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 therefore applicable to anything your spouse ever says or does
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.