Russian Vocabulary and Phrases

Some useful vocabulary words and phrases for your ELP – 

  • Russian Phrases
  • List of Mammals, Birds, Plants, Insects & Arthropods, Marine Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians, Flowers & Shrubs, Mushrooms, Trees, Marine Invertebrates, Sea Birds, Trees, and Marine Plants
  • Bibliography/Reference Material
  • The Vegetable Bibliography
  • Resources we often use
  • Storyteller for classroom or onsite visits

Russian Phrases

The symbol [‘] denotes stress on that syllable. Knowing where stress should lie makes words much easier to pronounce.

[u] = “oo” sound as in boot               [i] = ‘ee’  sound as in see

[ai] = “i” as in “hi”                              [ui] = as in weed (or French “pfui”)

[“]  = “softens” preceding consonant. It helps to smile as you pronounce it.

English                                               Transliteration

Hello                                                 Zdravstvuitye

Hi                                                      Preevyet

Goodbye                                           Dosvedanya

Good morning                                  Dobroe Utro

Good afternoon                                Dobryi Den’

Good evening                                   Dobryi Vecher

Thank you                                        Spaseebo

You’re Welcome                              Pozhaluysta

How are you?                                   Kak dela

Good                                                Horosho

May I?                                               Mozhno

I am from California.                        Ya iz Kalifo’rnii

Yes, No                                            Da, Nyet

This, This is                                     Eto

Peace                                                 Mir

Friendship                                        Dru’zba

My friend                                           Moi drug (male), Moya podruga (female)

Happy Birthday!                               S dn’om rozhdenia

Bless You!                                       Bud” zdorov

One, two, three, four                        adin, dva, tri, chetyre

five, six, seven                                 pyat”, shyest”, syehm”

eight, nine, ten                                  vosyem”, dyehvyat”, dyehsyat”

mature woman/grandmother    babushka

mouse                                          myshka

pen                                               rooch” ka

ear                                                  ukho

Pancakes        blee nee”

Soup with beets borscht

Potatoes      kar toshka

Milk              moloko

Rice             ris

Soup: cabbage, potatoes, meat      shchee

Water         voda

Breakfast           zavtrak

Lunch          obyed

Evening meal oozhen

Rice             ris

Soup             soup  (sounds the same)

Coffee         kof ye

Milk             moloko

Wine              veeno

Beer            peevo

Salt          sol’

Pepper            peryets

Sugar          sakhar k is soft sound   

Sandwich           booter brod (from German butter on bread)

Bread         hleb

Meat           myaso

Fish            ryba

Juice       sok

Tea             chai   i is a long sound

Cake           tort

Phrases by situation:

Very Pleased                                 Ochen’ Priyatno

Thank you very much                     Bol’shoe Spasibo

I don’t understand                           Yan ne pohnima’yu


To peace!                                       Zah mi’r!

To health!                                        Na zdorovi’e

To peace and friendship!              Zah mi’r i dru’zhbu

Live in Peace and Harmony         Budem Zhit’ Mirno


Key Question words

Where?                                            Gdye?

What?                                              Chto?

Who?                                               Kto



I am an American.                          Ya amerikanyets.

And I am a Russian.                       A ya russkii.

What is your name?                       Kak vass zohvut”?

My name is Mary.                          Myenya zohvut Meri.

This is my friend, John.                  Eto moi drug, John.

Please come                                  Poidy’mtye pozhaluista

We’ll shoot the cannon                  M’ui vuist’relim iz pu’shki.

This is a Charleyville musket         Eto mushk’et Charlivill

That is a cannon                             Eto poos’hka

The Russians lived here                Zdy’yes” zhi’li ‘russkiye

for thirty years                         tri’dtsat” ly’et.

Here they hunted                            Zdy’es oni okh’otilis”

sea otters                               na morsku’u vydru (sea otter – morkaya vydra)

I came here from Alaska                Ya priehal suda iz Aly’aski

What’s for dinner?                          Shto na u’zhin?

When do we eat?                           Kogda my budem est’?


Albion, New Albion – Term used by Russians to refer to Northern California.

Americans – When used by Russians, refers to American natives.

Arroba – Spanish measure, equivalent to 1/4 quintal, 25.3 pounds.

Artel’ – Russian. A party of men organized under a leader on cooperative lines for work, hunting, harvesting, fishing, etc.

Arshin – Russian linear measure: 28 inches

Babushka – mature woman or grandmother

Baidara – A large boat

Baidarka – A kayak. Smaller than a baidara, enclosed, with open hatches for one, two or three persons. The Russian American Company  generally used the two-hatch baidarka for hunting, and the three-hatch for transport and exploration. Both are very light and maneuverable craft, easily righted if overturned, propelled with paddles .

Baidarshchik – Has various meanings: baidara construction supervisors, baidara crew overseer, baidara crew, steersman or owner.

Borscht – soup with beets

Charka – Glassful, cupful. 10 charka = 2.16 pints.

Chernozem – Black soil.

Chervonets – Russian currency; a 10-ruble banknote or gold piece.

Chetvert’ – Russian measure for dry goods; one chetvert of wheat equalled 49 pounds.

Chief Manager – In Russian, glavnyi pravitel’.

Condorina – Spanish; small gold coin.

Creole – Term used by Russians to refer to a person of mixed Russian and native blood. They were often educated, trained and employed by the Russian American Company in various capacities.

Doroga – road

Desiatina – Russian land measure: 2.7 acres.

Fanega – Spanish grain measure: 0.9 pound; .41 kilogram.

Funt – Russian measure; 0.9 pound; .41 kilogram.

Governing Board – In Russian, glavnoe pravlenie.

Iukola – Siberian term for dried fish, generally salmon, used as a staple in the diet.

Kaiur – A native worker hired or drafted for service by the Russians.

Kalga – Kolosh (Tlingit) term for slave.

Kamleika – A circular waterproof garment made of cured sea mammal gut. Worn in cold or rainy weather, and when hunting at sea. Worn alone or over other garments.

Kartoshka – potatoes

Kazhim – Communal living quarters; men’s barracks for Aleuts, Eskimos or Indians.

Kekur – Siberian term for a cliff or headland jutting out into the sea; in Alaska, a perpendicular cliff just off shore.

Kolosh – Russian term for Tlingit Indians.

Kopeika – 1/100 ruble; about 1/2 cent U.S. in 19th century.

Kot – (with a long ‘o’) Male cat

Koshka – Female cat

Lavtak – Cured and processed seal or walrus hide, used to make baidaras and baidarkas.

Mololo – Milk

Marki – Russian colonial currency, scrip.

Mednovtsi – Russian term for Copper River Indians.

Morskaya Vydra – Sea Otter.

Office Administrator – In Russian, pravitel kontory.

P.A.K. – Rossiisko-Amerikanskaia Komoaniia (Russian American Company) R.A.C.)

Phratry – Clan divisions, also the animal or other sign under which such a clan is recognized, such as wolf phrarty, raven phrarty, etc. Here applied to Kolosh.

Platok – cloth worn on a woman’s head, tied under the chin

Prikashchik – In medieval Russian, Muscovy and later in Siberia, an official of the prikaz, i.e., administrative department. In Alaska, a special agent employed by the Russian American Company, or the supercargo on a ship.

Promyshlennik – Russian term for fur trapper and trader, especially in Siberia and subsequently in Russia’s American colonies.

Pud – Russian measure of weight: 36.11 pounds; 16.38 kilograms.

Quintal – Spanish measure: four arrobas, 101.2 pounds.

R.A.K. – Rossiiski-Amerikanskaia Kompaniia.

Real – Spanish coin, silver.

Reaumur thermometer – A thermometer used in the 18th century; 80 degrees indicates the freezing point of water and 80 degrees the boiling point.

Rovduga – Siberian term for a reindeer hide used for barter. See zamshcha.

Ruble – Russian coin or banknote. In the early 19th century, one ruble equalled U.S. $.50.

Santim – Centime.

Sarana – The Kamchatka lily bulb, used for food.

Sazhen – Russian linear measure: 7 feet; 2.13 meters.

Shchee – a soup made of cabbage, potatoes, and meat.

Sitka – In the context of this book, refers to the island then known as Sitka, presently named Baranov Island.

Toion – A Yakut word meaning “leader.” The Russians applied the term to Siberian tribal elders of large Koriak, Chukchee and Kamchadal tribes, and similarly to Aleuts and American Indians. The word is not native to any of these peoples.

Tolkushka – Food prepared by natives of Siberia and Alaska consisting of dried meat or fish, fat and dried berries or roots; pemmican.

Voda – water

Vara – Spanish measure: 33 inches.

Vedro – Russian liquid or grain measure

Vershok – Russian measure: 1.75 inches.

Zima – winter