5 Russian expressions with a funny twist

5 Russian expressions with a funny twist

Russia is a big country. In fact, it is the biggest country in the world! With such a big country it comes as no surprise that Russian expressions are as funny as they make them. And another cool fact, which may come as no surprise for most of you: Russian is one of the most spoken languages in the world, with many speakers worldwide.

I’ve always liked both the language and the culture and I made the decision to study it at University. Moreover, I’ve always appreciated how creative Russians are, thus the language has multiple particularities which make it stand out. When you learn a foreign language, it is important to learn it inside out: basic vocabulary, idioms, formal vocabulary, and even slang and swear words.

I’m not here to talk about all of these. I like some Russian expressions and I find them funny, so this is the topic I will tackle today: 5 Russian expressions with a funny twist.

1. Да нет, наверное (Da, nyet, navernoye)

When I first heard this expression, I just laughed. If we take it literally, this expression translates as “Yes no, maybe”. So, is it yes, is it no, or is it maybe? This is very confusing for people who don’t know the language and the real question is: what does it mean? Well, it actually means no, but the way it’s said and written has a lesser impact on the person who hears it (because it is not straight up “no”)

2. Тянуть кота за хвост (tyanut’ kota za hvost)

I absolutely love this one. We have the same expression in Romanian and it literally means “to pull a cat’s tail”. It has the same meaning in both Romanian and Russian (it means to do nothing, to procrastinate, to ignore your responsibilities). I’m used to the Romanian version because my grandma says it all the time when someone does nothing. As a cat lover, I’d never pull my cat’s tail, but sometimes I’d rather spend time with my cat than to work, so I guess this is accurate after all. And obviously funny!

3. Вешать лапшу на уши (Veshat’ lapshu na ushi)

Literally, this means “to hang noodles on the ears”. But it’s obvious that we can’t translate it that way. This expression is used when somebody is lying through their teeth.

4. Выводить из себя (vyvodit’ iz sebya)

This literally means “to lead someone from themselves”, but it means “to cause someone to lose their temper” or to annoy someone to the point where they aren’t themselves anymore. I love this one because I am very short-tempered and some situations or people annoy me more than they should.

5. Быть не в своей тарелке (byt’ ne v svoyey tarelke)

Literally, this translates to “not to be on one’s own plate”, but Russians use this in order to show that they are out of their element. It is often used to indicate something that made one feel weird or uncomfortable.

As you can see, the Russian language is very “coloured” and these expressions show creativity and ingenuity. Obviously, there are more funny and interesting Russian expressions, but these are the ones that have caught my eye when I first started learning the language and they have a special place for me.

Don’t forget to read these incredible Russian authors.


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