In Russian we have a word "отродясь/отроду" that means "since birth". Is there an English one-word to mean "since birth"? I do understand that depending on context, I can use some specific word.

I mean that instead of saying, "I never heard of it" I would like to say something like, "I didn't hear of it since birth" but shorter.

To compare, in Russian it's four words, "Отродясь этого не слышал".

Edit: The Russian word has a synonym "сроду" which is an absolute equivalent.

  • 4
    We English speakers must have memories far inferior to that of the average Russian speaker. The first three weeks of my life are a complete blur.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 21:07
  • As a non-English who's first language is English (and I speak another fluently and a couple more 'half-wittedly') I would hazard to say that this is the best thing about the English Language.... Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 9:18

5 Answers 5


I think you have answered your own question. In idiomatic English we would render it with never: "I've never heard of it." (perfect tense works well here). That's 6 words, only two more than Russian, which is not bad for an analytic language like English.

A dictionary gives further examples

  • 3
    Yes. I suppose one could add "in my life" or "in my entire life", but it doesn't seem to add much (and certainly doesn't achieve the brevity that SovereignSun was looking for).
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 21:19
  • 1
    Russian isn't really much briefer except in word count as whatever words it synthesizes still have to have an extra syllable or two added to evince the case of the noun. English just uses a preposition plus the noun; Russian uses a stem of the noun and creates a new word for each prepositional phrase to represent the case it's in. That's easier in theory, but it's not necessarily briefer; it may even be more complex, whereas English is simpler.
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 1:23
  • 1
    Just for the sake of clarity, the word count comparison is light-hearted. It's not meant to suggest that either language is "better", or even that there is any kind of competition in language, or that word count is a reasonable way of making comparisons.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 7:33

You wrote: "I didn't hear of it since birth".

It's difficult to know what you wanted to say because your tentative English sentence was not idiomatic. But I'll assume you want to express the idea that some thing or some remark has struck you as unprecedented.

I've never heard of such a thing!

I've never heard of such a thing in all my life!

I've never heard such a thing.

Never heard such a thing!

Never heard of such a thing!

If you want to say this in a set number of syllables or words, then your question is off-topic. But we can say it in few syllables.


"Congenitally" means since birth, and is one word. . Often used in a medical context, as an adjective describing a condition: "His birthmark was congenital." "Asking stupid questions seems to be a congenital state of hers."


Well, first, English is an analytical language and Russian is a synthetic language just as Hungarian and Latin are; therefore, English doesn't deal too much with grammatical cases. Most grammatical cases in English exist in the pronominal system (system of pronouns) called the English pronominal declension. The pronouns are usually categorized into four or five categories and I'm going to include the possessive adjectives into the affray despite their not technically being pronouns because they decline as well. Let's look at the following cases for instance: (I exclude the reflexive pronouns, i.e. "myself, himself, etc.)

Nominative / Accusative / Genitive Adjective / Genitive Pronoun / Dative

1st Person Singular: I / me / my / mine / (to / for) me

1st Person Plural: we / us / our / ours / (to / for) us

2nd Person Singular (Modern): you / you / your / yours / (to / for) you

2nd Person Plural (Modern): you / you / your / yours / (to / for) you

2nd Person Singular (Archaic): thou / thee / thy (thine) / thine / (to / for) thee

2nd Person Plural (Archaic): ye / you / your / yours / (to / for) you

3rd Person Singular (m.): he / him / his / his / (to / for) him

3rd Person Singular (f.): she / her / her / hers / (to / for) her

3rd Person Singular (n.): it / it / its / its / (to / for) it

3rd Person Plural: they / them / their / theirs / (to / for) them

Don't quote me on this because I don't know Russian and I am a little rusty on my grammatical cases, but the preposition "since" roughly translates to the preposition "from". In a synthetic language like Russian, there are "very few, if any," prepositions, so the language abounds in cases; therefore, each word will have a different form to represent the noun with a preposition attached intrinsically, i.e. the dictionary definition might be in the nominative case meaning "house", but there will be words that mean "from the house", "to the house", "at the house", "by the house", "inside the house", etc. In the case of the Russian word "отродясь", I believe this noun is declined in the ablative case if my memory should be correct. The ablative case in Latin usually corresponds to the preposition "from + noun"; I believe that's what we have here since Russian is a synthetic language. English doesn't decline nouns like that except for pronouns and the -'s suffix added to nouns to show the possessive/genitive case in English, i.e. boy's, girl's, mother's, father's, mayor's, etc.

To make a long story short, there is no word in English that means "since birth" as there is in Russian because English is an analytical language; therefore, it must use a preposition with its nouns, whereas Russian is a synthetic language; therefore, it must decline its nouns to evince parts of speech.

I hope that might have helped you out in this matter. Take care and good luck!

  • I don't understand the meaning of "synthetic" here. Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 4:51
  • 1
    "Russian is a synthetic language just as Hungarian and Latin... In a synthetic language like Russian, there are no prepositions". Actually, Latin has plenty of prepositions. And the fact that English is analytic isn't enough to prove that it doesn't have a word for "since birth" (it does in fact have the word "postnatally", though it wouldn't be idiomatic in SovereignSun's suggested context!).
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 7:00
  • Most of this is rather irrelevant to SovereignSun's question, especially the archaic 2nd person singular.
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 7:02
  • Okay, I meant synthetic languages have "few" prepositions. I was using a hyperbole there, i.e. an exaggeration, since it is nothing like the prepositions in analytical languages.
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 8:18
  • A synthetic language is like Russian---grammatical cases replace "most" of the prepositions and therefore nouns are formed from stems to replace "most" of the prepositional phrases like "from birth" or "since birth". I'm sure in Russian, the word meaning "at birth" is different from "since birth", which is different from when "birth" is the subject of the sentence. That means it's a synthetic language because the preposition and the noun "synthesize".
    – Nick
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 8:21

After plenty of analysis and research I have come to a conclusion:

  1. The words "отродясь/отроду/сроду" are formed like this: "от рождения", which does mean "since birth". However, the equivalent meaning in Russian is "Никогда за всю жизнь", which is "Never in my entire life" in English.
  2. The word "сроду" is actually "с рождения". A preposition and a noun.

Depending on the situation the words can have a different tone, but their English equivalents are: never (in most cases), not at any time, on no occasion, not under/in any circumstances, and not in a million years.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .