A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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~ S ~

S, Has in English the same hissing sound as in other languages, and unhappily prevails in so many of our words that it produces in the ear of a foreigner a continued sibilation.

In the beginning of words it has invariably its natural and genuine sound: in the middle it is sometimes uttered with a stronger appulse of the tongue to the palate, like z; as rose, roseate, rosy, osier, nosel, resident, busy, business. It sometimes keeps its natural sound; as loose, designation; for which I know not whether any rules can be given.

In the end of monosyllables it is sometimes s, as in this; and sometimes z, as in as, has; and generally where es stands in verbs for eth, as gives. It seems to be established as a rule, that no noun singular should end with s single: therefore in words written with diphthongs, and naturally long, an e is nevertheless added at the end, as goose, house; and where the syllable is short the s is doubled, and was once sse, as ass, anciently asse; wilderness, anciently wildernesse; distress, anciently distresse.