Anyone who begins studying Russian might come across the word for beard (борода) fairly early on (after all, everyone knows at least two things about Russia: bears and beards* (I won’t be so vulgar as to say vodka)). And it is obvious that if you want to tell your friend Egor, who is, naturally, sporting a beard, that he’s got a huge Siberian mosquito attacking his chin, you’ll say, “Hey, Egor! You’ve got a huge Siberian mosquito under your beard!” Thus was born the word for chin: подбородок, that is, под (meaning “under”) + борода.

By the way, if you didn’t notice, под is a preposition, though it is also a verbal prefix. So it’s versatile. Here’s a nice little sentence to help you remember its uses: Он подложил подушку под подбородок (He placed a pillow under his chin).

Here’s a rhyme about a beard that you can tease your friends with:

Как по речке, по реке Along the river
Ехал рыжий на быке. Rode a red-head on a bull
Рыжий красного спросил: Red-head asked red (man)
— Чем ты бороду красил? What did you color your beard with?
Я не краской, не помазкой, Not with paint nor with a brush;
Я на солнышке лежал, I laid in the sun
Кверху бороду держал. And held my beard up.

So, I also promised that I would talk about beer in this episode. The Russian word for beer is пиво. It comes from the verb пить (пити), to drink, and originally simply meant a beverage. It is, for instance, still used in modern Church Slavonic in canticle three of the Paschal Canon: Пріидите пиво піемъ новое (Come, let us drink a new drink). It is closely related to the word пир (feast (of food)), which also came from the verb пить, and, thus, пиво came to be used as the drink imbibed at such feasts, which perhaps was a little spirituous.

*Note: Some may argue differently, but in my observation, beards are really not all that popular in Russia as they traditionally were. Although maybe there still are beard fanatics, such as myself, who would be willing to pay the beard tax again…

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