Little by little

растерять definition

An interesting Russian word I learnt today is растерять [rəsʲtʲɪˈrʲætʲ], which means ‘to lose little by little, to be confused, to go missing. The first meaning comes from Wiktionary, but I can’t find any examples of it being used in that way.

It comes from the prefix рас- [rəs] &‎ терять [tʲɪˈrʲætʲ] (to lose, waste, shed).

Here are some examples of how it’s used:

  • В воде каждый может растеряться = Anyone can lose control in the water
  • Трудно тут не растеряться = It’s hard not to get rattled

Related words include:

  • теряться [tʲɪˈrʲat͡sːə] = to lose (one’s head, sight of, one’s way), get lost, disappear
  • потеряться [pətʲɪˈrʲat͡sːə] = to get lost, to be lost, to lose oneself
  • затеряться [zətʲɪˈrʲat͡sːə] = to go missing, disappear
  • растеряться [rəsʲtʲɪˈrʲat͡sːə] = to be confused, go missing
  • утерять [ʊtʲɪˈrʲætʲ] = lost

The adjective потерянный [pɐˈtʲerʲɪn(ː)ɨj] is used when an object is lost. It can also mean embarrassed, perplexed, hopeless or ruined. However, if a person is lost, пропавший [prɐˈpafʂɨj] is used, and also means missing, hopeless or long-lost.

There are probably other ways to talk about losing things, getting lost and being lost in Russian. What about in other languages?

Sources: Wiktionary, Reverso

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