Nadsat | A Clockwork Orange Dictionary

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Nadsat - The language of a Clockwork Orange

The science fiction novella, A Clockwork Orange, written in 1962, and set in a near dystopian future revolves around a violent youth subculture and specifically the delinquent 15 year old, Alex and his 'droogs' (friends), and his ultimate rehabilitation into society with the use of an experimental cure, after being arrested by the authorities. In keeping with the predeliction of youths for creating and using informal words and slang, the author and linguist, Anthony Burgess, felt it appropriate the protaganist of his story should also use a fictional vocabulary, and one which perhaps should alienate the A Clockwork Orange - book coverreader from feeling any affection or sympathy for him. And as the story is told by Alex, in the first person, it is littered with this confusing language throughout. That language was named Nadsat and, along with other informal affectations, such as the juvenile speak, is so widely used throughout the book that in order to enable the reader to easily understand the dialogue, a glossary, written by Stanley Edgar Hyman, was included as an appendix to most early printed editions. Interestingly, Anthony Burgess was against the inclusion of a glossary and refused to assist in compiling it, so consequently there are a few ommisions, mistakes and much speculation; Burgess himself wanted the reader to figure out the language whilst reading the book, and helped by including writing techniques to help with that understanding, for example, in the first few pages he occasionally includes a translation in brackets in the dialogue itself, sometimes in English and sometimes in Nadsat - see extract, below. A Clockwork Orange - book cover

More recent editions of the book have included alternative glossaries in an attempt to define Nadsat and thus chosen to exclude certain words, but they all have been criticised for failing in that task, and my less than academic approach and attempt is certainly no better. It is due to those ommisions I felt there was a need for an updated glossary/dictionary, viewable below, and which is based on the Hyman's original glossary, with the addition of Russian etymology, adapted from a later online glossary. The various words of Nadsat itself were frequently adapted from the Russian language, along with a smattering of made up words, some based on known English slang expressions, rhyming slang, and a few from other languages (German, Dutch, Malay, Romani) and where known I have added this information to the glossary, along with a little of my own speculation where necessary.

The film of the book, directed by Stanley Kubrick, was a very successful, if contentious production, starring Malcolm McDowell and released in 1971, it includes much of the Nadsat contained in the actual book. It's a good starting point for engaging with Nadsat if you find the book too difficult.

Below, in case you are new to the book, are the first two pages of A Clockwork Orange so that you might appreciate why a glossary was necessary, and after that a copy of the glossary itself.

An extract from A Clockwork Orange

"What's it going to be then, eh?"

There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim. Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry. The Korova Milkbar was a milk-plus mesto, and you may, O my brothers, have forgotten what these mestos were like, things changing so skorry these days and everybody very quick to forget, newspapers not being read much neither. Well, what they sold there was milk plus something else. They had no license for selling liquor, but there was no law yet against prodding some of the new veshches which they used to put into the old moloko, so you could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom or one or two other veshches which would give you a nice quiet horrorshow fifteen minutes admiring Bog And All His Holy Angels and Saints in your left shoe with lights bursting all over your mozg. Or you could peet milk with knives in it, as we used to say, and this would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of dirty twenty-to-one, and that was what we were peeting this evening I'm starting off the story with.

Our pockets were full of deng, so there was no real need from the point of view of crasting any more pretty polly to tolchock some old veck in an alley and viddy him swim in his blood while we counted the takings and divided by four, nor to do the ultra-violent on some shivering starry grey haired ptitsa in a shop and go smecking off with the till's guts. But, as they say, money isn't everything.

The four of us were dressed in the height of fashion, which in those days was a pair of black very tight tights with the old jelly mould, as we called it, fitting on the crotch underneath the tights, this being to protect and also a sort of a design you could viddy clear enough in a certain light, so that I had one in the shape of a spider, Pete had a rooker (a hand, that is), Georgie had a very fancy one of a flower, and poor old Dim had a very hound-and-horny one of a clown's litso (face, that is). Dim not ever having much of an idea of things and being, beyond all shadow of a doubting thomas, the dimmest of we four. Then we wore waisty jackets without lapels but with these very big built-up shoulders ('pletchoes' we called them) which were a kind of a mockery of having real shoulders like that. Then, my brothers, we had these off-white cravats which looked like whipped-up kartoffel or spud with a sort of a design made on it with a fork. We wore our hair not too long and we had flip horrorshow boots for kicking.

"What's it going to be then, eh?"

There were three devotchkas sitting at the counter all together, but there were four of us malchicks and it was usually like one for all and all for one. These sharps were dressed in the heighth of fashion too, with purple and green and orange wigs on their gullivers, each one not costing less than three or four weeks of those sharps' wages, I should reckon, and make-up to match (rainbows round the glazzies, that is, and the rot painted very wide). Then they had long black very straight dresses, and on the groody part of them they had little badges of like silver with different malchicks' names on them - Joe and Mike and suchlike.

Nadsat - the Glossary

Appypolly loggy Apology Juvenile speak
Baboochka Old woman Russian: babooshka (бабушка) /grandmother
Baddiwad Bad Juvenile speak
Banda Band Russian: banda (банда) /band, gang
Bezoomny Mad Russian: byezoomiyi (безумный) /mad, insane
Biblio Library Russian: biblioteka (библиотека) /library
Bitva Battle Russian: bitva (битва) /battle
Blub Cry, weep English slang
Bog God Russian: Bog (бог) /God
Bolnoy Sick Russian: bolnoy (больной) /sick
Bolshy Big Russian: bolshoy (большой) /big
Boomaboom Thunder Juvenile onomatopoeic invention
Boorjoyce Bourgeois Mispronunciation of bourgeois
Bratchny Bastard Russian: vnyebrachnyi (внебрачный) /illegitimate
Bratty Brother Russian: brat (брат) /brother
Britva Razor Russian: britva (бритва) /razor
Brooko Belly Russian: bryukho (брюхо) /abdomen
Brosay Throw Russian: brosat (бросать) /to throw
Bruiseboys Police officers, security guards Invented slang
Bugatty Rich Russian: bogaty (богатый) /wealthy
Cables Arteries, veins Invented slang
Caff Café Informal English
Cal Shit Russian: kal (кал) /excrement, faeces
Cancer Cigarette Standard slang term: ie. cancer stick
Cantora Office Russian: kontora (контора) /office
Carman Pocket Russian: karman (карман) /pocket
Chai Tea Russian: chai (чай) /tea. Cf. Informal English 'cha' /tea
Charlie, Charles Chaplain, priest A play on Charlie Chaplin
Chasha Cup Russian: chashka (чашка) /cup
Chasso Guard Russian: chasovoy (часовой) /sentry
Cheena Woman Russian: zhenshcheena (женщина) /woman
Cheest Wash Russian: cheestit (чистить) /to clean
Chelloveck Man, gentleman Russian: chelovyek (человек) /person, man
Chepooka Nonsense Russian: chyepookha (чепуха) /nonsense
Chinny Whiny Invented slang
Choodessny Wonderful Russian: choodesniyi (чудесный) /miraculous
Chumble Mumble Invented slang: combination of chatter + mumble?
Clop To knock German: klopfen /to hit
Dutch/Malay: kloppen /to hit
Cluve Beak Russian: klyuv (клюв) /beak
Collocol Bell Russian: kolokol (Колокол) /bell
Crappy Extremely poor quality English slang
Crark Yowl Invented slang: unknown
Crast Steal Russian: krast (красть) /steal. See 'shopcrasting'
Creech Scream Russian: kreechat (крича́ть) /scream
Cutter Money Invented slang: unknown
Dama Lady Russian: dama (дама) /lady
Decrep Old person Abbreviated form of decrepit
Ded Old man Russian: ded (дед) /old man, grandfather
Dedoochka Old man Russian: dedushka (дедушка) /grandfather
Deng Money Russian: dengi (деньги) /money
Devotchka Girl Russian: devochka (девочка) /girl
Disk-bootick Record/CD shop From boutique, store
Dobby Good Russian: dobro (добрый) /good, kind
Domy House Russian: dom (дом) /house
Abbreviated form of 'domicile'?
Dook Ghost Romani: dook /magic
Russian: dux (дух) /spirit, ghost
Dorogoy Valuable Russian: dorogoi (дорогой) /expensive, dear
Dratsing Fighting Russian: drat'sya (драться) /to tear, to kill, to fight
Drencrom A particular drug Invented name
Droog Friend Russian: drug (друг) /friend
Dung To defecate From 'dung', the excrement of animals
Dva Two Russian: dva (два) /two
Eegra Game Russian: igra (игра) /game
Eemya Name Russian: imya (имя) /name
Eggiweg Egg Juvenile speak
Em Mum Invented slang: the initial letter 'M' from 'mother'
Espresso rapido Train Invented slang: unknown
Eunoch jelly Feeble coward Invented slang: unknown
Evensong Evening Invented slang: evening prayer
Fagged (out) Tired English slang
Fashed Tired, upset Possibly from Scottish word, fash /annoyed, upset
Filly, also fillied, fillying To play, fool around, also played around, playing Invented slang: unknown
Filmdrome Cinema or theatre Invented slang, film / movie
Firegold A strong drink Invented slang, possibly from 'firewater'
Fist To punch, hit Invented slang
Flip Used as an intensifier Invented slang
Forella Trout Russian: forel (форель) /trout
German: forelle /trout
Dutch: forel /trout
Fuzzy Scratchy, unpleasant Invented slang
Gazetta Newspaper Russian: gazeta (газета) /newspaper
French: gazette /newspaper
Get Unpleasant, obnoxious person English slang, from 'git'
Glazz Eye Russian: glaz (глаз) /eye
Glazzies, glazzballs Eyes, and also used for nipples Russian: glaz (глаз) /eye
Gloopy Stupid Russian: glupiyi (глупый) /foolish, stupid
Godman Priest Invented slang: 'man of God'
Golly A coin, unit of money Invented slang: rhyming on 'lolly' (money in English slang)
Goloss Voice Russian: golos (голос) /voice
Goober Lip Russian: guba (губа) /lip
Gooly To walk Russian: gulyat (гулять) /to walk, stroll
Gorlo Throat Russian: gorlo (горло) /throat
Govoreet To speak or talk Russian: govorit (говорить) /to speak, talk
Grazhny Dirty Russian: gryuzniyi (грязный) /dirty
Grazzy Dirty, soiled Russian: gryuzniyi (грязный) /dirty
Gromky Loud Russian: gromkiy (громкий) /loud
Groody Breast Russian: grud (груди) /breast
Growling Great Invented slang?
Gruppa Group Russian: gruppa (группа) /group
Guff Laugh Abbreviated form of 'guffaw'
Gulliver Head Russian: golova (голова) /head
Guttiwuts Guts Juvenile speak
Hen-korm Insignificant amount of money, chickenfeed Invented slang: hen-corn
Possibly Russian: korm (корм) /animal feed
Hilly Excellent (Pre-teen expression) Invented slang
Horn To cry out Possibly the loud sound of a horn
Horrorshow Good, well Russian: khorosho (хорошо) /good, fine
Hound-and-horny corny Rhyming Slang: corny
In-out-in-out Sexual intercourse Invented slang
Interessovat To interest Russian: interesovat (интересовать) /to interest
Itty To go Russian: idti (идти) /to go
Jammiwam Jam, jelly (U.S.) Juvenile speak
Jeezny Life Russian: zhizn (жизнь) /life
Jelly Obnoxious, fat person? Invented slang
Jeezny Life Russian: zhizn (жизнь) /life
Kartoffel Potatoes German/Danish: kartoffel /potatoes
Russian: kartofel (картофель) /potatoes
Kashl The sound of a cough Russian: kasel (кашель) /cough
Keeshkas Guts Russian: kishka (кишка) /intestines, gut
Kleb Bread Russian: khleb (хлеб) /bread
Klootch Key Russian: klyuch (ключ) /key
Knives A type of drug Invented slang
Knopka Button Russian: knopka (кнопка) /push-button
Kopat Appreciate, like, 'dig' Russian: kopat (копать) /to dig
Korova Cow (the animal) Russian: korova (корова) /cow
Koshka Cat Russian: koshka (кошка) /cat
Kot Tomcat Russian: kot (кот) /cat
Krovvy Blood Russian: krov (кровь) /blood
Kupet To buy Russian: kupit (купить) /to buy
Lapa Paw Russian: lapa (лапа) /paw
Lewdies People Russian: lyudi (люди) /people, humans
Lighter Crone, old woman Invented slang, possibly from English slang 'blighter'.
Litso Face Russian: litso (лицо) /face
Lomtick A bit, a piece Russian: lomtik (ломтик) /a slice
Loveted Caught Russian: lovit (ловить) /to catch
Lubbilubbing Making love, kissing Russian: lyublyu (люблю) /love
Luscious glory Hair Possibly from crowning glory /hair
Malchick Boy Russian: malchik (мальчик) /boy
Malenky Little Russian: malenkiy (маленький) /small
Mappy Wrinkled Invented slang, from lines on skin resembling a map
Maskie A mask Extension of word mask
Maslo Butter Russian: maslo (масло) /butter
Merzky Filthy Russian: merzkiyi (мерзкий) /disgusting, vile
Messel Thought Russian: mysl (мысль) /thought
Mesto Place Russian: mesto (место) /place
Millicent Policeman Russian: militsiya (милиция) /police, militia
Minoota Minute Russian: minuta (минута) /minute
Molodoy Young Russian: molodoy (молодой) /young
Moloko Milk Russian: moloko (молоко) /milk
Moloko plus Milk with the addition of drugs See 'moloko'
Moodge Man Russian: muzh (муж) /husband
Morder Snout, nose Russian: morda (морда) /snout, muzzle
Mounch Snack Invented slang, possibly from 'munch'
Mozg Brain Russian: mozg (мозг) /brain
Munchy-wunching Munching, eating Juvenile speak
Nachinat To start Russian: nachinat (начинать) /to start
Nadmenny Arrogant Russian: nadmennyi (надменный) /arrogant
Nadsat Teenage Russian: nadcat (надцать) /literally the suffix for the numbers 11-19, (English equivalent of 'teen')
Nagoy Naked Russian: nagoi (нагой) /naked
Nazz Fool Russian: nazad (назад) /literally backwards, astern, rearwards (adv.)
Neezhnies Underpants Russian: nizhneye (нижнее) /lower (adjective)
nizhneye bel'ye (нижнее бельё) / underwear
Nochy Night Russian: noch (ночь) /night
Nogas Feet, legs Russian: noga (нога) /foot
Nozh Knife Russian: nozh (нож) /knife
Nuking Smelling (of scent) Russian: nyukhat (нюхать) /to smell, detect an odour
Oddy-knocky On one's own Russian: odinokiy (одинокий) /lonesome
Odin One Russian: odin (один) /one
Okno Window Russian: okno (окно) /window
Oobivat To Kill Russian: ubivat (убивать) /to kill
Ookadeet To leave Russian: ukhodit (уходить) /to leave
Ooko Ear Russian: ukho (ухо) /ear
Oomny Clever Russian: umnyi (умный) /clever
Oozhassny Terrible Russian: uzhasnyy (ужасный) /terrible
Oozy Chain Russian: uzy (узы) /shackles, bonds
Orange Man Malay: Orang /Man, cf. Orang Utan (man of the forest)
Osoosh To dry, to wipe Russian: osushat (осушать) /to dry
Otchkies Eyeglasses, spectacles Russian: otchki (очки) /glasses
Pan-handle Erection Invented slang
Pee and em Father and mother Invented slang, from 'P and M', the initial letters of 'Papa and mama', 'pater and mater'.
Peet To drink Russian: pit (пить) /to drink
Pishcha Food Russian: pishcha (пища) /food
Platch To cry Russian: plach (плач) /to cry
Platties Clothes Russian: plat'ye (платье) /clothes
See 'unplattied'
Plenny Prisoner Russian: plennyy (пленный) /captive
Plesk Splash Russian: plesk (плеск) /to splash
Pletcho Shoulder Russian: plecho (плечо) /shoulder
Plosh Splash Invented slang - onomatopoeic
Plott Body Russian: plot (плоть) /flesh
Podooshka Pillow Russian: podushka (подушка) /pillow
Pol Sex Russian: pol (пол) /sex, gender
Polezny Useful Russian: poleznyy (полезный) /useful
Polyclef Skeleton key English: poly (suffix) /many
French: clef /key
Pony To understand Russian: ponimat (понимать) /to understand
Poogly Scared, frightened Russian: puglivyy (пугливый) /fearful
Pooshka Gun Russian: pushka (пушка) /gun
Pop-disk Music disc Invented slang from pop /popular music, and disc /music format, i.e. record, CD etc
Portwine A drunk, alcoholic Invented slang
Prestoopnik Criminal, felon Russian: prestupnik (преступник) /criminal
Pretty Polly Money Rhyming slang: Derived from 'lolly' (money in English slang)
Privodeet To lead somewhere Russian: privodit (приводить) /to lead (somewhere)
Prod To produce Invented slang: abbreviated form of 'produce'
Ptitsa Girl Russian: ptitsa (птица) /bird. 'Bird', common English slang for a girl or woman
Punchipunching Punching Juvenile speak
Pusspot Cat Invented slang, from pussy /cat
Pyahnitsa Drunk Russian: pyanitsa (пьяница) /a drunkard
Rabbit, also rabbitting, rabbiters Work, also working, workers Russian: rabota (работа) /work
Radosty Joy Russian: radost (радость) /joy
Raskazz Story Russian: rasskaz (рассказ) /story
Rasoodock Mind Russian: rassudok (рассудок) /sanity, common sense
Raz Time Russian: raz (раз) /occasion, time
Razdrez Upset, angry Russian: razdrazhat (раздражать) /to irritate
Razrez To rip Russian: razrez (разрез) / cut
Rooker, also rookerful Hand, arm, also handful Russian: ruka (руки) /hand
Rot Mouth Russian: rot (рот) /mouth
Rozz, also rozzes Policeman, also police Likely an abbreviated form of 'rozzer', UK slang for a policeman
Russian: rozha /ugly face or grimace
Rozz-shop Police station See rozz. Cf. British slang 'cop-shop'
Sabog Shoe French: sabot /a type of shoe, a clog
Possibly Russian: sapog /a tall shoe
Sakar Sugar Russian: sakhar (сахар) /sugar
Sammy Generous Possibly from 'good samaritan' /biblical story
Sarky Sarcastic English slang - a shortening of 'sarcastic'.
Scoteena Beast, cow Russian: skotina (скотина) /brute, cattle
Shagged Tired, exhausted English slang
Shaika Gang Russian: shaika (шайка) /band (as of thieves)
Sharp Female Possibly rhyming slang, 'sharp and blunt', meaning cunt
Sharries Buttocks Russian: shary (шары) /balls, possibly the rounded globes of the buttocks
Shest Pole, barrier Russian: shest (шест) /pole
Shilarny Concern Invented slang: unknown, however it sounds Irish
Shive Slice, cut English slang: shiv /a knife
Shiyah Neck Russian: sheya (шея) /neck
Shlaga Club, cudgel German: Schläger /bat, club
Shlapa Hat Russian: shlyapa (шляпа) /hat
Shlem Helmet Russian: shlem (шлем) /helmet
Shoom Noise Russian: shum (шум) /noise
Shoomny Loud, noisy Russian: shum (шум) /noise
Shoot A fool, stupid person Russian: shut (шут) /a fool
Shopcrasting Stealing Invented slang: see 'crast'
Sinny Movies, film Invented slang: from cinema
Skazat To say Russian: skazat' (сказать) /to say, tell
Skitebird Pervert Invented slang: unknown
Skolliwoll School Probably juvenile speak, but consider...
Russian: shkola (школа) /school
Skorry Quick, quickly Russian: skoryy (скорый) /fast
Skriking Scratching Invented slang: strike + scratch?
Skvat To grab, snatch Russian: skhvatit (схватить) /to grab
Skvatted Grabbed, took Russian: skhvatilsya (схватился) /grabbed
Sladky Sweet Russian: sladkiyi (сладкий) /sweet
Sloochat, also sloochatted, sloochatting Happen, also happened, happening Russian: sluchatsya (случаться) /to happen.
Slooshy, also slooshied, slooshying Hear, also heard, hearing Russian: slushat (слушать) /to listen
Slovo Word Russian: slovo (слово) /word
Smeck Laugh Russian: smekh (смех) /laughter
Smot, also smotting Look, also looking Russian: smotret (смотреть) /to look
Sneety Dream Russian: snitsya (сниться) /to dream
Snoutie Tobacco, snuff English slang 'snout', meaning tobacco or cigarette
Snuff it To die English slang.
Snug A small, comfortable public room in a pub British English.
Sobiratted Picked up Russian: sobirat (собирать) /to collect, gather
Sod Contemptible person English slang, from 'sodomite'
Sodding Used as an intensifier, such as 'fucking' English slang, from 'sodomy'
Soomka Woman Russian: sumka (сумка) /bag. Cf. English slang 'old bag' /old woman
Sophisto Sophisticated person Invented slang: abbreviated form of sophisticate
Soviet Advice Russian: sovet (совет) /advice, council
Spatchka Sleep Russian: spat (спать) /to sleep
Spoogy Terrified Russian: ispugannyy (испуганный) /scared
Spuddy Ugly Invented slang: from English slang 'spud ugly'
Staja Prison Invented slang: possibly from State + Jail
Starry Old, ancient Russian: staryy (старый) /old
Stoolies Chairs Russian: stul (стул) /chair
Juvenile extension of stool, a seat without back or arms
Strack Horror Russian: strakh (страх) /fear
Stripey-hole Prison Invented slang: possibly from the striped uniforms once warn by inmates
Swoony Excellent (Pre-teen expression) Invented slang: unknown
Synthmesc A particular drug Invented slang: combination of words 'synthetic mescaline'
Tally Waist Russian: taliya (талия) /waist
Tashtook Handkerchief German: Taschentuch /Hankerchief
Tass Cup French: tasse /cup
German: tasse /cup
Tick-tocker The heart Invented slang, from informal English, 'ticker' /heart
Ticklewickled Cut, grazed Invented slang: juvenile unknown
Thundery Angry Invented slang, from thunder traditionally being associated with anger
Thunderbolted Angry See 'thundery'
Tolchock To hit, push Russian: tolchok (толчок) /a push, shove
Toofles Slippers Russian: tufli (туфли) /shoes
Tree Three Russian: tri (три) /three
Turnitoe Style of dance Invented slang: unknown
Twenty-to-one Violence Invented slang: unknown
Unplattied Undressed See 'platties'.
Vareeting Cooking, happening Russian: varit (варить) /to cook
Vaysay Bathroom, toilet, washroom French pronunciation of W.C. /watercloset
Veck Guy Russian: chelovek (человек) /person, man
Vellocet A particular drug Invented slang: Amphetamine, Cocaine?
Veshch Thing Russian: veshch (вещь) /thing
Viddy To see Russian: videt (видеть) /to see
Voloss Hair Russian: volos (волос) /hair
Also vonny
A smell (noun)
Russian: von (вонь) /stink
Vred To harm Russian: vred (вред) /to harm
Warble Song English: sing, a bird's song
Yahma Anus, arsehole Russian: yama (яма) /hole, pit
Yahoody Jew Arabic: yahudi /Jews
Hebrew: yehudi /Jewish, Jew
Yahzick Tongue Russian: yazyk (язык) /tongue
Yarbles Balls (expletive), also testicles Russian: yarbloko (яблоко) /apples
Yarblockos Balls (expletive) Russian: yarbloko (яблоко) /apples
Yeckated Drove Russian: yekat (ехать) /to go, to drive
Zammechat Remarkable Russian: zamechatelno (замечательно) /wonderful
Zasnoot To sleep Russian: zasnut (заснуть) /to fall asleep
Zheena Wife Russian: zhena (жена) /wife
Zoobies Teeth Russian: zuby (зубы) /teeth
Zvonock Doorbell Russian: zvonok (звонок) /doorbell
Zvook Sound Russian: zvuk (звук) /sound

The inspiration for the Nadsat dictionary listings on this page was a website titled 'Nadsat: A Clockwork Orange Dictionary', hosted on Geocities (Yahoo), and dating from before the year 2000, although from what I recall it was mainly an online version of the glossary from the book, however my thanks go to that website for that initial inspiration.

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