Горячий vs Жаркий: Are You Using the Right Word for “Hot” in Russian?

Russian has lots of cool words, but sometimes figuring out which one to use can be tricky. This article is here to help! We’ll be looking at two words that both mean “hot” in English: горячий and жаркий. Even though they seem the same, there’s a slight difference.

Let’s break it down so you can sound like a pro in Russian!

Горячий and Горячо

Горячий (gar-YAH-cheey) describes something with a high temperature that you can feel when you touch it. Think of a steaming cup of coffee or a freshly ironed shirt.

It is commonly used to describe hot objects, liquids, foods. For example:

  • горячая вода – hot water
  • горячий чай – hot tea
  • горячая сковорода – hot frying pan
  • горячий лоб – hot forehead (when a person has a fever)

Горячо is the adverbial form, meaning “hotly” or “in a hot manner.” It modifies verbs or expresses how an action is performed with intensity or fervor.

Ай! Горячо! – Ouch! It’s hot!

These words can also be used figuratively to indicate intensity or passion, such as:

горячий спор – A heated argument

горячо любить – To love passionately

Example sentences:

Осторожно, суп горячий! – Be careful, the soup is hot!

Она горячо спорила с ним о политике. – She was arguing passionately with him about politics.

As shown in these examples, горячий and горячо are used to describe intense heat, warmth, or fervor – whether literal or figurative. They convey a sense of high temperature or passionate intensity.

Difference between горячий and жаркий

See Also: 100 Common Russian Adjectives with Examples in Context

Жаркий and Жарко

Жаркий (ZHAR-keey) is a Russian adjective that means “hot” or “sweltering.” It refers specifically to high heat or warmth in the atmosphere or environment.

Жаркий is frequently used to describe hot weather, climates, or atmospheric temperatures. For example:

  • жаркий день – a hot day
  • жаркое лето – a sweltering summer
  • жаркий климат – a hot climate

It can also convey figurative meanings related to intensity, such as:

жаркий спор – heated debate

жаркие объятия – passionate embrace

Жарко is the adverbial form, meaning “hotly” in terms of atmospheric or environmental conditions being intensely warm or sultry.

Example sentences:

Сегодня на улице очень жарко. – It’s very hot outside today.

В пустыне днём очень жарко. – It’s extremely hot in the desert during the day.

Мне жарко, я хочу мороженое. – I’m hot, I want ice cream.

Воздух в комнате был невыносимо жарким. – The air in the room was unbearably hot.

Пляж был полон людей, и каждый искал укрытие от жаркого солнца. – The beach was crowded, and everyone was seeking shelter from the hot sun.

Во время жаркой летней ночи сложно уснуть. – It’s difficult to fall asleep during a hot summer night.

As these examples illustrate, жаркий and жарко relate specifically to intense heat or warmth in the atmosphere or environment, whether literal or used figuratively. They convey a sense of sweltering, sultry conditions.

See Also: Talking About the Weather in Russian

Key Differences and Overlap

The primary distinction between горячий and жаркий lies in the type of heat or warmth they describe.

Горячий relates to the inherent heat or high temperature of an object or substance. It is used to describe things that are hot to the touch or have been heated to a high degree, such as hot beverages, foods, or surfaces.

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In contrast, жаркий relates specifically to atmospheric or environmental heat. It describes hot weather, climates, or conditions where the air or surroundings are intensely warm or sweltering.

Sometimes the meanings of these words can overlap, especially when they are used figuratively. For example, as we already understood, a dispute can be described as both “горячий” and “жаркий”. The same goes for kisses – both “горячий” and “жаркий” can be appropriate as adjectives in this context.

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