What does it mean, to take someone under the arm (pod ruchku)Russian expression “pod ruchku” (“under the arm”) doesn’t mean that someone is being protected or looked after. It means that two people are walking or standing next to each other while one is resting her wrist on the other person’s forearm.

What “pod ruchku” means

Instead of holding hands, this is how grownups in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries of the former Soviet Union walk together. This gesture is less intimate than holding hands, as the palms don’t touch. Usually there is no skin contact. This is why even acquaintances may choose this connection when walking together.

“Holding someone’s under the arm” allows a person to have a point of support, which is useful, especially if it’s slippery, such as during the frosty Russian winter.

Normally it will be the woman who uses a man’s forearm for support. However, female friends also use this way of connection.

When two people are dating, it is considered a polite gesture for a man to offer his arm for a woman to hold onto. It’s a part of dating and courting ritual. If you are a couple, you will be definitely holding each other “pod ruchku”. Normally two men won’t be doing it.

Couples who are walking or standing together "pod ruchku".

Couples are walking or standing together “pod ruchku”.

How to get a woman to hold on when you are walking together

  • Stop for a second and hold your elbow as if you were going to nudge the person next to you.
  • Turn your head and look at her briefly.
  • Most likely, the woman will automatically grab your elbow.
  • The whole thing will take 1-2 seconds, and you simply continue walking with the woman, who is now using your forearm as support.

Foreigners are not used to this gesture. But Russians and Ukrainians do it a lot, since they are used to walking long distances.

If your lady is wearing high-heeled shoes (and usually Russian and Ukrainian girls will be in high heels on a date), then she will definitely appreciate some support. For example, you can do it when going shopping with a Russian woman. This will allow you to score a few brownie points and also get a bit closer, which always helps.


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This used to be a common thing in America and something I still do instinctively when on a date. I guess seeing my values of courtesy, manners, and family are why I am here.


For a non-Russian walking or standing together “pod ruchku” sounds very naughty (the word, not the act itself). 😉