Category: "Furniture"


by Tatiana  

Some words in Russian are formed in a very simple way, almost as if someone just looked at an object and made an observation. Take, for example, подушка, “pillow”. Под means “under” and ушко is “little ear”. So, what do you put under your ear – a pillow!

Подушка is a noun of feminine gender. The plural form is подушки, diminutive is подушечка.

Preподушке подушках

Скажите, а у вас нет зелёных подушек с красными цветами? Tell me, do you have any green pillows with red flowers?
— Лена меня подушкой по голове ударила!
— Отвести тебя в отделение скорой помощи?
“Lena hit me on the head with a pillow!”
“Should I take you to the emergency room?”
— Тебе какую подушку, большую или маленькую?
— А я вообще без подушки сплю.
“Which pillow do you want, a big or a small one?”
“I sleep without a pillow.”
Мне так спать хочется, я о подушке только и могу думать! I am so sleepy, all I can think of is a pillow!

Airbag in Russian is called подушка безопасности, ‘safety pillow’.

— Ты в аварию попал? Как ты себя чувствуешь?
— Всё нормально. Хорошо, что подушка безопасности сработала!
“Did you get into an accident? How are you feeling?”
“It’s all good. I was lucky that the airbag worked!”

Fingertips are called подушечки пальцев, which literally means ‘little finger pillows’.

— У меня очень сильно болит голова.
— Попробуй очень нежно помасировать виски подушечками пальцев.
“I have a very bad headache.”
“Try gently massaging your temples with your fingertips.”

My mom sometimes uses a phrase that my great grandfather would always say, "спите скорее, подушка нужна!", "sleep faster, we need the pillow!". I would hear it when I took too long to fall asleep. I'm not sure where he got it from, but this saying has been in my family for a long time!

Don adds: Although it is true that some people connect подушка with the root ух- ‘ear,’ there is an alternative hypothesis that connects it with an ancient word for feather based on the stem дух- ‘breath/puff.’ See Fasmer for discussion.


by Don  

When you enter a Russian apartment, often one of the first things you encounter is an item of furniture on which to hang your coat, and that item is called a вешалка. It's a mostly regular noun, but do notice the fill-vowel in the genitive plural:


The stem of the word is вес-, which means ‘hang.’ It can apply to a thousand items that are used to hang things: a free-standing coat rack, a peg-board that holds coats, a wire hanger, a hook on a wall, a loop on a shirt, or even a towel-rack:

Photo of various types of вешалки
Various types of вешалки

Sample sentences:

Как только вхожу в офис, я вешаю свою куртку на вешалку. I hang my jacket on the coatrack as soon as I enter the office.
Почему ты повесил джинсы на вешалку? Надо их погладить, аккуратно сложить и положить в шкаф. Why did you hang your jeans on the peg board? You should iron them, fold them neatly, and put them in the armoire.
— Где мой плащ?
— Он как всегда висит на вешалке. Что за идиотский вопрос.
“Where is my raincoat?”
“It's hanging on the coatrack as always. What a stupid question.”