In German lots of people would call this lamp, with its poor wiring, a "russischer Kronleuchter" (which translates to "Russian chandelier"):

Russian chandelier

Is there a common English term for that...

Additional note: In German, if something is called "Russian", it usually means a combination of different properties. Those may include, but are not limited to:

  • simple, easy to use/build/repair
  • very robust
  • functional, especially under bad conditions/circumstances
  • not good looking, as the appearance is unimportant
  • practical
  • not requiring much or highly qualified maintenance
  • inexpensive (not cheap in a negative sense)

A good example of something typically "Russian" is the AK 47 machine gun - maybe that's where the meaning comes from.

  • 1
    Not that i’m aware of. Maybe Russian Chandelier should be adopted- Although not very PC...
    – Jim
    Oct 30, 2016 at 7:36
  • Are you talking about simply being a pendant lamp, or is the state of the wiring important here? That example looks positively lethal.
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 30, 2016 at 7:51
  • 1
    Only UD mentions Russian chandelier: urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Russian%20Chandelier
    – user66974
    Oct 30, 2016 at 7:55
  • 1
    Yes, the state of wiring is important. It is not something you usually keep for a longer period of time (for obvious reasons).
    – Thomas
    Oct 30, 2016 at 8:04
  • I've added that in. You might edit the question again to include information on whether Russian is a common derogatory epithet in German (which I believe it may well be).
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 30, 2016 at 8:14

4 Answers 4


It's hard to tell how unsafe this is, but it looks like temporary lighting and perhaps also temporary wiring. I wouldn't want to live or work in this structure otherwise: "Permanent? Really???

In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established regulatory requirements ("standards") for both temporary lighting and temporary wiring. For example, the requirements for temporary lighting for shipyard employment are as follows:

The employer shall ensure that temporary lights meet the following requirements:

  • Lights with bulbs that are not completely recessed are equipped with guards to prevent accidental contact with the bulb;

  • Lights are equipped with electric cords designed with sufficient capacity to safely carry the electric load;

  • Connections and insulation on electric cords are maintained in a safe condition;

  • Lights and lighting stringers are not suspended solely by their electric cords unless they are designed by the manufacturer to be suspended in this way;

  • Lighting stringers do not overload branch circuits;

  • Branch circuits are equipped with over-current protection with a capacity that does not exceed the rated current-carrying capacity of the cord used;

  • Splices have insulation with a capacity that exceeds that of the original insulation of the cord; and

  • Exposed, non-current-carrying metal parts of lights are grounded. The employer shall ensure that grounding is provided either through a third wire in the cord containing the circuit conductors or through a separate wire that is grounded at the source of the current. Grounding shall be done in accordance with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910, subpart S.

I chose this example to indicate some of the safety considerations involved. The "Russian chandelier" ( sounds and looks derogatory to me) clearly fails to meet some of these requirements.

  • This "application" is usually found in houses that are either still under construction, undergoing serious renovations or the time right after that until somebody installs a proper lamp. It may violate some regulations, but I think most people consider it rather safe unless you do something stupid. (The bulb should not be reachable from the ground without a ladder, chair or something.)
    – Thomas
    Oct 30, 2016 at 16:39
  • @Thomas Right. Many of the requirements pertain to construction, including renovations. The requirements exist for a reason: people do stupid stuff all the time. "Common sense" is not an effective control. Note for starters that the "Russian chandelier" doesn't even appear to be grounded. There are only two wires, neither of which appears to be in good shape. Oct 30, 2016 at 16:46
  • The wires (there are three of them within a cable) hanging from the ceiling may not look good, but they're in good shape. If you enter a room in a newly built house, this is what you likely get. The cable is a bit longer than strictly necessary as the guy placing it there doesn't know what kind of lamp you want to install there and cutting a wire is a one way operation... Just out of curiosity: Why would you ground a (simple) lamp in a dry room that's hanging from the ceiling?
    – Thomas
    Oct 30, 2016 at 17:14
  • Oh, talking about stupid people doing stupid things: It is much easier to stick a screwdriver in a socket, yet we expect everyone (except small children) not to do so...
    – Thomas
    Oct 30, 2016 at 17:24
  • @Thomas The OP'a image clearly shows only two wires. At least that's my take. You would want the light to be grounded so that if there's a short, the current can flow to ground via the ground wire rather than through a person's body. This presumes some possibility of coming into contact with a non-current-carrying conductor inadvertently in contact with the energized wire. Ensuring a proper ground is a standard electrical safe work practice. But, on considering your comment, I can see that it may not be an issue in this case. Oct 30, 2016 at 17:31

In the UK, we would say that "cowboys" have been at work in "installing" [sic] what appears to be a hazardous, lashed-up improvisation. The word cowboy is pejorative in this case and meant to convey the idea that whosoever did this work is without the appropriate and necessary skills.

The modifier used to be restricted to itinerant people who posed or passed themselves off as qualified to do construction work, plumbing and electrical repair/installation, but nowadays it's more commonly used to describe bogus builders and and their handiwork who, in some cases, go so far as to use classified ads in the local print media to ensnare their victims. Equally, it's sometimes used to label anyone who does a piece of work in a very shoddy, ineffective or dangerous way.

Thus we would say, "Oh, that fellow I brought in to do the lighting in the shop turned out to be a cowboy It was money wasted; I had to bring in a firm of real electricians to reinstall all the cowboy electrics".

cowboy: (British, informal) A dishonest or careless person in business, especially an unqualified one. (Oxford Dictionary)


This is known as a bare bulb. Searching for that term in the google found the image below:

enter image description here

  • 4
    Yes, but this is more of a style rather that just a bare bulb.
    – user66974
    Oct 30, 2016 at 7:53
  • @JOSH Don't go all literal minded on me.
    – deadrat
    Oct 30, 2016 at 8:44
  • This might. It be appropriate since the OP wants a name for the shoddy wiring and bare bulb. Your picture is of a neatly arranged wire while they are looking for more haphazard wiring. Oct 30, 2016 at 9:30

Depending on what aspect of the Russian chandelier you are wanting to highlight you might describe the lighting arrangement as -

  1. a botched job (botch - to make clumsy, imperfect, or temporary repairs to (OED));

  2. (tongue-in-cheek) minimalist, simple, basic;

  3. an accident waiting to happen.

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