Top 20 Russian Idioms, Proverbs & Sayings. Part 2.

RussianNEW42Hello Junkies!

What’s Russian learning without some awesome proverbs and sayings? Knowing these will add to your Russian range of expression so that you can speak more and express yourself better.

Read part 1 here.

In this part 2, I’m covering the next 10 Russian proverbs and provide English translations and explanations so you know when and how to use them.

Hey, if you REALLY want to learn & speak Russian, I suggest RussianPod101. You get 1,000+ audio/video courses, lessons by Russian teachers and a whole learning system. Sign up at RussianPod101 (click here) and start learning! I recommend ’em as a teacher & learner.

11. “It doesn’t hurt to ask” in Russian

  • За спрос не бьют в нос.
  • English pronunciation: Za spros ne byut v nos.
  • Literal meaning: You won’t get hit in the nose for asking.

Got a question? Ask it! “Will you go out with me?” “Can you give me a discount?” “Can you give me an A in this class?” What’s the worst that could happen? Certainly not a punch in the nose, and if that does happen, you can press charges!


  • спрос – spros – question
  • бить – bit’ – to beat/hit
  • нос – nos – nose


12. “Wishing will do nothing” in Russian

  • Хотеть не вредно.
  • English pronunciation: Hotet’ ne vredno.
  • Literal meaning: It’s not bad to want.

Oh, you want a new car? Well, wishing isn’t bad. It’s a bit of a dark, sarcastic proverb used to shut your desires down and insinuates “wishing isn’t bad but you’re not going to get it.” It’s what parents use on their kids when the kids want something.

“Oh, little Vladimir, you want a toy? Well, hotet’ ne vredno… (you’re not getting it, ha!)”

By the way, this is a great response when someone says they want you to do something.


  • Хотеть – hotet’ – to want
  • вредно – vredno – harmful


13. “Repetition is the mother of learning” in Russian.

  • Повторе́ние – мать уче́нья.
  • English pronunciation: Povtoreniya – mat’ ucheniya.
  • Meaning: Repetition is the mother of learning.

Well, how do you expect to remember Russian? Here’s the biggest success secret to mastering Russian no-one wants to tell you! You do it repeatedly. Consistently. Over a long period of time. Repeat those verbs! Memorize that vocab! Keep repeating your exercises… and you’ll get it. Oh, yeah, we all know that secret… except most of us don’t follow through! ^_^


  • Повторе́ние – Povtoreniye – Repetition
  • Mать – Mat’ – Mother
  • уче́нья – ucheniya – learning.


14. “To a drunk, the sea is only knee deep”

  • Пья́ному мо́ре по коле́но.
  • English pronunciation: Pyanomu more po koleno.
  • Meaning: To a drunk, the sea is only knee deep.

What’s a Russian proverb article if there isn’t a mention of alcohol. Well, here you go. Basically, this means a drunk will underestimate and put themselves in a really bad situation. As in they thought the sea was knee-deep but it’s actually very, very, deep.


  • пьяный – pynaniy – drunk (adjective & noun – person)
  • мо́ре – more – sea
  • koleno – koleno – knee


15. “You’ll live” in Russian

  • До сва́дьбы заживёт.
  • English pronunciation: Do svadbi zazhivyot.
  • Literal meaning: It’ll heal before your wedding.

This idiom is used for cuts, bruises and other petty things that kids will cry about. Parents say this, because, you know, for kids – a wedding is still very much far off. Unless you’re arranged to be married at the age of 10, then that just sucks.


  • свадьба – svad’ba – wedding
  • зажить – zazhit – to heal


16. “A wolf’s legs will feed him.”

  • Во́лка но́ги ко́рмят.
  • English pronunciation: Volka nogi kormyat.
  • Meaning: A wolf’s legs feed him.

Well, food obviously won’t stand up and walk right into your mouth. Well, maybe in the 21st century, you can pay someone to feed you, but the point stands. Food doesn’t come to the wolf. The wolf must chase it. Hence, his feet will feed him. In other words, you need to put in effort… (into learning Russian!)

  • Во́лк – Volk  – Wolf
  • но́ги – nogi – feet/legs
  • кормить – kormit’ – to feed


17. “Time heals all wounds” in Russian

  • Вре́мя – лу́чший до́ктор.
  • English pronunciation: Vremya – lutshiy doktor.
  • Literal meaning: Time is the best doctor.

Well, in this case, time is a doctor. But the concept is the same. Time is the best doctor and it heals all wounds. Feel free to share it on Facebook when you’re feeling down and let ’em all know!


  • Вре́мя – Vremya – Time
  • лу́чший – lutshiy – best
  • до́ктор – doktor – doctor


18. “Everything genius is simple.”

  • Всё гениальное просто.
  • English pronunciation: Vsyo genial’noye prosto.
  • Everything genius is simple.

It’s what Apple strives for. It’s what designers strive for. And simplicity is the best way to be easily understood and accepted. The problem is, we all think too deeply into things and over-complicate it all. So stop thinking Russian is hard, create some simple learning routines and stick to them.

  • Всё- Vsyo – Everything
  • гениальное – genial’noye – genius
  • просто – prosto – simple


19. “To each, his own” in Russian

  • О вку́сах не спо́рят.
  • English pronunciation: O vkusah ne sporyat.
  • Literal meaning: Taste isn’t argued over.

It’s a bit of a pointless argument if you ask me. To each, his own.


  • вку́с – vkus – taste
  • спорить – sporit’ – to argue


20. “Adversity builds character” in Russian

  • Без муки нет науки.
  • English pronunciation: Bez muki net nauki.
  • Literal meaning: Without torture no science.

In order to gain understanding and wisdom, one must endure adversity. Or in this case, without struggle or torture, there’s no science. Struggle and sweat a bit with your Russian, you’ll learn faster.

  • Без – bez – without
  • мука – muka – suffering, tormet
  • наука – nauka – science, knowledge,


What do you think?

Read part 3 here.

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