What Not to Say in Russia

basic russian Oct 25, 2020

If you've studied language before, then you are probably familiar with the term "cognate". A cognate is a word that sounds the same in two different languages and also has the same meaning. An example of a Russian cognate with English is телефон, which means telephone.

There are also things called "false cognates". False cognates are words that sound the same, but have different meanings (and that makes them confusing). Our list of 13 confusing Russian words is full of Russian false cognates. So, make sure you know what these words really mean to avoid a lot of confusion and misunderstanding.

13 Confusing Russian Words


1. Смелый

Sounds like: "Smelly"

Means: Brave


2. Факт

Sounds like: "Fucked"

Means: Fact


3. Пьяно

Sounds like: "Piano"

Means: Drunk


4. Нормально

Sounds like: "Normal"

Means: OK


5. Банда

Sounds like: "Band"

Means: Gang (but it also sometimes used about a band of musicians)


6. Фабрика

Sounds like: "Fabric"

Means: Factory


7. Инсульт

Sounds like: "Insult"

Means: Stroke (paralyzation of a body part)


8. Хуй

Sounds like: "Hooey"

Means: Dick


9. Климакс

Sounds like: "Climax"

Means: Menopause


10. Кабинет

Sounds like: "Cabinet"

Means: Office or Study (or a group of governmental officials)


11. Аккуратно

Sounds like: "Accurate"

Means: Carefully


12. Пароль

Sounds like: "Parole"

Means: Password


13. Марш

Sounds like: "Marsh"

Means: March (a special way of walking, for example how soldiers walk)


If you learn the meanings of these Russian words, then you're less likely to get confused or be subject to serious misunderstandings. So, try to remember them!

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