Mat! The BBC Guide to Russian Swearing
Tim the Russian
Most don’t realize that Russians swear – a lot. Mat, pronounced “Mah-t”, is Russian profanity. It’s deeply embedded in culture and language, and many Russian folks don’t even realize they are using it (Putin, most famously). It’s not something you will notice in press or books, but if you are hanging out at a Moscow or Barnaul bar, mat will be used in just about every sentence.
Interestingly, English is my third language, and I still swear like a sailor (or a Russian). A few weeks ago I had an issue with an ill-fitting garment from Tactical Gap. I called customer service and told them about the issue. About a day later word got back to me that the customer service rep was extremely offended because this Russian cursed him out on the phone. Sorry guy. Nothing to do with you, it’s just how we talk (then again, it may be the San Fransisco liberalism getting to you. Don’t be a pizda).
Speaking of pizda, Russian swearing is really centered around just a few foundational words. Unfortunately, we don’t have super-words like “fuck.” My friend David M’s favorite quote, “Fuck you you fucking fucks,” is simply impossible to say in Russian. That said, the following will get you proficient enough to fit in very well. (Put your earmuffs on. Or if you work at Tactical Gap and this offends you, please stop reading now.)
Speaking of yebanaya, it’s a form of yebat. Yebat is loosely translated as “fuck,” but is changed quite a bit based on the sentence structure and application. Here are a few most common phrases:
- “Yeb tvo-you maht” – Direct translation, “fuck your mother”. Pay attention now: it is not used as an offense to anyone’s mother (ever). This is most commonly used to describe somebody’s pleasure or excitement. For example, when you observe a mini-gun tracer burst at 4000 rounds per minute you might yell, “Yeb tvo-you maht!”, which means, “High fives! Life is great!”
- Yebani – “Fucking,” descriptive only. Yebani gun bunnies = those fucking gun bunnies, not “to fuck gun bunnies.”
- Yebat – to fuck. Same example as above. Yebat gun bunny = “to fuck a gun bunny.”
Khui (aka Hui or Khuy) – Direct translation: cock or dick. Similar application as English. Yebani Khui = Fucking Dick. Important note, the following use of this word can get your ass in trouble: “Idi na Khui” literally translated is “go sit on a dick”. It is the closest you can get to “fuck you.” Do not use this phrase in direction of people you don’t know, the result might be a head punch, or a bullet. No, I am not kidding. At the same time, the phrase is perfectly okay to use with friends, and is actually encouraged.
- Na Khui – few meanings, but the most used would be “fuck it.”
Blyad. Probably the most challenging to explain. Although in direct translation it means whore, it’s never used in the same way “whore” is used in English. I think the best way to explain this word is as a means to colorize a negative experience. Ammunition mis-feed. Dropping a phone in a toilet. In English it’s “fuck”. In Russian it’s “blyad”.
Suka – bitch. Same as English. Mudak – “retarded asshole” is probably the best translation. No direct equivalent in English. Govno – shit. Rarely used the same way Americans use “shit.” Mostly used for the exact meaning. “Nastupil v Govno” means “stepped in shit.” There you have it. Now you should be proficient enough to have a very meaningful conversation over a bottle of Vodka, covering virtually every topic in existence. “Podnyali stakani , na zdorovie!”, which means, “lift the glasses, to your health!”
If you require a personal lesson in Russian profanity, please consider our dear friends at Paladin. They are the most proficient users of Russian mat outside of Barnaul. Here is a link to much more comprehensive editorial on Russian mat
And of course please feel free to pester myself via comms or in person. Vsevo vam horoshevo, tovarishi. -Timur
Comms Plan Primary: Subscribe to our newsletter here, get the RSS feed and support us on Patreon right here. Alternate: Join us on Facebook here or check us out on Instagram here. Contingency: Exercise your inner perv with us on Tumblr here, follow us on Twitter here or connect on Google + here. Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you. Swinging Dick Approved. About the Author: Timur Aleksandrovich is former taiga-frolicking proud bacon- and big-dog-loving American who ain’t from around these parts. We can’t tell you where he comes from, but we can say he grew up wearing a fuzzy hat, loves vodka (which he pronounces WODka) and never does anything without a plan. Though his profession has nothing to do with anything tactically sexy (that we’re gonna tell you about), Tim knows his way around guns and gear. Luckily he made so much money in the 90s selling off Sukhoi Su-47s, souped up BTR-90s and that one cherry MD-160 Ekranoplan to Jacobim Mugatu he can still afford all kinds of cool toys. Timka is an extraordinarily proficient shooter and prefers timepieces that weigh as much as a small child. He is evil genius smart, retard strong and easygoing as an Amish guy stoned on Sunday. You may have read about him in a couple things written by Tolstoy and Mikhail Sholokhov (or maybe it was Pasternak, we can never remember). We hang around with him not so much because we like him but because he sounds like Col. Strelnikov when he talks, and because he lets his Great Danes wear shemaghs. We’re still holding out hope he’ll someday show up to the range with an original 1983 Jatimatic 9x19mm SMG and lots of ammo. A desultory meteorologist and member in good standing of our “Everyman Tactical” element, Tim is a graduate of Grosse Pointe High School and is a Martin Blank cynicist in good standing. Most of this we’re just making up of course, but he really does look good in those shaggy hats and he really is gay for watches and knives. If you’re the stalking sort you can creep on him by watching him on the live webcam he has in his outhouse on the steppe right here. Grunts: desultory.