In Russian culture there is a saying:

Ты никто и звать тебя никак

Which means that the person is of no importance (in this society) and even his name doesn't mean anything (to this society members). He hasn't deserved being taken into account yet. Or he was always on a lowest position.

I translated this like:

You are nobody and your name is no one


You are nobody and are called noname

How do these translations sound to native English speakers? Please help me to improve the translations.

  • As for translating proverbs it is suggested to find equivalents. But if you cannot or there is not any in the target language so you can translate it into target language and then explain about its usage.
    – user33000
    Jun 4, 2016 at 20:59
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    I think you could say "You are nobody and you have no name."
    – user3169
    Jun 4, 2016 at 21:00
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    They are strange. It would be a great help if you improve your question by explaining its meaning or/and usage. This way you get a much better answer.
    – user33000
    Jun 4, 2016 at 21:01
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    I'm not sure if this is really on-topic. FWIW, if it means something like "You are nobody and your name is no one", I'd probably use "You are nobody and your name means nothing", aiming at literal translation. I'm not a native speaker, though. Jun 5, 2016 at 0:30
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    You are nobody and your name means nothing is a close equivalent. Oh, and I see @DamkerngT already suggested this. As a native speaker, I agree. Jun 5, 2016 at 2:45

4 Answers 4


Some suggestions in other answers and comments are quite good. As an alternative, I'd like to offer this, which is probably closer to the original in its literal sense:

You are nobody and your name means nothing.

This should be close enough to the meaning you gave, "You are nobody and your name is no one". I try to keep the and in the translation because I noticed the и in the original (Ты никто и звать тебя никак).

  • Note: means nothing is quite an idiomatic way to express this kind of idea. Imagine a couple in a breakup conversation -- it's quite possible that at one point, feeling betrayed, his or her heart broken, he or she may say "Did I mean nothing to you?". I guess we all can relate to that kind of feeling.
  • @Paul: I think that "You're no one to call you in any way" would sooner match the Russian "Я тебя знать не знаю (и знать не желаю)"
    – Victor B.
    Jun 5, 2016 at 12:50
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    @Paul You're no one to be called in any way sounds strange and unnatural in English. Jun 5, 2016 at 13:25

Luckily, Russian is my mother tongue and I very well know this saying, which literally means:

"You are so low in any rank order, that hardly anybody not only will take you into account whatsoever, but they even don't know your name",

where, in the original, the most meaningful part is "ты никто", which means "you are of no use or importance/you are nothing--a nought, a mere nonexistence" and is understandable as such even without "и звать тебя никак" (you even don't have a name).

So having done the best I could in search for the English equivalent, I'd like to suggest "a low man on the totem pole" idiom expression (or, maybe, " [one of] the lowest man [men]" as a variant) for the phrase you may be looking for.

I'm not sure, though, whether it would be appropriate to say, addressing to a group of people, "Who are you to blame it on me? You are just the low ones on the totem pole!". None but native English speakers or really advanced learners can answer whether it would or not.

Also, I feel like suggesting the following:

"(to me,) you are (just) a nought/nothing without a name/with no name",


"you are (just) nameless nothing (to/for me)";

although I'm not sure about English nativeness of the phrases, so here authoritative comments are needed.

As for Russian sayings and proverbs, I'm not sure that a word for word translation of these into English will always produce the desired effect.

For example, take the Russian "На ловца и зверь бежит", which is translated as "An animal runs towards a trapper", and it makes no sense, whereas the equivalent proverb is: "Speak of the devil, and he is sure to come".

  • 'The ball comes to the player" is probably a bit more appropriate English equivalent to the abovementioned Russian proverb about "an animal and its trapper". The well-known Russian saying: "Помяни черта, а он тут как тут" could be easily rendered into the English phrase: "Speak of the devil, and he is sure to come".
    – Violette
    Jul 28, 2016 at 20:16
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    Also, "лёгок на помине".
    – Victor B.
    Jul 28, 2016 at 20:32

I would translate this as "You're just an anonymous nobody."

The closest English saying is probably "You're just some nobody, toiling away in obscurity." Not quite the same thing but close.


Nobody, noun 2. an insignificant person

countable noun If someone says that a person is a nobody, they are saying in an unkind way that the person is not at all important. [disapproval] ⇒ A man in my position has nothing to fear from a nobody like you.Collinsdictionary. com

An idiom is a mere nobody or some nobody, so we can say you are a mere (some) nobody and your name is "nothing". As there are several synonyms, such as nonentity, zero,cipher we can say: You are a nonentity/a zero/a cipher and your name is "nothing".

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