A Guide to Common Russian Insults
On a lovely morning not long ago, I skipped across my courtyard to my car and discovered a note on the windshield. The note began Урод! (Freak!) and continued — with to my mind an excessive use of exclamation points and non-normative lexicon — to impart the writer's overall poor impression of my mental abilities and moral standards. My crime? I parked my car wrong. Since I parked it like everyone else, not blocking any cars or impeding traffic, I chalked this up to весеннее обострение (spring freak out), tossed the note and went on my merry way.
But later someone asked me: Why урод? Why not another derogatory term? And I realized that what the world really needs is a guide to common Russian insults, nasty names and slangy curses.
Well, that and a new world economic order.
But since I can't do much about the latter, at least I can come up with a good list of names to call those @(*#&$(@#* who are flushing the world's economy down the toilet.
Урод is a fine word to start with. An offshoot of the verb родить (to give birth), its primary meaning is a person with some physical or mental deformity or impairment. You can hear this meaning in the expression в семье не без урода (there's a black sheep in every family). In literary language you may come across моральный урод — a moral moron, a person whose moral sense is deformed or nonexistent.
In colloquial Russian, урод can mean a very ugly person — unattractive to the point of deformity: К уродам относятся супермодели — люди, на которых без слёз совершенно невозможно смотреть. (Super models are a freak show — people you can't even look at without weeping.) Or it can mean someone who is a complete imbecile, a freak of nature. That's apparently what I was in my courtyard — a jerk too dumb to park her car right.
Moving right along, we come to ублюдок, a word connected with a different accident of birth. The first meaning, now archaic, is a mutt — a mixed-breed animal. У него была собака, кажется ублюдок из породы бульдогов. (He had a dog — I think it was a bulldog mix.) That led to a second, less proper meaning — an illegitimate child. In time that morphed to mean a real bastard — a base, cruel person with animal instincts.
This is the word to reach for when you see kids tormenting an animal or a gazillionaire CEO cutting worker benefits with one hand as he pockets an obscenely large bonus with the other. В чём разница между адвокатом и свиньей? Первое — это безмозглый, уродливый, гнусный ублюдок. А второе — всего лишь домашнее животное. (What's the difference between a lawyer and a pig? The former is a brainless, disgusting, obnoxious bastard. The latter is just a barnyard animal.)
If someone is truly a disgusting monster, you can call him a выродок — but, for your own safety, say it behind his back and very quietly. Выродок is a degenerate — the kind of creature a mother animal abandons because she knows he'll grow into something abnormal and monstrous. Они вели себя как волки в овчарне, эти выродки, отбросы общества. (They behaved like wolves in a sheep pen, those monsters — the dregs of society.)
Examples? Alas, just read the daily headlines anywhere in the world.
Paul Manafort and the Red Thread Running Through the Long Ukrainian Revolution
18 hours ago
Three years on from the shooting of protesters in Kiev, geopolitical scores are far from settled.
Russia Celebrates Defender of the Fatherland Day
1 day agoRussian Propaganda ‘Vindicated’: Taxpayers Lost $20 Million, Not $50 Million, in Creation of RT France