In soviet Russia, curses swear you!

I’m writing and I have a character raised in 1970s-80s Moscow, a very ‘good’ and ideologically proper citizen who worked for the government.

How would such a person swear when frustrated or swear at people? Phonetically-spelled Russian phrases are useful, as are english translations. I know that probably most religious-based cursing would be out, so a heartfelt ‘motherfucker’ seems more likely than ‘Fucking Christ’ but I’d rather get it right than to assume.

This person is not a nice person, and is totally ok with being quite crude and violent in words and in actions, so even really vile or dirty swears could be useful. I’d like to know if they are awful tho, so I use them in proper contexts.


There’s a pretty good scene in the movie *Patton *where Patton is meeting a Russian general, and Patton calls the Russian a son of a bitch. The very nervous translator relays this to the general as something that sounds to me like “sue kun sin”. I once tried this phrase out on a Russian I went to college with. He got a laugh out of it and said my pronunciation was not bad. He also told me the Russian equivalent of “fuck you”, which IIRC (this was in the early 90s) sounded something like “basholl knock we”.

I’m sure none of that is very helpful, but it’s the best I can do.

Aw man, I used to have a book of Russian swears, but I think it’s somewhere up in my attic – I could look for it tomorrow if you really need it? (Especially since I need to go up there and get my fan down for the summer)

I mean… I don’t neeeeed it, but I’m awfully curious now. That sounds like an awesome reference book. Absolutely no hurry at all, but yeah, if you run across it while fan-hunting, share the wealth?

Russian is one of those languages which probably does need a book to explain to the art of multi-layered curse and swear construction. A simple lexicon may not do it justice.

here is a link with many colorful phrases: Все заебало! Пиздец на хуй блядь! / иди в пизду, бля, мудак / etc (obviously some of these words are pretty popular for general swearing…)

May I just say that ‘motherfucker’ is uniquely American. I know of no other country that uses this expression in everyday language, and I am sure that many people would find it pretty offensive.

This is true for many common ‘sweary’ words; in the UK ‘bugger’ is pretty inoffensive, but an American acquaintance was quite shocked when I used it at the dinner table.

Huh. I had exactly the opposite experience. “Bugger” means next to nothing in my dialect of American English, but a British friend was a bit surprised when I used it in front of his kids (myself not knowing the derivation of the word, or even what “buggery” was.) " I’m really curious what dialect group those Americans were from, as I don’t know it to be an American word, much less to cause any offense or surprise. ETA: Wait, sorry. No, I remember now. We do say something like “oh, you little bugger, you!” or “come here, you little bugger!” which means something like “little bug/creature” not “wee sodomizer.” That’s the sense I was using it in, and that’s what shocked the heck out of the UK person for whom it meant something different.

Hmm…actually, looking it up, it seems “bugger” can also be used in an affectionate way to talk about kids, too, in the UK. So I must have used it in a different way in front of his kids, as I do remember getting a quick lesson about how the word is a swear word in British English.

Russians do say “ёб твою мать”, in which at least someone is fucking someone’s mother.

In Polish, there is the word “matkojebca” that literally means “motherfucker,” as well. It’s not that common, though (at least in my experience.) More common is “skurwysyn,” which translates into “son from a whore.” (Looking it up and researching it, it might actually be influenced by the English/American “motherfucker” and is just a literal translation. I’ve never heard my folks use it, but I have heard pretty much all the other ones.)

Did the Russkis still say “Nyekulturny!” in the 80s?

I saw this video of a Russian fisherman with his hand caught in a monkfish. In the “Animal Planet” version I saw, he cursed a number of times, which was bleeped out in the translation. Maybe someone can pick some out of it.

Thanks everyone - the sweaty dictionary was super interesting.

If anyone else has anything they want to throw in, please feel free.

At the very least there is a lot of “блядь!”, “сука !”, and “твою мать!” :slight_smile: Understandable under the circumstances…

ETA according to the intro to that dictionary, the “main words” in Russian profanity are блядь, ебать, пизда, and хуй, but of course there is infinite room for creativity.

I have a guilty weakness for Russian dashcam videos. About 80% of them seem to include the word “blyat” (блять), usually in combination, as “suka blyat” (сука блять). I often heard something like “voyu mat” as well, but until DPRK’s post I didn’t know I was hearing “твою мать”! seems the best, certainly for current, but tread carefully for time period use, as per OP.

The best would be absolutely specific Soviet-era Soviet-based curses/dirty tag lines. Off hand, if you know any Israelis, network around and you’ll find a goldmine of info from the immigrants. And of course the US Brighton Beach, etc., enclaves. But the huge wave that came to Israel in the 70s and 80s were pure ex-Soviet.

Wiki has a page precisely on that: Mat (profanity) - Wikipedia

Also this seems current: 244 Russian Swear Words, Phrases, Curses, Slang, Insults & Expletives! | The Travel Tart

Thank, Leo - those are great. Especially the info about the ex-pats in Israel. I’m really trying to go for the 20-year-back straight up soviet influences, so I appreciate that.

A Cultural Analysis Of The Russo-Soviet Anekdot
MA thesis, knock yourself out. Good for character analysis and has on topic examples and popular media scene (of course Soviet controlled) as background.

[Forgive my intrusion, but make sure you give him a credit in your published novel if you find it useful.]