal Store) A common name for the main department store in many cities of the former Soviet Union and some post-Soviet states; especially referring to the GUM facing Red Square in Moscow.

Izba also Isba (origin 1775–85, Russian изба́ izbá, ORuss istŭba house, bath, c. Serbo-Croatian ìzba small room, shack, Czech jizba room, Old Czech jistba, jizdba, all from Slavic *jĭstŭba ≪ VL *extūfa, with short u, perhaps from Germanic *stuba) A traditional log house of rural Russia, with an unheated entrance room and a single living and sleeping room heated by a clay or brick stove.

Junker (Russia) (Russian: ю́нкер) (from Middle High German junc herre "young nobleman", from Old High German jung "young" + herro "lord") (historical) (1864–1917) A student who attended a type of Russian military school called a Junker school. 4. Former rank of a volunteer in the Russian Navy in 19th and 20th centuries.

Katorga (Russian: ка́торга, from Greek: katergon,κάτεργον galley) (historical) A form of penal servitude during Tsarist Russia, later transformed into the Gulags after the Bolshevik takeover of Russia.

Khodebshchik (Russian: ходе́бщик) A person carrying an advertisement hoarding, or a peddler.

Mat (Russian: мат, or ма́терный язы́к) Russian obscene language (profanity).

Muzhik (Russian: мужи́к) - a Russian peasant. Used as a topical calque in translations of Russian prose.

Padonki (Russian: падонки, corrupted подо́нки, meaning 'riff-raff', 'scoundrel', 'scum') A subculture within the Russian-speaking Internet characterized by choosing alternative spellings for words for comic effect.

Palochka (Russian: па́лочка "a little stick") A typographical symbol of the Cyrillic alphabet that looks like the Latin uppercase letter "I". It is used as modifier letter in some Caucasus languages.

Preved (Russian: Преве́д) A Russian Internet slang, corrupted "privet" (приве́т) ("hi", "greetings").

Sambo (Russian: са́мбо) (Russian acronym for САМозащи́та Без Ору́жия, SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya, meaning "self-defense without a weapon") A modern martial art, combat sport and self-defense system originally developed in the former Soviet Union.

Samizdat (Russian: самизда́т) (Russian сам sam "self" and издат izdat short for izdatelstvo "publishing house", hence "self published") (historical) In the former Soviet Union, the system by which government-suppressed literature was clandestinely written, printed and distributed; the term also is applied to literature itself.

Sbitenshchik (Russian: сби́тенщик) (historical) A vendor who sold a sbiten, a type of a traditional Russian hot drink been consumed during the winter.

Sharashka also Sharaga, Sharazhka (Russian: шара́шка IPA: [ʂɐˈraʂkə]) (Russian slang for expression sharashkina kontora "Sharashka's office", possibly from the radical meaning "to beat about", an ironic, derogatory term to denote a poorly organized, impromptu, or bluffing organization) (historical) Informal name for the secret research and development laboratories in the Soviet Union's Gulag labor camp system.

Tamizdat (from Russian тамизда́т: там tam meaning "there" and издат izdat short for изда́тельство izdatelstvo "publishing house") In the former Soviet Union, literary works published outside the country without permission of Soviet authorities.

Zaum (Russian: за́умь or зау́мный язы́к zaumnyy yazyk) (from Russian prefix за "beyond, behind" and noun ум "mind") A type of poetry used by the Russian Futurist poets.

The list of words of Russian origin also includes: army slang, ethnic slurs, Russian mat, military ranks ( poruchik, krasnoarmeyets, krasnoflotets and the like), elements of address (proezd, selo and the like), names of animals (laika, vobla), units of measurement and other words.

The words of Russian origin form the same plural both as in Russian and as in English.

See also


  1. ^ Kabakchi (1997:8), citing Pyles (1964)
  2. ^ Kabakchi (1997:8–11)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Kabakchi (1997:25–41)
  4. ^ "The 9 Russian Words That Explain KremlinGate". Observer. 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  5. ^ a b Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald J. Rychlak (2013), Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, WND Books, pp. 4–6, 34–39, 75, ISBN 978-1-936488-60-5
  6. ^ a b Bittman, Ladislav (1985), The KGB and Soviet Disinformation: An Insider's View, Pergamon-Brassey's, pp. 49–50, ISBN 978-0-08-031572-0
  7. ^ Shultz, Richard H.; Godson, Roy (1984), Dezinformatsia: Active Measures in Soviet Strategy, Pergamon-Brassey's, pp. 37–38, ISBN 978-0-08-031573-7
  8. ^ Garth Jowett; Victoria O'Donnell (2005), "What Is Propaganda, and How Does It Differ From Persuasion?", Propaganda and Persuasion, Sage Publications, pp. 21–23, ISBN 978-1-4129-0898-6, In fact, the word disinformation is a cognate for the Russian dezinformatsia, taken from the name of a division of the KGB devoted to black propaganda.
  9. ^ "Lingvo Dictionary".
  10. ^ OED staff (1989). "ukase, n." (Second ed.). Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1921.