Top Ten Russian Idioms

1. Russians don’t exaggerate, they

“make an elephant out of a fly.”

(delat iz muhi slona)


Americans are always,

“making mountains out of mole hills”

2. A Russian won’t lie to you,

he’ll “hang noodles on your ears.”

(veshat laphu na ushi

I'm not pulling your leg

Americans on the other hand will tell you

“I’m not pulling your leg”!

3. A Russian doesn’t get overexcited, he

“jumps out of his pants.”

(vyprygnut iz shtanov)


An American will say,

“He has ants in his pants”

4. Russians don’t drink alcohol, they

“put it behind the collar.”

(zalozhit za vorotnik)


Americans  don’t bother they just put it

“down the hatch”

(down the throat and into the belly)

5. A Russian doesn’t say he’s in a crowded place,

he says he’s “like herring in the barrel.”

(kak seledka v bochke)


Americans will say,

“Look we are packed like a can of sardines”

6. Russians don’t say you have an interesting

aspect to your character, they say you have a




Americans trying to be kind would say,

“Oh, your just a diamond in the rough”

7. Russians don’t just study, they

“crunch the granite of science.”

(gryzt granit nauki)


On the other hand Americans will claim

“they are burning the candle at both ends”

8. Russians don’t have a snack, they

“kill the worm.”

(zamorit cherviachka)

eating-three-will-ferrell- (1)

Snacking in America is called,

“Stuffing your face”

9. A Russian doesn’t have a lot of experience in something,

he “has eaten a dog in that.”

(sobaku siel)


An American might say,

“That sounds like a bunch of sour grapes to me”

10. A Russian isn’t clumsy, he is

“an elephant in a China shop.”

(slon v posudnoi lavke)

Chin Shop Elephant Full

And we all know if you ask an American he’ll say,

“Like a Bull in a China shop”


15 thoughts on “Top Ten Russian Idioms

  1. Steeve, you forgot one pretty common: “Kak baran v apteke” – opposite meaning to dog eaters. 🙂

    1. This is a new one, I know kak is “how” the rest I’m not sure of, v means “in”, but baran and apteke are new to me. Checked google it says “baran is monitor, can’t get apteke to translate.

      1. Literally trans. and meaning: as “smart\useful” as “As a ram in a pharmacy” -“Kak baran v apteke” 🙂

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