Russian idioms vol.2: Why do they kill hares?

Ilya Ogarev
If you still have no idea how to speak Russian in a smart way, just read our new chapter of “Russian idioms”! Spoiler: some of them you already use.

1. To buy a cat in a poke

Drawing by Ilya OgarevDrawing by Ilya Ogarev

No, there is no mistake. If unsure about the quality of a purchased product, Russians prefer to buy a cat instead of a pig in a poke.

This phrase is also known in English, French, German, Chinese and other languages with minor changes.

2. To kill two hares

Drawing by Ilya OgarevDrawing by Ilya Ogarev

For those who want double the bang for their buck. Most likely, you know this idiom as “to kill two birds with one stone.”

3. Here’s where the dog is buried

Drawing by Ilya OgarevDrawing by Ilya Ogarev

That’s the heart of the matter!

There is a tale about Austrian warrior Sigismund Alstein and his favorite dog. The dog once saved the life of its owner on the battlefield, sacrificing its own in the process. Sigismund erected a monument in honor of his faithful pet. Time forgot the location, but instead gave birth to the phrase “where the dog is buried.”

The Russian version of this idiom is a loan translation from the German “Da liegt der Hund begraben”.

4. A storm in a glass

Drawing by Ilya OgarevDrawing by Ilya Ogarev

Too small to be serious, or "a storm in a teacup" in the words of an English tea-drinker. Russians also say “to make an elephant out of a fly” instead of the proverbial mountain out of a molehill.

5. To rest on one's laurels

Drawing by Ilya OgarevDrawing by Ilya Ogarev

Only success or a significant achievement will allow you to do this.

6. Fear has big eyes

Drawing by Ilya OgarevDrawing by Ilya Ogarev

The full version goes as follows: “Fear has big eyes, but sees nothing.” Under serious emotional stress, the eye pupils dilate and widen noticeably, so it looks like your eyes get bigger.

Read more:

Russian idioms vol.1: Why Russians throw pearls to pigs

10 Russian words impossible to translate into English

Why is the Russian language so difficult?

5 easy ways to learn Russian

Nihilistic intelligentsia dine on beluga: Russian words that have entered the English language

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