Russian English Dictionary:
Reviews of Good Paper Dictionaries



On this page:

Generalist dictionaries

Specialist dictionaries

YOUR Review of Russian English Dictionary

If you look for a paper Russian English dictionary, be it a general-purpose or a specialized one, the market supply of these dictionaries is plentiful. Which of them deserves praise? The answer will inevitably be subjective depending on personal preferences and needs of a linguist, translator or language learner. My choice is subjective too. However, I believe that the dictionaries described below deserve attention and will be useful for people with an interest in English and Russian languages.



Generalist dictionaries

1. New Comprehensive Russian English Dictionary
(Новый большой русско-английский словарь)

Authors: D.I. Yermolovich and T.M Krasavina (Д.И. Ермолович, Т.М. Красавина)
Publisher: Russkiy Yazyk – Media, Moscow
Publication date: 2004, 2006 (revised and corrected), 2008 (stereotype)
Hardcover: 1,524 pages
Number of entries: 110,000 words and expressions

For a long time, there was a lack of good Russian English dictionaries comparable in quality with good English-Russian dictionaries available on the market. Russian English dictionaries materially lagged behind the developments in the Russian language and actually did not meet needs of many dictionary users. In 2004, that gap was bridged with the publication of the New Comprehensive Russian English Dictionary by D.I. Yermolovich and T.M Krasavina (hereinafter referred to as Yermolovich's dictionary). As the title of the foreword states, this Russian English dictionary mirrors "new vocabulary of the two languages at the start of the third millennium."

The new dictionary is based on the Comprehensive Russian English Dictionary by A.I. Smirnitsky and O.S. Akhmanova, which was the largest and one of the most popular Russian English dictionaries for many years. The first edition of Smirnitsky's dictionary was published in 1948. Since then, the dictionary has been republished many times. The author died in 1955, so later updates were made by other lexicographers. The most thorough update was made in 1992. The later editions are stereotype, that is not revised to reflect the evolution of the Russian language.

In addition to the standard Russian vocabulary readily found in any other generalist Russian English dictionary, Yermolovich's dictionary includes many general words and phrases that are difficult to find in other dictionaries. To cite a few examples, жирность - 'fat content', кисломолочный - 'fermented milk' (adjective), креплёный - 'fortified' (wine), негоже - 'it is inappropriate', прилюдно - 'in public', содеянное - 'one's doings'.

Yermolovich's dictionary is distinguished by thorough coverage of the household vocabulary (words and expressions related to everyday life), the baby-talk vocabulary (words and expressions used by toddlers and infants or by adults in talking to children), onomatopoeic words (words that imitate natural sounds), and interjections. In these fields, any other Russian English dictionary is lacking. Have you ever tried to find such words as пиф-паф, вжик, ух ты, бяка, воображала, ата-та and the like in a Russian English dictionary? They are missing. Yermolovich's dictionary fills in the gap. It explains that подставка под чайник is 'a trivet', венчик - 'an eggbeater', бананы - 'tapered leg trousers', фантик - 'a candy wrapper', попка - 'buttocks’, ‘fanny'.

The dictionary gives English equivalents for names of popular Russian fairy tales, plays, operas and ballets. In addition, one can find translations for religious and church formulas, events, and icons. Idiomatic expressions are widely presented too. Take for example idiomatic uses of the word край: пойти на край света за кем-либо - 'to follow somebody to the ends of the earth', услышать краем уха - 'to hear from a distance', краем глаза - 'out of the corner of one's eye', хватить через край - 'to go overboard'.

This new Russian English dictionary contains a wealth of new words that have enriched the Russian language over the past two decades. This includes a great number of new colloquial expressions and slang words. For example, the slang word отстой means ‘trash’, ‘junk,’ or ‘dreck,’ though its literal meaning is ‘sediment,’ ‘residue,’ ‘dreg,’ or ‘sludge.’

It should be noted that the authors of the dictionary performed a large amount of work to identify new meanings of long-known words such as зависать - 'to hang' (of a computer), вести - 'to lead' (in a competition), каталог - 'a directory', мышь - 'a (computer) mouse', окно - 'a (program) window', and many more. The dictionary mirrors new terminology that has come into existence recently, including widely used terms from such areas of knowledge as information technology: баннер - 'a banner', дисковод - 'a disk drive', утилита - 'a utility'.

There are many more remarkable features of this Russian English dictionary... Okay, enough description. Bottom line: The incredible amount of work the authors have put into compiling this dictionary earns praise. No doubt it is the best generalist Russian English dictionary available on the market today. The dictionary will be a valuable asset for translators and interpreters, linguists, teachers of Russian and English, and language learners. People interested in English and Russian languages will enjoy reading this dictionary too.

2. The Concise Oxford Russian Dictionary (Russian English, English Russian)
Authors: Marcus Wheeler, Boris Unbegaun, and Paul Falla
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 2000 (revised edition)
Hardcover: 1,024 pages
Number of entries: 120,000 words and phrases, and over 190,000 translations

An authoritative, comprehensive and up-to-date dictionary (though some contemporary Russian vocabulary is lacking). Offers good translations and many examples. Convenient to use. Provides extended grammatical information and covers difficult points of grammar. Also, provides sufficient information on morphology and phraseology for each dictionary entry.

3. English-Russian, Russian English Dictionary
Author: Kenneth Katzner
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Publication date: 1994 (revised and expanded edition)
Paperback: 1,120 pages
Number of entries: 26,000 entries in the English-Russian section and 40,000 words in the Russian-English section

It is a popular dictionary based on the American English. It gives a brief English explanation of each Russian equivalent. So if an English word has several Russian translations/equivalents, each will be explained. The dictionary will be helpful in learning proper pronunciation because many phrases have accent marks to show how to pronounce them. This dictionary is a good value-for-money solution for beginner to intermediate Russian language learners.

4. A Supplementary Russian English Dictionary, Second Edition
Author: Stephen Marder
Publisher: Slavica (Bloomington, Indiana)
Publication date: 2007
Hardcover: 736 pages
Number of entries: 81,000

This dictionary may serve as a good supplement to comprehensive Russian English dictionaries. It contains many contemporary words and expressions that have emerged in the Russian language over the past two decades. It provides information on many aspects of the Russian language and culture and reads like an encyclopedia. Though it is difficult to agree with the author’s interpretation of some Russian words (e.g. детишко) and expressions (e.g. воровской закон), the dictionary contains many lexical gems. If you are interested in the Russian language and culture, you will enjoy leafing through this Russian English dictionary.

5. The Random House
Russian English Dictionary of Idioms, 1st edition
Большой русско-английский фразеологический словарь,
2-е издание
Author: Sophia LubenskyAuthor: С.И. Лубенская
Publisher: Random House ReferencePublisher: Аст-Пресс
Publication date: 1995Publication date: 2004
Hardcover: 1,017 pagesHardcover: 1,056 pages
Number of entries: about 13,000 Russian idioms in 6,900 entriesNumber of entries: about 13,000 Russian idioms in about 7,000 entries

A unique bilingual collection of contemporary idioms compiled at the highest professional and linguistic level. This Russian English dictionary contains interpretation of idioms, grammatical information and literary examples to illustrate the usage. British and American equivalents of Russian idioms are provided. The dictionary is characterized by very detailed and thorough recording of a wide range of Russian idioms, from the simplest to rare. It will be useful for Russian and English language learners and teachers, as well as for linguists, translators and interpreters.


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Specialist dictionaries

6. Russian English Polytechnic Dictionary (Russian Edition)
(Русско-английский политехнический словарь)
Author: B. V. Kuznetsov (Б.В. Кузнецов)
Publisher: Russo, Moscow
Publication date: 2007 (7th stereotype edition)
Hardcover: 728 pages
Number of entries: about 90,000

Though the new edition is based on the dictionary first published in 1973, it remains a unique and one of the best technical dictionaries. It provides quite thorough coverage of technical terms currently used in such basic fields as automation, motor car construction, computer engineering, cybernetics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, electronics, metallurgy, heating engineering, construction, textile industry, food industry, etc. The dictionary gives examples of the usage of a term in context. It contains phraseological units and set phrases most often used in the technical and scientific literature. This Russian English dictionary will be useful for technical translators, students and teachers of technical colleges and universities, engineers and technicians.

7. Callaham's Russian English Polytechnical Dictionary
(Callaham's Russian English Dictionary of Science and Technology)
Русско-английский политехнический словарь
Authors: Ludmilla Ignatiev Callaham, Patricia E. Newman, John R. CallahamAuthor: Людмила Игнатьев-Каллэхэм
Publisher: WileyBlackwell (Wiley-Interscience)Publisher: Wiley, Moscow
Publication date: 1996 (4th edition)Publication date: 1995 (3rd edition)
Hardcover: 814 pagesHardcover: 880 pages
Number of entries: 125,000

A renowned technical dictionary. Popular with and well known to several generations of Russian<->English translators. A life work of the author. The first edition was published in the 1940th. The author points out in the preface that "this book is intended chiefly for English-speaking scientists and engineers with a fair knowledge of Russian and a very good knowledge of their own specialties." In addition to the scientific and technical terminology, it contains common-usage words that are likely to appear in the technical literature. The 4th edition of the dictionary is expensive (almost USD 240 on Amazon.com as of 21 Jan 2010). However the previous editions are moderately priced. This dictionary can be a valuable asset helpful in understanding Russian scientific and technical texts.

8. Англо-русский и русско-английский словарь религиозной и возвышенной лексики
Author: Д.И. Ермолович (D.I. Yermolovich)
Publisher: Р.Валент (R.Valent)
Publication date: 2004
Hardcover: 263 pages
Number of entries: about 5,000 terms and quotations

Religion was almost persecuted in the former Soviet Union. Religious notions were banished from consciousness of people, not to mention dictionaries. Англо-русский и русско-английский словарь религиозной и возвышенной лексики (English–Russian and Russian English Dictionary of Religious and Spiritual Lexicon) bridges a gap in knowledge of religious terms. It contains terms from Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and more. The dictionary covers rare terms (e.g. Антипасха - 'Low Sunday,' 'Quasimodo') that are difficult to find in other sources. It includes terms specific to the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as names of historic religious personalities. The dictionary provides detailed information about translation of some terms. Explanations are provided for translations that have no real connotation.


Enough about my favorite Russian-English dictionaries. What about yours?

What Is Your
Favorite Russian-English Dictionary?

There are so many Russian-English dictionaries on the market. Small and large, general and specialized. What do you think is the best paper Russian-English dictionary?

Your Favorite Russian-English Dictionaries

Click on the links below to see some great reviews on good Russian English dictionaries. They were written by other visitors to this page.

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_____________________________________________________________________ Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

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