Using The Russian Dictionary Tree

Tip: If all or some of the Russian text isn't displayed correctly, read Russian Fonts, below.

Symbols and Numerals
Stress Pattern Codes
Columns and Rows
Russian Fonts
Typing Russian
Dictionary Overview

A., Acc. Accusative case
adj. adjective
adv. adverb
anim. animate
colloq. colloquial
compar. comparative
D., Dat. Dative case
E End stress feminine animate feminine inanimate
fem. feminine
G., Gen. Genitive case
I., Inst. Instrumental case
Impf. Imperfective aspect
inan. inanimate
Inst. Instrumental case
intrans. intransitive
Irreg. Irregular
Loc. Locative case masculine animate masculine inanimate
M Moving stress
masc. masculine
N., Nom. Nominative case neuter animate neuter inanimate
neut. neuter
Nom. Nominative case
P., Prep. Prepositional case
Part. Partitive case
Pf. Perfective aspect
Plur. Plural
ppp past passive participle
Prep. Prepositional case
prep. preposition
pres. present
ptcpl. participle
S Stem stress
Sg. Singular
sh. short form (of an adjective)
smb. somebody
smt. something

Symbols and Numerals
! Singular and Plural Imperatives
[ ... ] variant forms
( ... ) parentheses enclosing an inserted vowel
acute accent, e.g. ђ indicates primary stress
grave accent, e.g. Ѓ indicates secondary stress
two acute accents within a word indicate variant stress
# zero ending
1Sg first person Singular
1Plur first person Plural
2Sg second person Singular
2Plur second person Plural
3Sg third person Singular
3Plur third person Plural

Stress Pattern Codes
The English capital letters after the headword tell you what stress pattern the word has.

E = End stress
S = Stem stress
M = Moving stress

The meaning of these codes is somewhat different for nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

Stress Patterns for Nouns
The first capital letter tells you where the stress falls in the Singular forms; the second letter tells you where the stress falls in the Plural forms. In cases where End stress would fall on the zero ending, stress falls on the preceding syllable.

стћл EE
стћл, стћл, столђ, столљ, столџ, столћм
столІ, столІ, столћв, столђх, столђм, столђми
зљркало SE
зљркало, зљркало, зљркала, зљркале, зљркалу, зљркалом
зеркалђ, зеркалђ, зеркђл, зеркалђх, зеркалђм, зеркалђми

Stress Patterns for Adjectives
The one capital letter after an adjective headword tells you where the stress falls in the short forms and in the comparative form. (Long forms never shift stress; all long forms are stressed on the same syllable as the headword, so no stress code is required.) In cases where End stress would fall on the zero ending (masculine), stress falls on the preceding syllable. Moving stress in the case of adjectives means: stress "moves" from the stem to the feminine ending.

The stress rule for the comparative is two-fold:

(1) If the adjective stem ends in a velar consonant (к г х), the ending will be -е and the immediately preceding syllable will be stressed, no matter what the stress code is (see жђркий - жђрче, below).
(2) Otherwise, if any short form is stressed on the ending, either obligatorily or optionally, then stress will fall on the comparative ending -ље; conversely, if no short endings are ever stressed, then the ending -ее is unstressed.

сурћвый S
сурћв, сурћва, сурћво, сурћвы, сурћвее
мќрный S [or M]
мќрен, мќрнђ, мќрно, мќрны, мирнље
живћй M
жќв, живђ, жќво, жќвы, живље
горїчий E
горїч, горячђ, горячћ, горячќ, горячље

Stress Patterns for Verbs
The first English capital letter after the infinitive tells you where the stress falls in the Non-past forms; the second letter tells you where the stress falls in the Past forms. In cases where End stress would fall on the zero ending, stress falls on the preceding syllable.

Moving stress in the case of past tense forms means the same thing it does for short adjectives: stress "moves" from the stem to the feminine ending.

For non-past forms Moving stress means that the stress "moves" from the stem to the First Person Singular ending.

Stem stress generally means that the stress falls on the same stem syllable as it does in the headword (infinitive). But sometimes the stressed syllable of the infinitive doesn't show up in the Non-past or Past; in such cases, stress falls on the last syllable of the stem.

рисовђть SS
рисџют; рисовђл, рисовђла, рисовђло, рисовђли
прийтќ EE
придџт; пришёл, пришлђ, пришлћ, пришлќ
вестќсь EE
ведџтся; вёлся, велђсь, велћсь, велќсь
бІть SM
бџдут; бІл, былђ, бІло, бІли
писђть MS
пишџ, пќшешь, пќшет, пќшем, пќшете, пќшут; писђл, писђла, писђло, писђли

Columns and Rows
The placement of word forms in the Morphology section is different for nouns, adjectives, and verbs. The Morphology section is present in most entries in The Tree.

NPlur APlur GPlur PPlur DPlur IPlur

If one of the lines is missing, then the forms that would have been in that line are not used.

Masc: NSg ASg GSg PSg DSg ISg
Neut: NSg ASg GSg PSg DSg ISg
Fem: NSg ASg GSg PSg DSg ISg
Plur: NPlur APlur GPlur PPlur DPlur IPlur

sh.masc., sh.fem., sh.neut./adv., sh.plur., compar.

If some of the forms are missing, then these forms are not used.

1Sg 1Plur ImperSg PastMasc PresAdv PastAdv
2Sg 2Plur ImperPlur PastFem PresActPtcpl PastActPtcpl
3Sg 3Plur   PastPlur/Neut PresPassPtcpl PastPassPtcpl

If some of the forms are missing, then these forms are not used, although theoretically they exist. If some of the forms are replaced with long dashes, then these forms do not exist and cannot be produced at all.

Russian Fonts

Most modern computers come with standard Cyrillic fonts pre-installed, but those fonts do not include accented vowels (for marking primary and secondary word stress). All pages in this dictionary use accented vowels. Modern browsers should automatically download and use our custom font when displaying these pages unless you have changed your browser's default setting that allows Web pages to specify their own fonts.

Typing Russian
You can type English words and find their Russian equivalents in the RDT, but because the RDT is a learner's (not a translator's) dictionary, most often you'll want to type a Russian word. Use the Russian keyboard provided with Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X to type Russian. In Windows, you may need to activate it using Regional Settings in Control Panel. In Mac OS X, use the International control panel in System Properties. You may also use our click-on pop-up keyboard (next to the search target field at the bottom of the RDT window).

Note that when you use a browser to visit an RDT page, the page automatically activates the browser's UTF-8 (Unicode) encoding. If something doesn't look right, check to see if the browser's Options or Preferences are configured correctly to use our font for this encoding (as well as for the Cyrillic encoding). When a dictionary page is displayed, you can see the current encoding in the browser's View menu.

In 2008 the RDT was tested with Internet Explorer 6 and 7 (Windows XP and Vista), Firefox 1.5, 2, and 3 (Windows XP and Vista as well as Mac OS X), and Safari 2 and 3 (Mac OS). In 2010 it was tested with Internet Explorer 8 (Windows 7) and contemporary versions of Firefox (Windows and Mac OS X) and Safari (Mac OS X). In 2013 it was tested with Safari 5, IE 9 and 10, Chrome 23, and several versions of Opera on desktop computers as well as in several browsers in Android and iOS tablets (in addition to Mac OS X Mountain Lion and Windows 8). If you run into a browser that has trouble with the RDT, please let us know.

Dictionary Overview
The Russian Dictionary Tree is a computer-based, on-screen dictionary of contemporary Russian with English definitions, glosses and comments. It is a reference and learning tool for all users of Russian, from a student with only basic knowledge of the language to an individual proficient enough to write in Russian. It is called a "tree" because its entries have a tree-like, branching structure.

The present edition contains over 17,000 entries. An entry is one meaning of a Russian word. When compiling the original wordlist for this dictionary in 1987, we started by combining the active vocabularies of the seven elementary Russian textbooks that were used in most American schools at the time. We then expanded it slightly to make sure that all of the 500 most commonly used Russian words were represented. Many more entries were then added because of various linguistic considerations.

One set of additions was made on the basis of homonymy; for example, the word пешка was entrered twice, once as an inanimate noun, once as animate, being homonymous in all but the Accusative Plural form. Another set of additions was made on the basis of matching the nationality names and names of occupation for both of the sexes.

We felt that the latter was an especially important task, since in Russian there are three different situations in that respect; some professions use the masculine form for both sexes (e.g. профессор), other professions have a specific word that is used for each sex (актёр, актриса), and some have two different words, but one of them is stylistically different from the other, e.g. кассир (man or woman), кассќрша (woman only, somewhat pejorative and colloquial).

The greatest number of additions was made on the basis of aspect partners; we have listed considerably more partners than the textbooks do. Some minor semantic classes were filled out for the sake of completeness, and many words were added because they happened to occur in some of the popular Russian texts that our beginning and early intermediate students were reading. In 2006-2008 this dictionary was expanded to include over five thousand additional entries for the DVD-ROM by Sophia Lubensky, Irina Odintsova, and Slava Paperno called Advanced Russian: From Reading to Speaking (available from the publisher, see below).

The Russian Dictionary Tree is not an abridged version of a printed dictionary: it was created as an on-screen reference source and designed to fully use the advantages of the electronic medium. If printed in a book format, this edition of The Tree would have occupied at least a thousand pages. In most entries, the user will find lexicographical information compiled from many sources. Many entries contain information not usually included in dictionaries, such as combinatorial and sociolinguistic information.

Even though one can look up many English words, The Tree is not an English-Russian dictionary. The English-to-Russian component merely provides the user with an English index to the Russian entries. The difference is an important one. All Russian entries are semantically complete. That is, if a Russian word is listed, the viewer will see all of its meanings defined, glossed, and often commented on. Only the most obscure or technical meanings have been left out. This is not so with the English word list. Since English words are merely glosses for Russian headwords, a meaning will be absent when no Russian entry requires its presence.

You're reading the on-line version of the dictionary that is made available on the Internet by the Russian Language Program's Web server at Cornell University. A stand-alone version that does not require an Internet connection is available from Lexicon Bridge Publishers.


For definitions, we used:
Академия наук СССР. Институт русского языка. 1981 - 84. «Словарь русского языка в четырех томах.» Главный редактор второго издания, А. П. Евгеньева. Издание второе, исправленное и дополненное. Москва: Издательство «Русский язык».
Академия наук СССР. Институт русского языка (тома 1, 8 - 17). Институт языкознания (тома 2 - 7). 1950 - 65. «Словарь современного русского литературного языка в семнадцати томах.» Главный редактор В. И. Чернышев. Тома 1 - 15, Москва; Ленинград: Издательство Академии наук СССР, 1950 - 63; тома 16 - 17, Москва; Ленинград: Издательство «Наука», 1964 - 65.

For phonetic information, we used:
Академия наук СССР. Институт русского языка. 1983. «Орфоэпический словарь русского языка: произношение, ударение, грамматические формы.» Под редакцией Р. И. Аванесова. Авторы: С. Н. Борунова, В. Л. Воронцова, Н. А. Еськова. Москва: Издательство «Русский язык».

For morphological information, we used:
Зализняк, А. А. 1987. «Грамматический словарь русского языка. Словоизменение.» Издание третье, стереотипное. Москва: Издательство «Русский язык».

For verb government information, we used:
Apreszjan, J. D., E. Pђll. 1982. Orosz ige - magyar ige: Vonzatok љs kapcsolћdђsok «Русский глагол - венгерский глагол: управление и сочетаемость.» I-II kotet. Budapest: Tankonyvkiadћ.

For American English usage, we used:
Flexner, S. B. and L. C. Hauck, editors. 1987. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language. Second edition, unabridged. New York: Random House.
Berube, M. S. and P. B. DeVinne, editors. 1985. The American Heritage Dictionary. Second college edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

For English glosses, we used:
Katzner, K. 1984. English-Russian, Russian-English Dictionary. Chichester; New York; Brisbane; Toronto; Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. (A Wiley-Interscience Publication.)
Wheeler, M. 1972. The Oxford Russian-English Dictionary. General editor, B. O. Unbegaun, with the assistance of D. P. Costello and W. F. Ryan. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Many online sources were used when adding newer vocabulary items.

When the Russian Dictionary Project began in 1987 in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Cornell University, 5000 Russian Words With All Their Inflected Forms and Other Grammatical Information (Slavica Publishers) by Richard L. Leed and Slava Paperno served as the base for The Russian Dictionary Tree. Clifford Flamm, Linda Flamm, Richard L. Leed, and Slava Paperno spent the summer of 1989 formulating the organizational principles for the new computer-based dictionary. In the course of the following year, most definitions were rewritten, and many new entries were added to the original five thousand. Carla Gordon worked on the nouns, Nina Katz and Carol Clark on the adjectives, and Jean MacKenzie, Lesli LaRocco, Carla Gordon, and Kevin McKelvey worked on the verbs. Michael Harum, who joined the project in 1992, worked on a number of idiomatic expressions.

Carol Clark, Boris Stremlin, Tamiko Toland, and Ludmilla Volnova helped us in the herculean task of proofreading. We are also grateful to our early typists who mastered bilingual word processing when it was a rare skill: Reef Altoma, Galina Atlas, Heather Behn, and Jill Castleman. We also greatly appreciate the many comments generously offered by Sophia Lubensky while the dictionary was being expanded for Advanced Russian: From Reading to Speaking in 2006-2008.

Peter Cassetta of Fingertip Software ( wrote the software for the first standalone version of The Tree for Microsoft Windows. The current disc-based version for Windows and Mac OS is available from Lexicon Bridge Publishers.

The Russian Dictionary Project was supported by funds generously contributed by the National Security Agency and The Consortium for Lanuage Teaching and Learning. The 2006-2008 expansion was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.