2000 Замочить в сортире: to wipe ’em out in the outhouse, what President Putin said should be done to Chechen bandits; uttered at a press conference, this was the first of Mr. Putin’s Russian Lessons, a series of helpful language learning classes he held during the first years in office
2001 Вообще, pronounced вааааааще: yowza, wow, golly gosh darn, i.e., any exclamatory phrase that expresses astonishment, either good or bad; of unclear provenance — how a word that means “in general” came to mean “can you believe it?” is at present unexplained; conveniently used in the phrase “ну ты вообще,” which means either “you are great” or “you are horrible” and is t
2002 Как бы: kinda, a parasitic phrase that for several years was uttered constantly by everyone in every situation in Moscow, then St. Petersburg and for all we know — eventually every nook and cranny of this great, vast land; for several years when it was at its peak use, it seemed that people did not do things, they kinda did things; they kinda read books, they kinda felt well, they kinda went to work — as if they lived in a virtual reality; in retrospect, they kinda did
2003 Пофигист: someone who doesn’t care about anything, especially elections but also politics, economic indicators, climate change, clothing styles, or cleaning up the kitchen and changing the sheets; from the expression мне по фигу (I don’t give a hoot); the typical пофигист has good and bad qualities: he is hard to live with but very easy to rule
2004 Экзит-пол: exit poll, what was used in earlier elections to determine the outcome of the elections after people voted — I know, right? what a concept!; annoying term for Russian-speaking people in Russia who did not spend their youth working the primaries on the Jersey shore; not used in over a decade because: Why?
Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, author of “The Russian Word’s Worth,” a collection of her columns. Follow her on Twitter @MicheleBerdy.