July 01, 2021

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber

In Russian, as in English, it isn’t nice to call someone “stupid.” But sometimes you just have to say it. And, judging by the incredibly long list of synonyms and expressions for people who aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, Russians agree. In fact, Russian and English seem to share many of the same images of stupidity.

Russian has four basic ways to describe a person who is or does something dumb: глупый (stupid); тупой (thick); дурак (idiot); болван (blockhead).

Глупый seems to be derived – unfortunately – from глухой (deaf) and can be applied to people, animals, inanimate objects and actions. Мир состоит из умных и глупых, из сильных и слабых (The world is made up of people who are smart and stupid, strong and weak). Он совершает довольно глупые поступки (He is doing pretty stupid things). Sometimes being idiotic is good: Влюблённые глупеют. (People in love get stupid).  

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