Russian Word of the Day: подкладывать-to put under


This week’s theme of the week has been однокоренные слова (words from the same root).

The root of the week is -klad- meaning placement.

Под=under and клад=to put.

Mr Popper’s Penguins

This word has a couple of meanings. The first is the literal meaning of ‘to put something under something else’.  It can also mean ‘to pad’.

The topic of a question on a forum for mothers reads:

“Когда начать подкладывать ребенку подушку под голову?”

“When do you start putting a pillow under baby’s head?”

Подкладывать can also mean to put something somewhere stealthily.

“Тульским заключенным подкладывают наркотики в салаты, соусы и зубную пасту”

“Narcotics are being smuggled into Tula prisoners  in salads, sauces and toothpaste”.

Another slang meaning I found using the verb подкладывать is “подкладывать свинью”.  Literally, ‘to put a pig’ under someone. This means to pull one over on someone or to trick someone.

I haven’t seen the movie Mr. Popper’s Penguins  but the description of the movie is thus:

“Бывают времени, когда судьба порой подкладывают свинью. Но на этот раз, она решила подложить нечто другое.”

This is a  clever play on words.  Understanding that подкладывать свинью literally means to put the pig under someone but also means to play tricks we’ll try and translate it:

“There are times when fate puts the pig under you.  But this time fate put a little something different under you.” (hint: penguins).

Well, I’ll tell you about a personal experience I’ve had with today’s word.  From the verb подкладывать we can get an adjective подкладное which means something that you put under something else.  After my horrible appendectomy in Ukraine I came to know a thing called  a покладное судно.  A судно is a vessel.  So a vessel that you put under someone. Alright, I’ll just say it, it’s a bedpan. While unable to sit up or walk after my surgery  I had to use a bedpan and poor Pasha’s sister had to change it for me. But I can’t complain, at least nobody подкладывал мне наркотики в салат или пенгвинов в дом (was sneaking drugs in my salad or penguins in my house).

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