If you have been learning Russian for some time, you might want to sound less like a textbook and more like a native. This is where slang (сленг) can help you! In general, slang means non-standard and informal language that people use on a daily basis but cannot be used, for instance, in an official letter. Slang helps people express themselves better, and you can hear it on the streets, in supermarkets, or in the comments section on any social media platform. Like other widely spoken languages, Russian developed a wide list of words you will hardly find in official dictionaries. So, to better blend in with the natives, this article covers the most important slang words every Russian speaker should understand.
Positive slang words
Although you might feel that Russians or generally people living in Eastern Europe are not as chirpy, smiley, and happy as you might see in other countries, Russian slang is rich in positive expressions.
Крутой – Cool
If you insert the word into Google Translate, it will most likely translate it as steep, but in Russian slang, the word is used to express that something is cool.
У него крутая куртка!
He has a cool jacket.
Кайф – pleasure, fun, enjoyment, a high
Originating in Arabic, the word might sound a bit funny to you, but it means pleasure. It has been part of the Russian language, but it recently became popular again and is sometimes used interchangeably with the word круто.
Я получил кайф от музыки.
I got enjoyment from music.
Кайфовать – to have fun, to enjoy
Similar to the previous word, this one has the same root and means simply to have fun.
Мы будем сидеть на пляже и кайфовать.
We are going to sit on a beach and chill/enjoy.
Класс! – Great! Awesome!
This is a very common expression of approval, and you have definitely heard it. There are no rules when it can be used, so it fits pretty much any situation.
Я сдал мой екзамен. Класс!
I passed my exam. Great!
Здорово – great, awesome
Although the word can mean the same thing as класс, there is also a second meaning. It is an informal greeting if you pronounce the word with the stress on the second syllable. However, if you pronounce it with the stress at the beginning, it has the same meaning as класс.
Здорово! Great! Awesome!
Words to express frustration
It might not come as a surprise that more than describing the world in nice words, Russians have plenty of words to express their disappointment.
Блин – Dang, shoot, damn
My personal favorite is definitely блин since the word also means a pancake. It is used quite commonly as it is not really a swear word but still calms your nerves when you make a small mistake.
Блин, я забыла мою тетрадь.
Damn, I forgot my notebook.
Чёрт – shoot, dang it
As in the case of the previous word, there is a literal meaning of чёрт. Чёрт means the devil, but if you use it as slang, you comment on some minor inconvenience that happened in your life.
Чёрт на улице идёт дождь и у меня нет зонта!
Dang it, it’s raining outside, and I don’t have an umbrella.
Russian slang from English
Due to the internet and social media, English has been influencing Russia more intensely over the past years. Hence, some English words already found their way to interfere with the language, and more Russians use English words on a daily basis. But be careful; only some of the words keep their exact meanings, and they also do not adopt Russian grammar.
Хайп – hype
This word is equivalent to the English word hype, and its meaning is pretty much the same. With its popularity rising among English speakers, Russians also brought it to their slang.
There is huge hype.
Го – let’s go
You won’t hear this word in a professional setting, but it’s becoming increasingly common among young people. It simply means let’s go.
Hopefully, you will quickly add these to your vocabulary and will be one step closer to feeling like a native speaker!
This blog was brought to you by Anna, currently studying Russian at Liden and Denz in Riga
The image was taken from Pexels