Mat is a term for strong obscene profanity in Russian and some other Slavic language communities. Mat is censored in the media and the use of mat in public constitutes a form of disorderly conduct, or mild hooliganism (although, such laws are only enforced episodically, in particular due to the vagueness of the legal definition).

However, despite the public ban, mat is used by Russians of all ages and nearly all social groups, with particular fervor in male-dominated military and the structurally similar social strata.

However, it is considered highly uncultured and very offensive in certain social circles, especially if women are present. The word ‘mat’ is short form of the verb ‘materit’ (‘to scold someone’s mother’). Obscenities are among the earliest recorded attestations of the Russian language (the first written mat words date to the Middle Ages). It was first introduced into literature in the 18th century by the poet Ivan Barkov, whose poetry, combining lofty lyrics with brutally obscene words, may be regarded as a forerunner of Russian literary parody.

The key elements of mat are: ‘khuy’ (‘dick’), ‘pizda’ (‘cunt’), ‘yebat’ (‘fuck’), and ‘blyad’ (‘whore’). Pizda has several derivatives such as ‘pizdets’ (‘deep shit,’ ‘absolute fail’), which is often used as an exclamation, and also means death or end of something. Pizdet is ‘to lie,’ ‘to say bull shit’; pizdit is ‘to steal’ or ‘to beat somebody’; spizdet is ‘to steal’ or ‘to snatch’; and ‘pizdaty’ means ‘pussy-like,’ ‘awesome,’ a superlative and/or admiring term that can be applied to any object or event. Lesser terms include: ‘mudak’ (‘stupid ass,’ literally ‘castrated piglet’), ‘mudilo’ (‘motherfucker’), and ‘mudya’ (‘testicles,’ rarely used and considered old-fashioned). Additionally, ‘suka’ (‘traitor,’ ‘rascal,’ ‘scumbag’; despite originally meaning ‘bitch’ or ‘female dog’) is a unisex term that has a dangerously pejorative connotation in the criminal world. The English word ‘bitch’ in reference to an unpleasant girl is more equivalent to the Russian term ‘sterva,’ which is a rude word but not a major profanity (accepted in written texts).

Additionally, many words are considered almost as offensive, and can also be regarded as mat such as ‘yelda’ (‘big dick’), ‘gondon’ (slang for ‘condom,’ but it is a tabooed word and may be used figuratively, as an insult, with the meaning ‘unpleasant male’), ‘kher’ (‘cock,’ somewhat less offensive than ‘khuy’; the actual meanings is the old Russian name of the letter ‘Х’ ‘Kha,’ which became strongly associated with a term akin to the ‘F-word’ in English — the old word ‘pokherit’ which used to mean ‘to cross out,’ ‘to delete,’ now tends to be contaminated with the relatively new meaning), kozyol (‘male-goat,’ very offensive address to a man with noticing his low social or criminal status and any kind of sexual deviation), ‘pidora’s’ (a bastardization of ‘pederast,’ meaning a homosexual male in Russian), ‘zalupa’ (‘penis head,’ from old Russian ‘to peel off egg shell’ [what you can see when the foreskin is pulled back] — ‘zalupatsia’ means ‘playing the great man, giving oneself airs’), ‘drochit’ (‘wank’), and ‘trakhat’ (‘to screw’ or ‘assault’).

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