My interpretation of Жили-были старик со старухой у самого синего моря is:

Once upon a time, there lived an old man and woman by the most blue sea.


Once upon a time, there lived an old man and woman by the bluest sea.

However, both Google and Yandex translate самого синего моря as simply blue sea, not bluest sea.

What is the meaning of самого in the sentence?

  • 4
    It's "By the very edge of the blue sea" in Robert Chandler's translation.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 11:27

1 Answer 1


"Самого" here refers to "sea", not to "blue". It means, that they lived right beside the blue sea, very close to it.

Other examples:


Прочитайте текст полностью, с самого начала до самого конца.

Read the text completely, from the very beginning up to the very end.


Я вышла из магазина и пошла домой, но у самого входа в дом поняла, что забыла купить молоко.

I left the shop and went home, but when I was about to enter my house, I realized, that forgot to buy milk.

  • Interesting. So how should one say the following? 1) They lived near the bluest sea. 2) They lived right beside the bluest sea.
    – ycele
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 13:18
  • 3
    @ycele, in the first case, we can also say "у самого синего моря" :) Formally, this phrase can have two meanings, and we choose the most appropriate one for current context. In the context of that tale, there is nothing special about the outstanding color of the sea, so the variant "right beside the blue sea" makes more sense, it is the "default" variant here. So, if we want to say "near the bluest sea" and to be understood correctly, we need to add some other words. For example, "у самого синего моря на свете" - "at the bluest sea in the world", or something like that.
    – Lara
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 13:34
  • For the second case, we can take the phrase from the first case, and add another emphasizing word. For example, "прямо у самого синего моря на свете". If we remove "на свете", it will get ambiguous again :) These are not the only variants, just examples.
    – Lara
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 13:38
  • Actually, there is a well-known song with words "Самое синее в мире Чёрное море моё", "My Black Sea is the bluest in the world". Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 21:00
  • 1
    @ycele у наиболее синего моря
    – Anixx
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 9:44

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