Russian Proverbs and Sayings

A great way to improve your understanding of the Russian culture, people and history is to study Russian proverbs and sayings. Not only will you discover the words of wisdom accumulated by Russian folk since as early as the 12th century, but you will also increase your Russian vocabulary and catch on some rhymes used in proverbs. Russian proverbs, sayings and quotes will teach you many apt observations made by Russian people, translated from ancient written sources, and borrowed from literature works. Below is the alphabetical list of Russian proverbs and sayings along with their English equivalents and literal translations.

А Б В Г Д Е Ё Ж З И Й К Л M Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Ь Ы Ъ Э Ю Я

Russian proverbs: а-б                             1 of 15 | < Prev   Next >

- A -
А дело бывало -- и коза волка съедала.
                                              
Pigs might fly.
 Literal: It was happening -- a goat was eating up a wolf.
Аво́сь да как-нибу́дь до добра́ не доведу́т.Draw not your bow till your arrow is fixed.
 Literal: Maybe and somehow won't make any good.
Азбука -- к мудрости ступенька.You have to learn to walk before you can run.
 Literal: Alphabet is the step to wisdom.
Алты́нного во́ра ве́шают, а полти́нного че́ствуют.Little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape.
 Literal: The thief who stole an altyn (3 kopecks) is hung, and the one who stole a poltinnik (50 kopecks) is praised.
Аппети́т прихо́дит во вре́мя еды́.Appetite comes with eating.
 Literal: The appetite comes during eating.
Арте́льный горшо́к гу́ще кипи́т.With a helper a thousand things are possible.
 Literal: An artel's pot boils denser.
Ахал бы дядя, на себя глядя.The devil rebuking sin.
 Literal: The uncle would better gasp looking at himself.

- Б -
Ба́ба с во́зу -- кобы́ле ле́гче.
                                              
No women, no cry!
 Literal: It is easier for the mare when a woman gets off the cart.
Ба́бушка гада́ла, на́двое сказа́ла.No one can know for certain.
 Literal: Granny was telling fortunes, said two things.
Ба́бушка на́двое сказа́ла.No one can know for certain.
 Literal: Granny said two things.
Ба́ры деру́тся -- у холо́пов чубы́ треща́т.When the rich make war it's the poor that die.
 Literal: Masters are fighting, servants' forelocks are creaking.
Беда́ никогда́ не прихо́дит одна́.When it rains, it pours.
 Literal: Trouble never comes alone.
Бедному нужно многое, жадному -- всё.Poverty is in want of much, avarice of everything.
Бе́дному оде́ться -- то́лько подпоя́саться.Не that has no money needs no purse.
 Literal: For a poor man, to dress means to only belt himself.
Без кота́ мыша́м раздо́лье.When the cat is away, the mice will play.
 Literal: Without a cat mice feel free.
Без муки нет науки.Adversity is a good teacher.
 Literal: Without torture no science.
Без отдыха и конь не скачет.All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
 Literal: Without rest even the horse doesn't gallop.
Без труда́ не вы́тащишь и ры́бку из пруда́.No pain, no gain.
 Literal: Without effort, you can't even pull a fish out of the pond.
Безопасность прежде всего.Safety first.
Береги́ пла́тье сно́ву, а честь смо́лоду.Look after your clothes when they're spick and span, and after your honour when you're a young man.
Бережёного Бог бережёт.The Lord helps those who help themselves.
 Literal: God keeps those safe who keep themselves safe.
Бережливость хороша, да скупость страшна.Economy is a good servant but a bad master.
Бери́сь дру́жно, не бу́дет гру́зно.Many hands make light work
 Literal: Take hold of it together, it won't feel heavy.
Бе́шеной соба́ке семь вёрст не крюк.
 Literal: For a mad dog, seven versts (Russian mile) is not a long detour.
Близо́к локото́к, да не уку́сишь.So near and yet so far.
 Literal: Your elbow is close, yet you can't bite it.
Бог дал, Бог и взял.The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away
 Literal: God gave, God took back.
Бог не вы́даст, свинья́ не съест.
 Literal: God won't give it away, pigs won't eat it.
Бог плу́та ме́тит.
 Literal: God marks the crook.
Бог правду видит, да не скоро скажет.The mills of God grind slowly.
 Literal: God sees the truth, but won't tell soon.
Бог правду видит.There is One that is always on the lookout.
 Literal: God sees the truth.
Бог тро́ицу лю́бит.Third time is a charm.; Third time is a lucky.
 Literal: God likes trinity.
Бо́гу моли́сь, а добра́-ума́ держи́сь.Trust in God, but steer away from the rocks.
 Literal: Pray to God, but hold on to your good mind.
Бодли́вой коро́ве Бог рог не даёт.God does not give horns to cow that butts.
Болту́н -- нахо́дка для шпио́на.Loose lips sink big ships.
 Literal: A chatterbox is a treasure for a spy.
Болтуна язык до добра не доведёт.A fool's tongue runs before his feet.
 Literal: The tongue will bring the chatterer no good.
Больше слушай, меньше говори.Be swift to hear, slow to speak.
 Literal: Listen more, talk less.
Большой секрет -- знает весь свет.Every barber knows that. (badly-kept secret)
 Literal: Big secret -- all the world knows.
Большо́му кораблю́ -- большо́е пла́вание.A great ship needs deep waters.
 Literal: For a big ship, a big voyage.
Борода не делает философом.A beard doesn't make a philosopher.
Брань на во́роте не ви́снет.Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
 Literal: The scolding won't hang on one's collar.
Брань не дым -- глаза не ест.Hard words break no bones.
 Literal: The scolding is not smoke -- won't irritate your eyes.
Брюхо сыто, да глаза голодны.His eyes are bigger than his belly.
 Literal: The belly is full, but the eyes are hungry.
Бу́дет и на на́шей у́лице пра́здник.There will be our turn to triumph.
 Literal: There'll be a holiday in our street too.
Будь что будет.Be that as it may.
 Literal: Be what will be.
Бума́га всё сте́рпит.A letter does not blush (Epistula non erubescit -- Cicero, "Epistulae ad familiares")
 Literal: Paper will endure anything.
Была́ не была́.Whatever betide.
 Literal: There was -- there wasn't.
Быть в доме хозяином.To rule the roost.
 Literal: To be a host in the house.

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Index of Russian proverbs and sayings

  1. Russian proverbs and sayings: а-б
  2. Russian proverbs and sayings: в
  3. Russian proverbs and sayings: г
  4. Russian proverbs and sayings: д
  5. Russian proverbs and sayings: е-з
  6. Russian proverbs and sayings: и-к
  7. Russian proverbs and sayings: л-м
  8. Russian proverbs and sayings: н
  9. Russian proverbs and sayings: о
  10. Russian proverbs and sayings: п
  11. Russian proverbs and sayings: р-с
  12. Russian proverbs and sayings: т-у
  13. Russian proverbs and sayings: ф-х
  14. Russian proverbs and sayings: ц-ч
  15. Russian proverbs and sayings: ш-я

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