Proper translations of "to cheat" here

Russian Language Asked by Banach on September 17, 2020

I understand that questions that could potentially be answered by using the dictionary are frowned upon however there are multiple words that I see for cheating, which have overlapping meanings because English isn’t very precise.

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I’ve included this picture mostly because this comes from a Russian-English Telegram channel and it doesn’t appear to be right. In the video, the man is using the dog to read the newspaper and beneath that, it says, обманывать. обманывать to my understanding means to deceive someone through lies. Cheating also can be breaking rules in a game to gain an advantage which seems like жульничать.

In English, we may even call this a life-hack. Alternatively, it seems like I could use изменять as well. Is this correct?

6 Answers

The situation in the picture can be described with different Russian verbs, but обманывать is definitely not one of them. For a native Russian speaker the combination of the picture and обманывать looks weird and practically inexplicable, it is like one of difficult IQ test puzzles, barely to be solved without the knowledge that it was an English speaker that associated the verb with the picture and that the connection of обманывать and the picture lies in a partial overlapping of the meaning of обманывать and an English verb that the author of the picture used to call the situation. It looks like to trick is the English verb.

A Russian verb that fits well the situation in the picture is изворачиваться, particularly the meanings

  1. (figuratively) to find a way out of a predicament, to be resourceful


  1. (figuratively, colloquial) to use cunning or trickery, to contrive.

Обманывать means

  1. to deceive, to cheat, to trick, to swindle
  2. to disappoint, to let down

As for me, the best verb I would use for the picture is выкручиваться, especially in the expression выкручиваться из сложного положения. Note, that both изворачиваться and выкручиваться are associated not with deception, but with twisting and turning around in order to find a way from a complicated situation, these two verbs do not have connotation as negative as обманывать has.

Correct answer by Yellow Sky on September 17, 2020

I'm surprised nobody mentionеd "обдурить". Being closer in it's meaning to "обхитрить" and "обмануть", however it differs from a lie because in some cases it's just not about lying and, as such, in some cases it is a decent choice for translating cheating.

Other word I can think of - "наколоть"/"накалывать", like in - "наколоть систему" - wiktionary doesn't mention it but it has additional meaning "to trick someone/something".

Answered by shabunc on September 17, 2020

"Cheat" in picture falls to case

avoid (something undesirable) by luck or skill 

Usually translated as обмануть. See :

He cheated death.   
Он обманул смерть.

Closest Russian word for a noun to that exact meaning of "lifehack" would be "уловка" - "trick", but word also got meaning of "deception". "смекалка" also seem appropriate, but it's common "cunning".

In slang we literally use transliterated "cheat" and "lifehack" today sometimes, in appropriate context. "Lifehack" became more formal thanks to media. Spelled "чит" and "лайфхак".

 be sexually unfaithful.

Is replaced by "betray" - "изменять" used with dative case in relation to partner and with comitative case in relation to illicit partner:

Оливер изменял своей невесте с ее сестрой.
Oliver cheated his fiancée with her sister.

Rest meaning are pretty straightforward and there are numerous synonyms and expressions parallel to english ones.

Answered by Swift on September 17, 2020

Maybe they used the word 'обмануть' because the boy in the picture didn't want his meal to be eaten by the dog and gave him a newspaper to gag his mouth) If it's true 'обмануть' is ок, but I would use a synonym 'обхитрить' here. Because 'обмануть' is stronger and has a more negative meaning. Обхитрить is a derivative from хитрый (sly) and closer 'to trick'.

Answered by Slo_nik on September 17, 2020

Another word that wasn't mentioned is мухлевать, мухлёж, which means "to cheat in games", it mostly applies to card games and such though. Although the format is unusual for Russian meme styles, so Russians seeing the picture and the word together might not immediately get what's going on and who is cheating in what.

A more common way to present this would be with words like находчивость, смекалка, хитрость, etc.

Alternatively, if you wrote читер there, most people would also immediately understand what you meant. Читер is pretty well established term used to refer to people who cheat at computer games and writing it as a caption to that photo would have a similar concept to writing cheat or something like hax in English.

Answered by Curiosity on September 17, 2020

I am not really sure what the "proper use of a dog" is, and how exactly it is improper to train it to hold the newspaper.

Russian has лайфхак which is a loanword from English.

Russian also has смекалка ("practical wit, ability to think outside the box and find unorthodox solutions to everyday problems by using available resources")

I would also note that it's not a common trope in Russian memes to provide fake dictionary articles, complete with pronunciation.

It's much more common to use the first letter of a word, similar to the way they do this in the children's books: Л — лайфхак, С — смекалка etc., as if the picture were an illustration of the word starting with this letter.

Answered by Quassnoi on September 17, 2020

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