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95 Core Concepts in Russian

What are the most basic, elementary, core concepts that virtually all languages express? Many linguists have put a great deal of effort into answering this question, and several short word lists have come out of it. The most famous are probably the Swadesh lists, based mostly on intuition and refined over time. Later lists like the Leipzig-Jakarta have used more stringent methods to determine which vocabulary items are most resistant to borrowing and change over time.

What I've done here is taken five such word lists (Swadesh 100, Ranked Swadesh 40, Swadesh-Yakhontov, Leipzig-Jakarta, and Woodward) and kept only the items that occur in at least two of the lists. Here is the Russian version. Enjoy!

1) name = имя
2) water = вода
3) blood = кровь
4) fire = огонь
5) stone/rock = камень
6) dog = собака
7) fish = рыба
8) louse/flea = вошь, блоха
9) hand/arm = рука
10) eye = глаз
11) ear = ухо
12) nose = нос
13) tongue = язык
14) tooth = зуб
15) bone = кость
16) horn = рог
17) tail = хвост
18) egg = яйцо
19) leaf = лист
20) night/evening = ночь, вечер
21) star = звезда
22) sun = солнце
23) moon = луна
24) earth/soil = земля, почва
25) salt = соль
26) mountain = гора
27) tree = дерево
28) rain = дождь
29) wind = ветер
30) bird = птица
31) flesh/meat = плоть, мясо
32) liver = печень
33) skin/hide = кожа, шкура
34) knee = колено
35) breast/chest = грудь
36) person = личность
37) man = мужчина, человек
38) woman = женщина
39) child = ребёнок
40) hair/fur = волосы, мех
41) mouth = рот
42) neck = шея
43) foot/leg = нога
44) feather = перо
45) grease/fat = жир
46) smoke = дым
47) ash/soot = пепел, зола
48) sand = песок
49) wood = дерево
50) root = корень
51) rope/cord =верёвка, шнур
52) path/road = путь, тропа, дорога
53) year = год

54) die = умирать
55) see/look/watch = видеть, смотреть
56) hear/listen = слышать, слушать
57) know = знать
58) drink = пить
59) give = давать
60) come = подходить, идти
61) stand = стоять
62) sit/set = сидеть, ставить
63) lie/lay = лежать, сложить
64) fly = летать
65) eat = есть
66) bite = кусать
67) burn = гореть
68) kill = убивать
69) say/tell/speak/talk = сказать, говорить
70) laugh = смеяться

71) new = новый/новая/новое
72) full = полный/полная/полное
73) good = хороший/хорошая/хорошее
74) long = длинный/длинная/длинное
75) red = красный/красная/красное
76) black = чёрный/чёрная/чёрное
77) white = белый/белая/белое
78) green = зелёный/зелёная/зелёное
79) yellow = жёлтый/жёлтая/жёлтое
80) small/little = маленький/маленькая/маленькое
81) big/large = большой/большая/большое
82) wide/broad = широкий/широкая/широкое
83) heavy =тяжёлый/тяжёлая/тяжёлое
84) old = старый/старая/старое
85) dry = сухой/сухая/сухое

86) I/me = я/меня/мне/мной
87) you = ты/тебя/тебе/тобой, вы/вас/вам/вами
88) what/which = что/чего/чему/чем/чём, какой
89) who/whom = кто/кого/кому/кем/ком
90) one = один/одна/одно
91) two = два/две
92) not, no = не, нет
93) this/these = это/этот/эта/эти
94) we/us = мы/нас/нам/нами
95) all/everything/everyone = всё/все

Please let me know if you spot any mistakes here. And if you take this list and translate it into another language, that would be awesome! I'd be sure to give you some lingots! More versions can be found here. (Be sure to check what's been translated already before posting your own.) And if you like this kind of thing, check out my website for more!

November 19, 2015



Don't forget WiFi.


You'll find a good implementation of such a list for Russian in the Russian Graded Readers I-V, by George V. Bobrinskoy and Otto F. Bond. The list is given in an appendix, and the 5 stories gradually introduce all the words. It's old (my copy is from the 1960s) and out of print, however.


great list, really helpful :)


This list will become very helpful. I have just started the Russian course and this will be good revision as I progress through the tree.


Cool list. Can any native speaker of Russian tell me how common the work "древесина" is? Спасибо!


Hardly ever used outside of the woodworking industry or maybe Warcraft and Heroes of Might & Magic. The word mostly refers to wood as a commodity or a material - and if you're not trying to sound like a fifth-generation carpenter turned woodcutter, saying "дерево" instead (e.g. "стол из дерева" - 'a wooden table') works just fine.

I'd say "древесина" is very similar in usage to 'timber', except when you're wearing a plaid shirt and you're chopping down pines in the middle of nowhere. Then you use "Бойся!" ('Beware!').


"Бойся!"??! Be afraid, very afraid. Russian timber be comin' down. lol. Interesting, thanks.


Thanks for the info! No need to include "древесина" in this list, I guess. It's not meant to be exhaustive.


word 'бойся' is not used practically ) "Берегись" or "Осторожно"


Aye, generally speaking, that's true. But when you're felling trees in a Russian forest, you're obliged to use "Бойся-я-я!", exactly like you would yell 'Timbe-e-er!' if you knocked over someone's Chrimbo tree. Otherwise they just revoke your plaid licence on the spot.

I was just as surprised to learn that Russian woodcutters shout "Бойся!" when they're felling trees, but I guess it makes sense, what with the word also being a trochee and all.


It's been many years since I played WoW, but I remember one of my characters was a Druid named Ле́ший :>) (I loved Russian folklore when I was a lad.)

The next thing I thought of in regard to all things Russian and woodworking:

There is a 2010 documentary currently available on Netflix called:

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga.

It is a 'year in the life of' Siberian trappers in an isolated village. One of them makes his own skis using simple, basic tools, and wood dead-fall traps that have changed little in a few hundred years.


I've never heard of "бойся" when felling trees. Thanks for the information!


8) louse/flea = вошь
A core concept? LOL :) (btw flea is "блоха")

24) earth/soil = земля
I would rather use "почва" for "soil". The English words corresponding to "земля" are: ground, land, earth

37) man = мужчина
I would add "человек" for Russian. For example, "The Invisible Man" is translated "Человек-Неведимка", not "Мужчина-Невидимка" (Spiderman - Человек-Паук)

47) ash/soot = пепел
"пепел" and "зола" are practically interchangable.

52) path/road = тропа, дорога
"Путь" is more widely used word than "тропа". For example, if we are talking about path to a file on the hard drive (flash drive) it definitely would be "путь"

A General Note about verbs.
Since for adjectives you have listed all their gender forms "новый/новая/новое" (and this is really good idea), it would be good to list perfective/imperfective forms of verbs (умереть/умирать, давать/дать, летать/лететь, говорить/сказать etc.)

60) come = подходить, идти
Come - приходить/прийти, go - идти/пойти/ехать/поехать


Thanks for the awesome suggestions! I've incorporated them into my list. The only thing I didn't do was add the extra verb forms. This is partly because I don't speak Russian, and I don't actually have all the verb forms handy, but mostly it's that this is intended to be more of a vocabulary list for comparing languages than a study guide per se. It's a little like a snapshot you can look over and get a feel for a language quickly. For example, If you want to compare Russian to Ukrainian, I have parallel lists.

Actually, speaking of that, I have the genders listed for nouns in Ukrainian but not in Russian. That would be a nice detail to add.


Another core concept is the difference between a concept and a word.


Right, this is not a list of words per se. That's why many entries have more than one word. Of course, a word is a useful handle for a concept.


This is a great list, though I would like to see the top 1000.


I would have included all the senses in the verbs. To smell, to taste, and to feel are missing. I would also include to love and to like. Also the Russian translations that you have given for "to come" are actually to approach and to go. I think it should be приезжать/приехать. Some of these nouns seem to relate to ancient people. I rarely use the words soot, louse or horn Adjectives should include antonyms eg. wet, empty and light Other should include he, she, they

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