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S, s

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noun, plural S's or Ss, s's or ss.
  1. the 19th letter of the English alphabet, a consonant.
  2. any spoken sound represented by the letter S or s, as in saw, sense, or goose.
  3. something having the shape of an S.
  4. a written or printed representation of the letter S or s.
  5. a device, as a printer's type, for reproducing the letter S or s.


  1. satisfactory.
  2. signature.
  3. small.
  4. soft.
  5. south.


  1. second.


  1. satisfactory.
  2. Saxon.
  3. sentence.
  4. short.
  5. Electricity. siemens.
  6. signature.
  7. single.
  8. small.
  9. soft.
  10. Music. soprano.
  11. South.
  12. Southern.
  13. state (highway).
  14. Grammar. subject.


  1. the 19th in order or in a series, or, when I is omitted, the 18th.
  2. (sometimes lowercase) the medieval Roman numeral for 7 or 70.Compare Roman numerals.
  3. second.
  4. Biochemistry. serine.
  5. Thermodynamics. entropy.
  6. Physics. strangeness.
  7. sulfur.


  1. an ending used in writing to represent the possessive morpheme after most singular nouns, some plural nouns, especially those not ending in a letter or combination of letters representing an s or z sound, noun phrases, and noun substitutes, as in man's, women's, baby's, James's, witness's, (or witness'), king of England's, or anyone's.

Origin of 's1

Middle English -es, Old English


  1. contraction of is: She's here.
  2. contraction of does: What's he do for a living now?
  3. contraction of has: He's just gone.

Usage note


  1. a contraction of God's, as in 'swounds; 'sdeath; 'sblood.


  1. a contraction of us, as in Let's go.

Usage note


  1. a contraction of as, as in so's to get there on time.


  1. saint.
  2. school.
  3. second.
  4. section.
  5. see.
  6. series.
  7. shilling; shillings.
  8. sign.
  9. signed.
  10. silver.
  11. singular.
  12. sire.
  13. small.
  14. society.
  15. son.
  16. south.
  17. southern.
  18. steamer.
  19. stem.
  20. stem of.
  21. substantive.


  1. (in prescriptions) mark; write; label.

Origin of S.1

From the Latin word signa


  1. (in prescriptions) let it be written.

Origin of S.2

From the Latin word signētur


  1. Fellow.

Origin of S.3

From the Latin word socius


  1. Sabbath.
  2. Saint.
  3. Saturday.
  4. Saxon.
  5. (in Austria) schilling; schillings.
  6. School.
  7. Sea.
  8. Senate.
  9. September.
  10. shilling; shillings.
  11. Signor.
  12. Small.
  13. Socialist.
  14. Society.
  15. sol3(def 1).
  16. South.
  17. Southern.
  18. (in Ecuador) sucre; sucres.
  19. Sunday.


  1. a native English suffix used in the formation of adverbs: always; betimes; needs; unawares.
Compare -ways.

Origin of -s1

Middle English -es, Old English; ultimately identical with 's1


  1. an ending marking the third person singular indicative active of verbs: walks.

Origin of -s2

Middle English (north) -(e)s, Old English (north); orig. ending of 2nd person singular, as in Latin and Greek; replacing Middle English, Old English -eth -eth1


  1. an ending marking nouns as plural (boys; wolves), occurring also on nouns that have no singular (dregs; entrails; pants; scissors), or on nouns that have a singular with a different meaning (clothes; glasses; manners; thanks). The pluralizing value of -s3 is weakened or lost in a number of nouns that now often take singular agreement, as the names of games (billiards; checkers; tiddlywinks) and of diseases (measles; mumps; pox; rickets); the latter use has been extended to create informal names for a variety of involuntary conditions, physical or mental (collywobbles; d.t.'s; giggles; hots; willies). A parallel set of formations, where -s3 has no plural value, are adjectives denoting socially unacceptable or inconvenient states (bananas; bonkers; crackers; nuts; preggers; starkers); cf. -ers.
Also -es.

Origin of -s3

Middle English -(e)s, Old English -as, plural nominative and accusative ending of some masculine nouns


  1. a suffix of hypocoristic nouns, generally proper names or forms used only in address: Babs; Fats; Suzykins; Sweetums; Toodles.

Origin of -s4

probably from the metonymic use of nouns formed with -s3, as boots or Goldilocks
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for s

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I say, Dirk, what do you s'pose all that yarn means about to-morrow night?

  • An' I s'pose you feel it all the more, seein' the round-up's jest startin' out.

  • S' fur 's the pitcher goes, it's about as good 's kin be did with paint, I guess.

  • "I s'pose you know more'n your father and mother," suggested Wade.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • "I s'pose I was a poor miserable creatur' to git out of it that way," said she.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

British Dictionary definitions for s


symbol for
  1. second (of time)



noun plural s's, S's or Ss
  1. the 19th letter and 15th consonant of the modern English alphabet
  2. a speech sound represented by this letter, usually an alveolar fricative, either voiceless, as in sit, or voiced, as in dogs
    1. something shaped like an S
    2. (in combination)an S-bend in a road


symbol for
  1. satisfactory
  2. Society
  3. small (size)
  4. South
  5. chem sulphur
  6. physics
    1. entropy
    2. siemens
    3. strangeness
  7. currency
    1. (the former) schilling
    2. sol
    3. (the former) sucre
abbreviation for
  1. Sweden (international car registration)


abbreviation for
  1. see
  2. semi-
  3. shilling
  4. singular
  5. son
  6. succeeded


abbreviation for
  1. plural SS Saint
  2. school
  3. Sea
  4. Signor
  5. Society

Word Origin

Latin socius



  1. forming the plural of most nounsboys; boxes

Word Origin

from Old English -as, plural nominative and accusative ending of some masculine nouns



  1. forming the third person singular present indicative tense of verbshe runs; she washes

Word Origin

from Old English (northern dialect) -es, -s, originally the ending of the second person singular


  1. forming nicknames and names expressing affection or familiarityFats; Fingers; ducks

Word Origin

special use of -s 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for s


suffix forming the possessive singular case of most Modern English nouns, its use gradually was extended in Middle English from Old English -es, the most common genitive inflection of masculine and neuter nouns (cf. dæg "day," genitive dæges "day's").

Old English also had genitives in -e, -re, -an, as well as "mutation-genitives" (cf. boc "book," plural bec), and the -es form never was used in plural (where -a, -ra, -na prevailed), thus avoiding the verbal ambiguity of words like kings'.

In Middle English, both the possessive singular and the common plural forms were regularly spelled es, and when the e was dropped in pronunciation and from the written word, the habit grew up of writing an apostrophe in place of the lost e in the possessive singular to distinguish it from the plural. Later the apostrophe, which had come to be looked upon as the sign of the possessive, was carried over into the plural, but was written after the s to differentiate that form from the possessive singular. By a process of popular interpretation, the 's was supposed to be a contraction for his, and in some cases the his was actually "restored." [Samuel C. Earle, et al, "Sentences and their Elements," New York: Macmillan, 1911]

As a suffix forming some adverbs, it represents the genitive singular ending of Old English masculine and neuter nouns and some adjectives.



suffix forming almost all Modern English plural nouns, gradually extended in Middle English from Old English -as, the nominative plural and accusative plural ending of certain "strong" masculine nouns (cf. dæg "day," nominative/accusative plural dagas "days"). The commonest Germanic declension, traceable back to the original PIE inflection system, it is also the source of the Dutch -s plurals and (by rhotacism) Scandinavian -r plurals (e.g. Swedish dagar).

Much more uniform today than originally; Old English also had a numerous category of "weak" nouns that formed their plurals in -an, and other strong nouns that formed plurals with -u. Quirk and Wrenn, in their Old English grammar, estimate that 45 percent of the nouns a student will encounter will be masculine, nearly four-fifths of them with genitive singular -es and nominative/accusative plural in -as. Less than half, but still the largest chunk.

The triumphs of -'s possessives and -s plurals represent common patterns in language: using only a handful of suffixes to do many jobs (e.g. -ing), and the most common variant squeezing out the competition. To further muddy the waters, it's been extended in slang since 1936 to singulars (e.g. ducks, sweets, babes) as an affectionate or diminutive suffix.

Old English single-syllable collectives (sheep, folk) as well as weights, measures, and units of time did not use -s. The use of it in these cases began in Middle English, but the older custom is preserved in many traditional dialects (ten pound of butter; more than seven year ago; etc.).



third person singular present indicative suffix of verbs, it represents Old English -es, -as, which began to replace -eð in Northumbrian 10c., and gradually spread south until by Shakespeare's time it had emerged from colloquialism and -eth began to be limited to more dignified speeches.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

s in Medicine


  1. semis (half)
  2. sinister (left)


  1. The symbol for the elementsulfur

s in Science


  1. Abbreviation of second (of time), second (of an arc)
  2. The symbol for strangeness.


  1. The symbol for sulfur.


  1. A pale-yellow, brittle nonmetallic element that occurs widely in nature, especially in volcanic deposits, minerals, natural gas, and petroleum. It is used to make gunpowder and fertilizer, to vulcanize rubber, and to produce sulfuric acid. Atomic number 16; atomic weight 32.066; melting point (rhombic) 112.8°C; (monoclinic) 119.0°C; boiling point 444.6°C; specific gravity (rhombic) 2.07; (monoclinic) 1.957; valence 2, 4, 6. See Periodic Table.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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