Russian Word of the Day: Свеча -candle, suppository


свечка-svYEchka (the ‘k’ makes it diminutive)

I’ve long known the word свеча or свечка as candle but the second meaning I learned last fall while in Kiev.

This is like children’s Tylenol but it’s in the form of ректальные суппозитории (rectal suppositories, the medical terminology for свечки)

My friend Katya works as a pediatrician in Kiev.  Her little boy, Bogdan, was starting to get sick with something.  I heard her tell Bogdan, “Иди сюда, надо свечку тебе поставить” (come here we need to give you a suppository). Bogdan immediately started screaming and tried to run away.  Katya had me help her hold him down while she поставила свечечку в его попку (put the little suppository in his little bum).

My experience with suppositories was only for childhood constipation but I guess these suppositories contained medicine that dissolves in their system.  Katya said it would help Bogdan with his cold.  She was so surprised that I didn’t know what a свечка was.  She asked, “Well, how do you give kids medicine in America?” And I said, “With a spoon to the mouth”.  I explained that we make our medicine sugary and delicious so it’s a little easier to coax children into taking it.

So there you have it.  Свечка/свеча means both candle or a suppository.  If someone comes up to you and asks is you want a свеча, you might want to make sure you know which kind they have in mind before agreeing.

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