Winter Words in Russian

Posted on January 5th, 2013

I love Russian winter for its gorgeous snowy beauty and clear frosty air. Cold, icy weather is just another excuse to curl up on the couch wrapped up in a blanket and read your favourite novel, while sipping a cup of hot cocoa and watching lacy snowflakes dancing behind the window glass. And then when the daylight turns into dark, the white city covered in fluffy snow and lit up by the yellow street lights looks like a freshly opened Christmas postcard that you just got in the mail from a fairy tale winter wonderland…

If you share my passion for the Russian winter, you will probably want to know a few winter words in Russian. Let’s start with the basics.

If you would like to know the names of the winter months, you can watch this lesson – The Names of the Months in Russian.
You might also be interested in how to talk about the weather in Russian.

Зима [zee-MA] winter
Зимняя погода [ZEEM-nya-ya pa-GO-da] winter weather
Лёд [LYOT] ice
Cнежинка [snye-ZHEEN-ka] snowflake
Снежная буря [SNYEZH-na-ya BOO-rya] blizzard
Метель [mee-TYEL’] snowstorm, blizzard
Вьюга [V’YOO-ga] snowstorm, blizzard, storm
Ветер [VYE-tyer] wind
Мороз [ma-ROS] frost
Холод [HO-lat] (the) cold

You can also use this slang word to say “cold” in Russian, but it’s only used in spoken or informal Russian:
Холодина (noun) [ha-la-DEE-na] cold weather, cold
Here are a few examples of how these words are used in sentences:
Такая холодина на улице!
It’s so cold outside!

Сегодня мороз, одевайся теплее.
It’s freezing outside today, dress warmer.

Kакая метель разыгралась!
What a snowstorm broke out!

Nevsky Prospect at night

Nevsky Prospect at night by Luigi Guarino from Flickr

Cнег [SNEH] snow
If you would like to say “it’s snowing” in Russian, you will need to use verb “идёт” to express the movement.
Снег идёт [SNYEH ee-DYOT] it’s snowing

You can switch words “cнег” and “идёт” places, but the meaning of the sentence will stay the same:
Снег идёт.
Идёт снег.

Question: How can you say “it’s raining” in Russian? (Hint: “rain” in Russian is дождь [DOZHD’])

More winter words in Russian:

Сугроб [soog-ROP] snowdrift
Сосулька [sa-SOOL’-ka] icicle
Град [GRAT] hail
Oблако [OB-la-ka] cloud
Туча [TOO-cha] cloud, storm cloud
Хмурый [HMOO-riy] gloomy, overcast
Облачный [OB-lach-niy] cloudy
Пасмурный [PAS-moor-niy] cloudy, overcast, gloomy

A couple of examples of the words above in sentences:
Какие высокие сугробы!
These snowdrifts are so tall!

Сегодня пасмурный день, небо облачное и хмурое.
It’s overcast today. The sky is cloudy and gloomy.

Adjectives describing winter weather conditions in Russian:
Замёрзший [za-MYOR-ssheey] frozen
Заснеженный [za-SNYE-zhe-niy] snowy, covered with snow
Зимний [ZEEM-neey] winter
Скользкий [SKOLS-keey] slippery
Ледяной [lee-dya-NOY] icy
Морозный [ma-ROZ-niy] frosty

Here are a few examples of how these words can be used in a sentence:
Люблю смотреть из окна на заснеженные деревья и крышы домов.
I love looking at the snowy trees and roof tops from the window.

Сегодня солнечный морозный зимний день.
Today is a sunny frosty winter day.

Walking in the cold weather you might get cold too. Here is how you can say you are cold:
Мне холодно.
I’m cold.
Холодно (adverb) [HO-lad-na] cold
Холодный (adj. ) [ha-LOD-niy] cold

If you get really cold, which again is possible in cold Russian weather, you can use this verb:
Замерзать [za-meer-ZAT’] freeze, get cold
Here is an example:
– Я уже совсем замёрз. Идём домой!
– I’m so cold. Let’s go home!

This is a good comforting word to knowthat you feel right after getting wrapped up in a blanket and sipping your hot cocoa or tea:
Согреваться [sag-ree-VAT’-sya] warm up

A few more words to know while walking around in cold icy Russian weather:
Поскользнуться [pas-kal’-ZNOO-t’sya] slip

Well, if you know word “Скользить”, you also need to know word
Падать [PA-dat’] fall

Here is a good example:
Было скользко на улице, я подскользнулся и упал.
It was slippery outside, I slipped and fell.

And, of course, if you know word “Падать” you need to know word
Подниматься [pad-nee-MAT’-sya] get up, stand up, rise

Or it’s synonym:
Вставать [fsta-VAT’] get up, stand up, rise

– Давай руку, я помогу тебе подняться. Вставай!
– Give me your hand, I’ll help you to get up. Get up!

Winter Activities in Russian

These words describe fun winter activities in Russian:
Коньки [kan’-KEE] skates
Лыжи [LI-zhee] skis
Санки [SAN-kee] sled
Сноуборд [snow-BORT] snowboard
If you would like to say that you want to go skating, skiing or sledding, you will need to use the verb “кататься” with the preposition “на” in the prepositional case. (In the previous Russian grammar lesson I talked about how to say where you are or where you live using the prepositional case and prepositions “в” and “во”. In my following lessons, I will tell you more about how the prepositional case is used with other prepositions in other situations.)

Кататься на [ka-TAT’-sya na]
Кататься на коньках – skating
Кататься на лыжах – skiing
Кататься на санках – sledding
Кататься на сноуборде – snowboarding

Here are a couple of examples:
Я обожаю кататься на коньках и сноуборде!
I love skating and snowboarding!

Мы идём кататься на лыжах в эти выходные!
We are going skiing this weekend!

Саша катается на санках.
Sasha is skating.

snow in Moscow

Snow in Moscow today by Elena Pleskevich on Flickr

More words describing fun winter activities in Russian:
Играть в снежки [eeg-RAT’ f snyesh-KEE] play snowballs
If you are playing snowballs, you need to know how to build a snow fort:
Снежная крепость [SNYEZH-na-ya KRYE-past’] snow fort
Строить снежную крепость [STRO-eet’ SNYEZH-noo-yoo KRYE-past’] build a snow fort
Лепить снеговика [lye-PEET’ snee-ga-vee-KA] build a snowman
Лепить снежную бабу [lye-PEET’ SNYEZH-noo-yoo BA-boo] make a snowman
(woman! :)

Just in case, if you don’t know how “лепить снежную бабу”, this cute doggie will show you how – watch the video.

Of course, you can “лепить” anything you want:
Снежную королеву – snow queen
Снежную девушку – snow girl
Снегурочку – Snegurochka
Снежную собачку – snow dog (собачка is diminutive from собака) or cнежную кошечку (кошечкa is diminutive from кошкa) – snow cat or anything else you like.

Winter Clothes in Russian

If you think that during winter we wear loads and loads of warm layers, you are completely right. In some areas of Russia or other countries of the former Soviet Union, the temperature may drop to below -20°C, and as you can tell, it gets really cold. So, if you are planning on traveling to Russia in winter, be prepared to wear lots of warm layers: a warm sweater, a winter coat or a fur coat, a pair of warm boots, a hat, a scarf and a pair of gloves. Below are the names of some of the warm clothes in Russian:

Зимняя oдежда [ZEEM-nya-ya a-DYEZH-da] winter clothes
Свитер [SVEE-ter] sweater
Кофта [KOF-ta] cardigan
Джемпер [DZHEM-pyer] jumper
Колготы [kal-GO-ti] tights
Колготки [kal-GOT-kee] tights (diminutive)
Верхняя одежда [VYERH-nya-ya a-DYZH-da] overclothes
Пальто [pal’-TO] coat
Пиджак [peed-ZHAK] jacket
Шуба [SHOO-ba] fir coat
Пуховик [poo-ha-VEEK] down-padded coat
Куртка [KOOR-tka] jacket, winter jacket
Курточка [KOOR-tach-ka] jacket, winter jacket (diminutive)

Кожаный [KO-zha-niy] leather
Шерстяной [sheer-stya-NOY] woolen
Пуховый платок [POO-ha-viy] downy shawl

Вязанный [VYA-za-niy] knitted
Тёплый [TYOP-liy] warm

Зимние aксесуары [ZEEM-nee-ye ak-se-soo-A-ri] winter accessories
Шапка [SHAP-ka]
Ушанка [oo-SHAN-ka] (Russian) hat with ear flaps
Шарф [SHARF] scarf
Перчатки [peer-CHAT-kee] gloves
Рукавички [roo-ka-VEECH-kee] mittens
Варежки [VA-ryesh-kee] mittens

Зимняя обувь [ZEEM-nya-ya O-boof’] winter footware
Сапоги [sa-pa-GEE]
Ботинки [ba-TEEN-kee]
Туфли [TOOF-lee] shoes
Носки [nas-KEE] socks

Back to you: have you ever been to Russia in winter? What winter activities do you enjoy?

Have fun learning Russian! :)


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