TOP-5 Curious Russian Phrases

  • Лезть на рожон 

Meaning: to go towards smb/smth beyond all rationality realizing you’re likely to have lots of trouble afterwards; to do everything possible to get the desired result…

Origin: “Рожон” in the old Russian language (and nowadays in some regional dialects) is a pointed stick. When brave men hunted a bear and approached it they kept the stick in front of them. If the bear impaled itself upon that sharp stick, it died.

  • Попасть впросак

Meaning: to end up in an uncomfortable and disadvantageous situation because of ignorance or mistake

Origin: “Просак” is a spinning machine which people used in the old times to give a twist to a rope. If hair, beard or clothes got into the spinning machine of course there followed unpleasant consequences. 😦

  • Пускать пыль в глаза 

Meaning: to give the wrong impression about personal capabilities

Origin: This phrase comes from the fact that during first flight dishonest fighters took small bags with sand which they threw in the eyes of the competitors. In 1726 this  was forbidden by special decree.

  • Орать на всю Ивановскую 

Meaning: to shout very loudly

Origin: “Ивановская” (Ivanovskaya) is the name of the street where Ivan the Great Bell Tower is situated (It’s on the Kremlin territory). In the XVII century this street was a plaсe where 1) royal decrees were announced loudly; 2) sometimes clerks were penalized here – they were mercilessly beaten with whips, that’s why they shouted.

  • Перемывать кости 

Meaning: to discuss someone else in his absence

Origin: The term dates back to the forgotten ritual of reburial: three years after the death the deceased was removed from the grave, then people cleaned the bones and re-buried. This action was accompanied by the memories of the dead, the assessment of his character, deeds and actions.

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