Russian avos'

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The Russian avos' (Russian: русское авось) describes a philosophy of behavior, or attitude, of a person who ignores possible problems or hassles and, at the same time, expects or hopes for no negative results or consequences. It is an attitude that treats life as unpredictable and holds that the best one can do is count on luck.[1][2]


"Avos" (авось) proper is a Russian word that can be used either as a particle or a noun. As a particle, "avos" is close in meaning to "hopefully" or "maybe" (when talking of something hoped for and uncertain). When used as a noun, "avos" means "hit or miss", "hope against hope", or "something done under risk and in the hope for good result in the end". The avos' attitude is believed by many to be intrinsic to Russian character, just as is the notion of "sud'ba" (судьба) which roughly translates, depending on the context, as "destiny," "convocation," "fate," or "fatum."

This kind of attitude has been described in Ivan Goncharov's novel Oblomov; earlier, Alexander Pushkin ironically called avos' "the Russian shibboleth" (Eugene Onegin, chapter X).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wierzbicka, Anna (1992). Semantics, Culture, and Cognition. p. 435. ISBN 0-19-507326-6.
  2. ^ Novicow, Jacques; Yakov Aleksandrovich Novikov (1904). The Expansion of Russia: Problems of the East and Problems of the Far East. p. 168.
  • Зализняк Анна А., Левонтина И. Б. Отражение национального характера в лексике русского. языка // Russian Linguistics, vol. 20, 1996.

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