I was reading a short story from Chekhov called "Который из трех?" when I came across a hyphenated suffix attached to certain words. Here are a few examples:

И при такой самой природе как приятно, знаете ли-с, любить такую приятную особу, как вы... Но я несчастлив!

Очень несчастлив-с!

Ни... ничего-с! Я хотел, собственно говоря, вас побеспокоить...

I couldn't find what it means. I even looked through my reference grammar book, but to no avail. I reckon it's either an archaic grammar (the story was published in 1882) or some very obscure one. I would like to know what it means, when is it used and to what sort of words can it be attached?

3 Answers 3


Shortened from сударь over the course of centuries, it's basically used to add a respectful tone to the conversation. It went entirely out of use after the revolution, and its meaning has to be learned by present-day Russians — by default, it just registers as "something people always say in 19th-century books for some reason".


Это словое́рс (тж. словое́р, словое́рик) — название частицы -с (написание по старой орфографии — -съ), прибавляемой в русском языке к концу слов в определённых ситуациях: https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A1%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B5%D1%80%D1%81


Just a side note. In "Eugene Onegin" Onegin's neighbours think him as being very impolite person for (besides other things) his constantly omitting suffix "-s":

"Сосед наш неуч, сумасбродит,
Он фармазон; он пьет одно
Стаканом красное вино;
Он дамам к ручке не подходит;
Все да да нет; не скажет да-с
Иль нет-с". Таков был общий глас.

А.С. Пушкин "Евгений Онегин", II, V

"Our neighbor is a boor; acts like a crackbrain;
he's a Freemason; he
drinks only red wine, by the tumbler;
he won't go up to kiss a lady's hand;
'tis all 'yes,' 'no' - he'll not say 'yes, sir,'
or 'no, sir.' " This was the general voice.

Translated by E. Nabokov

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