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  • Writer's pictureOlga Jarrell

WORD OF THE DAY: заби́ть

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

The inspiration for writing about this word came from one of my student’s questions: "What will it be in Russian if I need to say ‘save a place'?” Well, there is an interesting verb with multiple meanings "забива́ть/заби́ть" that could be used to convey this English expression; however, let’s take a look at the primary or standard meanings of the word first.

The verb "забива́ть/заби́ть" originated from the verb "бить" (to beat). The prefix “за” adds the meaning of beginning something. Therefore, it means “to start beating”. The “beating” connotation appears in some of the literal meanings of the verb.

1) to nail something in

забива́ть/заби́ть гвоздь в сте́ну = to hammer a nail into a wall

  • Мне ну́жно заби́ть гвоздь в сте́ну, хочу́ пове́сить карти́ну. = I have to hammer a nail into the wall. I want to hand a picture.

The nailing might be figurative, in a way in the expression “заби́ть ме́сто” (to save or reserve a place/sport)

  • Забе́й мне ме́сто на собра́нии, я немно́го опозда́ю. = Could you save a place for me, please? I’ll be a little late.

  • Забива́йте места́, пока́ не по́здно, а то стоя́ть придётся. = Reserve spots until it is late. Otherwise, you will be standing.

2) to score a goal in sports

заби́ть гол /ша́йбу/ мяч = to score a goal, (shoot a puck, a ball)

  • На́ша кома́нда заби́ла гол. = Our team scored a goal.

Here are the most interesting meanings of this verb – slang and jargon expressions. They are helpful in a number of everyday situations. However, if you are not careful, they can lead you in trouble, too.

3) to decide not to do something (slang)

  • Не хочу́ я сего́дня ничего́ де́лать. Дава́й забьём! = I don’t want to do anything today. Let’s not do it.

  • Дава́й забьём на э́то де́ло! = Let’s forget about this thing and not do it! (can be applied to all the things you do not feel like doing)

4) to forget about something; to stop thinking about something; to ignore; not to worry (slang) - usually used in the imperative form - Забе́й!

  • Переста́нь ты ду́мать об экза́мене! Забе́й! = Stop thinking about the exam! Forget about it!

  • Да ла́дно, забе́й! = Come on! Forget about it!

  • Забе́й на все! = Forget about everything!

  • Забе́й на э́то де́ло! = Forget about it!

5) to arrange a meeting (sometimes in order to fight) - заби́ть стре́лку (jargon; literally: to nail an arrow)

  • Ну что, дава́й забьём стре́лку! = Let’s meet.

  • Я хочу́ заби́ть ей стре́лку. = I want to invite her for a date.

6) completely full of something - заби́т /заби́та /заби́то/заби́ты (short-term adjective from заби́тый) =

  • У меня́ весь шкаф заби́т, а наде́ть не́чего. = My closet is full, but there is nothing to wear.

заби́т (чем?) – Sometimes requires the instrumental case after the adjective.

  • Шкаф заби́т кни́гами = The bookcase is full of books.

  • Холоди́льник заби́т проду́ктами = The fridge is stuffed with products.

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