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Funny Russian Idioms and Their Meanings

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Learning a new language can often be as fun as it is challenging, especially when it comes to idioms. Idioms are phrases where the meaning cannot be inferred from the literal definitions of the words it contains. The Russian language, rich in history and culture, has its own collection of idioms, some of which are quite humorous when translated directly into English. Here are some quirky Russian idioms along with their meanings and sample sentences.

Вешать лапшу на уши (veshat’ lapshu na ushi)
Literally translating to “hang noodles on one’s ears,” this idiom means to deceive someone or to tell lies. It’s similar to pulling someone’s leg in English.
Когда он начал вешать лапшу на уши о своём богатстве, я сразу понял, что это неправда.

Глаза разбегаются (glaza razbegayutsya)
This colorful expression means “eyes run in different directions,” and is used to describe a situation where there are too many appealing options, and it’s hard to choose just one. Similar to the English “spoilt for choice.”
Когда я вошла в пекарню, глаза разбегались от количества вкусных пирожных.

Запретный плод сладок (zapretnyy plod sladok)
Directly translated as “forbidden fruit is sweet,” this proverb carries the same meaning as its English counterpart, which is used to express that prohibited things often seem especially tempting.
Все знают, что запретный плод сладок, поэтому о тайных отношениях всегда так много сплетен.

Не все дома (ne vse doma)
When someone jokes that “not everyone is at home,” they mean that a person is not very smart or is out of their mind. It’s akin to the English idiom “not playing with a full deck.”
Когда он начал разговаривать с котом, я задумался, не все ли дома у него.

Лезть на стенку (lezt’ na stenku)
This phrase means “to climb the wall” and describes someone who is extremely irritated or frustrated, much like the English phrase “to climb the walls.”
Каждый раз, когда мы опаздываем на поезд, моя сестра начинает лезть на стенку.

Иметь медвежью услугу (imet’ medvezh’yu uslugu)
To “have a bear service” might sound odd, but in Russian, it means to do a disservice, despite trying to help.
Я попытался починить телефон, но оказал им медвежью услугу, и теперь он вообще не работает.

Яблоко раздора (yabloko razdora)
Literally meaning “the apple of discord,” this idiom refers to a cause of argument or strife between people. It is comparable to the “bone of contention” in English.
Вопрос о финансировании стал яблоком раздора для всей семьи.

Each of these Russian idioms adds color and depth to the language, illustrating how cultural nuances shape the way we communicate. For learners of Russian, understanding and using these phrases can be a delightful way to engage with the language and appear more fluent to native speakers. Plus, it provides a good laugh or two along the way. So next time you’re practicing Russian, try tossing a few of these expressions into conversation and see where they take you!

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