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Recently, I came across this statement in a blog about the use of a Russian expression:

Обычно подро́стки (практически поголовно) используют это выражение.

... which I translated to mean: Usually teenagers (almost entirely) use this expression.

However someone told me that (1) this expression is considered somewhat dated and not very common in Modern Russian; and (2) that when used, it expresses a tinge of scorn or disapproval, like the whole (damn) lot of them.

Is this accurate?

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  • Are you asking about практически поголовно or about все поголовно ?
    – Jack M
    Sep 25 '15 at 12:46
  • I used все as a filler, since this is probably always used with groups of people.
    – CocoPop
    Sep 25 '15 at 13:33
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«Поголовно» simply implies that something is happening on a large scale, be it something negative or something positive. Compare

Наверное, они чуть ли не поголовно все наркоманы?

and

Тогда мальчишки все поголовно увлекались футболом.

As you see there is nothing bad in being interested in footbal.

However, it may still be used with a relatively small group of people, e.g. a class, meaning "without exception".

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  • Greg, would you mind translating your examples?
    – CocoPop
    Sep 26 '15 at 13:00
  • Sure. 1) Probably, the whole lot of them are drug addicts? 2) At that time all the boys without exception were passioanate about soccer.
    – Angry_Greg
    Sep 26 '15 at 13:28
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  1. No, it's still in use.
  2. Usually not. Consider also Latin "per capita".

The impression of some "scorn or disapproval" may originate from the meaning of this word in farming: livestock capita = поголовье скота. Nevertheless, applying either adjective поголовный or adverb поголовно to human-beings is OK.

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  • So is it true that using it in the sentence I gave implies that the speaker doesn't approve of the expression in question?
    – CocoPop
    Sep 25 '15 at 13:39
  • 1
    @CocoPop "Практически поголовно" = "Nearly all of them". Sounds quite neutral for me.
    – Matt
    Sep 25 '15 at 13:43
  • Thank you! However, do you agree that it's not considered formal enough to say something like: Если не указано иное, новые правила относятся всем студентам поголовно. in a school announcement, for example?
    – CocoPop
    Sep 25 '15 at 13:46
  • @CocoPop I'd say "Новые правила распространяются на всех учеников, если не указано иное". Such the formalities are: even saying "правила относятся" sounds a bit non-formal.
    – Matt
    Sep 25 '15 at 14:26
  • So поголовно would definitely not be used in this statement, correct?
    – CocoPop
    Sep 25 '15 at 14:31
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Both things that person told you are true. The word "поголовно" is related to "поголовье скота" (cattle count).

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