The following bilingual Russian MiniLesson is meant to build your vocabulary by providing Russian phrases within English text. Hover over the bold Russian to reveal its English translation.
Russian has several words related to “девушка” which can all mean “girl” with varying connotations. For example, “девочка”, a diminutive form, would indicate a very young girl. “Девкa” is another derivative of the word, but a not wholly pleasant one, implying “wench” or even “harlot.” In modern slang, the plural forms “девчата” and “девчонки” are used in familiar cases between friends, but we don’t recommend trying to use them as they can also be quite offensive.
The word “девушка” also carries the extra meaning of “ma’am” in restaurant and other service settings; it is customary to call официантки by this title. A male server is commonly called “молодой человек”. These titles can be applied no matter the true age of the server and with no negative connotation.