by Bella  

My favorite letter of the Russian alphabet has always been Ж. When I was younger I called it "the bug letter" because it kind of looks like a bug. Conveniently, it is also the first letter of the Russian word for bug, жук. The plural of our word is, жуки. To be precise, the word means beetle, a type of insect that has hardened wing-coverings:

Жук полетел прямо на меня!
The beetle flew right at me!

If the context does not demand scientific precision, then one might use the word ‘bugs’ in English translation:

Ещё три жука влетели в комнату.
Three bugs flew into the room.

Since I am terrified of bugs, if the above examples were in real life, I would be running out of that room. Especially if the жук were a cockroach. Blech!

The diminutive form of the word is жучок in the singular and жучки in plural. You can use this form if the bug is tiny or if the context is informal. Diminutives of animal words are also often used when talking to children or when children are talking about animals.

Дима смеялся над Машей, потому что она убежала от жучков.
Dima laughed at Masha because she ran away from the bugs.

Это всего лишь маленький  жучок!
It's just a little bug!

In American slang we often refer to a minor sickness as a bug; Russians don't do this. So if you say “У меня жук в желудке” to mean “I have a stomach bug,” then Russian people will think that you literally you swallowed a beetle.

1 comment

Comment from: gamelton [Visitor]

I suggest you cover figurative sense of that noun. Like “жук” - rogue, crook and “жучок” - hidden listening device.

10/01/10 @ 08:08

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