Штурмовщина (Šturmovščina / Shturmovshchina) is a useful Russian word I came across in Mark Forsyth’s The Horologicon – A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Word of the English Language, which I got for Christmas. It means last-minute rush and refers to the practice of working frantically to fulfill production targets in factories at the end of each month when materials finally arrived, or if they didn’t arrive people used whatever was to hand to produce the required goods. This often resulted in shoddy products and was apparently a common practice in the Soviet Union. Similar practises were common in construction.

The word штурм (šturm) means storm or conquest, and штурмовать (šturmovat’) means to storm or conquer, so штурмовщина is all about storming and conquering those deadlines. It is also defined as “short bursts of extremely intense work after procrastination”, and possibly results from the relatively short growing season in Russia, which meant that most of the agricultural work had to be done quickly and intensively over the summer. The rest of the time the peasants could idle, contemplate and philosophise [source].

More interesting words are discussed in the book, and on the blog Inky Fool.

Do you leave everything to the last minute and then attack it in a fit of shturmovshchina, or are you more organised?

I have been known to leave things until the last minute, though try not to do it too often.

This entry was posted in English, Language, Russian, Words and phrases.

2 Responses to Штурмовщина

  1. Lev says:

    In hi-tec, we sometimes do the same in Decembers.

  2. prase says:

    I have always thought that штурм had been borrowed from German as a military term, given how much the word was used by the German military. Sturmgeschütz, Sturmgewehr, Sturmabteilung, Volkssturm …

    By the way, I very dislike your spam filter, but I surely have said that before.

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