My text editor tells me that водолазовой is wrong and suggests me

  • водолазов ой
  • or водолазной
  • or водолазкой
  • or водолазный
  • or водолазка.

Using Google Translator I was not able to decide what could be the right one.

That word comes from the Sergei Esenin's poem Черный человек

Черный человек!
Ты не смеешь этого!
Ты ведь не на службе
Живешь водолазовой.
Что мне до жизни
Скандального поэта.

  • 1
    There is a book with analysis of the word "водолазовый" goo.gl/V1juBf
    – alex
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 20:10

2 Answers 2


"Водолазовой" here is an adjective that comes in pair with word "службе":

Ты ведь не на службе / Живешь водолазовой. = Ты ведь живешь не на водолазовой службе.

Водолазовая служба literary means diver's service.

Why Esenin is using this metaphor is not clear for many people - there are a lot of questions about it on many internet sites. In the book "Неизвестный Есенин" the author proposes a version about a story that could be known to Esenin about a diver that gone mad when found a "forest" of drowned people (killed by bolsheviks). Another possibility is that Esenin says "don't dive into the depths of my soul". Or maybe Esenin thinks that he is "drowned" and asks the diver that wants to rescue him to go away.

As for spell checker suggestions, there was a known bug in MS Word's spell checker a couple years ago that made funny suggestions for "wrong" words. For instance, it suggested to replace the word завязочками (like in "папка с завязочками") with "завяз очками" (got stuck with eye-glasses). All words with "-очками" ending were suspicious and many gave funny replacement suggestions.

So, spell checker is not always right, especially when the words are rare or the text is rather old or poetic.

Looks like version that водолаз is synonym for священник has many supporters. For example, here the priest's youtube channel that is called Служба Водолазова.

On Gramota.ru forum the following citation is posted:

У Макаренко, в "Педагогической поэме": "А вот пусть Осип Иванович скажет: для какого хрена водолазы здесь это, понадобились?", когда пришли сватать колонистку и говорили о церковном венчании.
...Про водолаза говорит не воспитанник колонии, а работавший там Силантий, самый что ни на есть сельский трудяга, и говорит он простому крестьянину, причем оба друг друга прекрасно понимают.

  • The priest and the diver has one thing in common: they both wear black coats.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 8:22
  • In 1930 it was green: flot.com/PCandmobile/salon/… And here it is light-brown: ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Artemix
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 10:25
  • водолаз literally means 'one that gets into water'. I can well see how anti-clerical rhetoric of 1920s could apply that as a slur to baptised christians, and more so to the priests.
    – Qwerty
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 15:25
  • One thing which is particularly confusing, is that he says "на службе живёшь водолазовой" (live on/at diver's service) which sounds odd. You don't live at/on service. You serve there, or work.
    – il--ya
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 17:40
  • See П.П.Бажов, "Про водолазов"
    – il--ya
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 18:13

First of all, the word водолазовой (fem. gen. from водолазовый) is the only right one here of course. If you do not trust your copy of the book, the Internet (Esenin’s poetry is very easy to found), trust your sense of rhythm – no one of your suggestions fit the metre. Spell-checker and Google Translate are not good tools to analyse lyric poetry.

The literal sense of водолазовый is close to word водолазный which is a mere adjective from водолаз – a professional diver; but водолазный may be connected with diving (e. g. водолазный костюм – diving suite) while водолазовый only with diver as a person (it’s so called possessive adjective). So the literal sense of водолазовая служба is diving service. There is still no much sense in the context of the poem, is it?

Well. I don’t have any proofs at hand now, but as far I remember водолаз is the slang word for priest (поп, священник) here. I can’t say have it word ever been widely understandable in this sense, nowadays it is not. Anyway, in common words author says to черный человек: ‘You are not a pastor. Please, tell your stories to someone else, not me’.

Ты ведь не на службе / Живешь водолазовой. ... Пожалуйста, другим / Читай и рассказывай.

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