Interesting Russian words with X

with 7 Comments


This a really dorky confession, but I read reference books for fun. When I was a little girl, it was the English thesaurus- I’d sneak peeks at it during boring school lessons and try to find strange words. When I started learning foreign languages, bilingual dictionaries suddenly became fascinating resources. Still, dictionaries aren’t exactly captivating reads and who has time to sit around and read the dictionary?

Well…. here’s how to find the time. Go to Siberia. In winter.


Suddenly that dictionary will become a lot more interesting than 99% of all other activities (mainly because they involve leaving a warm building).


Ever since then, I’ve been a dictionary convert. They’re not expensive, the entries are short, and you’ll never run out of things to read. Dictionaries are like Twitter with spellcheck.


The other day I encountered a funny-looking word. Хохотать, which actually means to laugh out loud. It got me thinking about other Russian words that start with X (haha, no, not that one). Here’s the best of what I found in Kenneth Katzner’s bilingual dictionary:


Warm up: 3 verbs that start with Х



хандрить = to be depressed
хихикать = to giggle
хорошеть = to get prettier, more attractive






9 Words that start with X: Describing people

хам = a boor, a lout, a person with no class
хвастун = a braggart
хлебосол = a good host
хлопец = a boy, lad, youth
хлопотун = a busybody
холостяк = a bachelor
хохотун = a merry fellow
храбрец = a brave man
храпун = a snorer

Notes: Хлопец is almost exactly the same in Ukrainian (хлопець). Хам is one of the most common polite insults of Russian speakers and supposedly is derived from the biblical Ham. Хлебосол is literally bread (хлеб) + salt (сол). Here’s more info on the origins of that word and a picture a Ukrainian penpal sent before we met for the first time.

That’s salt on top of the bread 🙂


Learning words to describe people can unlock lots of related words for you. Two examples…

хлебосол = a good host / хлебосольный = hospitable (adj) / хлебосольство = hospitality (noun)

хам = a person with no class / хамить = to be rude (verb) / хамский = rude, vulgar (adj) / хамство = rudeness (noun)



10 Useful phrases with X:

моя хата с краю = It has nothing to do with me- literally, “my hut is on the edge”
харкать кровью = to spit blood
хватить через край = to go too far
не велика хитрость = it takes no great skill
хлопать в ладоши = to clap one’s hands
Полный ход! = Full steam ahead!
хочешь не хочешь = like it or not
ход мыслей = train of thoughts
хоть убей = for the life of me

And of course…



7 four-letters words starting with Х:

хаос = chaos
= junk, rubbish
хлоп! = bang! clap! (sound)
храп = a snore
хрен = horseradish
хряк = male hog
храм = temple



And finally-



My 5 favorite words starting with X : )

халтура  = work performed or money earned on the side; also can mean something done poorly
харчи = food, grub
хвост = tail or line
хвостик = ponytail
с хвостиком = plus a little more





Congratulations!!! You just got through over 30 Russian words starting with X without having to crack open a dictionary! Молодец 😀

Here’s a little test for you- all the sentences below are from Google searches:

1. Москва хорошеет с каждым днём.

2. Хряк весом в 227 кило стал любимым домашним питомцем американской семьи.

3. …в свои семьдесят с хвостиком выглядит на двадцать лет моложе.

4. Сейчас хочешь не хочешь, а платить надо.

5. Я, хоть убей, до сих пор не понимаю.

6. Чтобы не хандрить, нужно срочно в цирк сходить.

7. Не велика хитрость среди овец прожить, но велика хитрость зайцу волка бежать заставить! (монгольская пословица)

8. Можно ли умереть от хохота?


Over to you-

Do you ever read the dictionary for fun? And if so, was it related to a study-abroad experience? 😉

Any words I missed on this list?

7 Responses

  1. Roman
    | Reply

    I’d add here few words important for the Russian lifestyle:
    Хватка – literally “grip”, grab something profitable and don’t let others take it from you.
    Халява – something that can be (but not always polite to) taken for free in rather big quantity.
    Хомячить – eat like a hamster, quickly and almost not chewing 🙂

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Hahaha, хомячить is the greatest word ever :p Thanks for these additions, Roman!

  2. Roman
    | Reply

    Also your choice of pictures to this article made me smile few times 🙂 thanks!

  3. […] you use Google Translate when learning Russian? I used to rely on Kenneth Katzner’s amazing red dictionary but now it’s usually faster to put the mysterious word or phrase into Google Translate. […]

  4. […] are lots of things I do in pursuit of better Russian: manage a farm, read the dictionary, watch presidents on YouTube, and memorize the lyrics to famous songs. They’re all fun to do […]

  5. kjfvjk
    | Reply

    Entertaining blog!
    I am starting to learn Russian and bought this dictionary yesterday. I have enjoyed reading entries in it today.
    I’ll add хоБот, the trunk of an elephant, since “trunk” is the example word Kenneth Katzner uses on the back cover of his dictionary to illustrate how he handles English words with multiple meanings. For this particular word he finds six meanings in American English, including the trunk of a car, in England, which is where I am from, we don’t say trunk, we say boot (багажник).

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Thank you! And congrats on starting to learn Russian 🙂 It’s an awesome language and Katzner’s dictionary will be a great resource for you. What other books / sites / programs are you using?

      Хобот is a very good addition to this list, I love it!

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