Nuance of 〜し in "失われし時代"

I was listening to some video game music and the game “Golden Sun: the Lost Age” is called “黄金の太陽 失われし時代”.

I understood and knew how the last part thanks to WaniKani . I assumed that “ushinaware” is a passive form of “to lose” but I’m lost as to why the “し” is needed in this context? Isn’t 〜し is used as a form of “and” when listing phenomena that are occurring but why is it used here? Is it just poetic or something?

This is not that kind of し as when given a reason for example.

I think this is 失われし is an archaic grammar form that modifies a noun and is roughly equivalent to 失われた. I think it just looks more poetic and sophisticated.

Found another example:
選ばれし者 is translated as The Chosen One.

There’s a thread on Yahoo Answers about this form:


Yeah, in classical grammar, the forms of words for modifying words and ending sentences were not identical, and so there are some differences with modern grammar. Some of these remain in modern Japanese as set expressions. Other times it’s just meant to evoke a feeling of being from that time period, when it was actively used.


Yes, it’s the 連体形 of き, which was a past tense form in Classical Japanese. I don’t know its specific nuances though. It seems to involve reminiscing or recollection. I think the closest modern Japanese analogue is the question particle っけ, as in「えっと…なんだっけ?」

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I looked through an article about classical grammar and it seems it was quite a bit different from the modern grammar. This き form is for recollecting the past you experienced yourself, while there’s another for けり for past events you heard from someone else.

My guess is that now it doesn’t really have this meaning but is used as equivalent to the modern 〜た form in fixed phrases and such.


Ah, OK. I hadn’t heard of this difference before. Hm… I wonder if that’s why my dictionary says that っけ is thought to come from けり.

I suppose. I mean, it could probably still be used to indicate nostalgia or something, but I guess its main purpose would be to act as an archaic equivalent of た.


Here’s another grammar explanation in case you want to cross reference anything.

P.S. @Jonapedia That’s the 古典文法 version of the 国語文法 website you’ve see my link to a lot.

Kind of a tangent, but speaking of set expressions, I recently saw the proverb 働かざる者食うべからず in a book (which makes two books I’ve seen that in now). Seems like べし hung around in modern Japanese more than a lot of things actually, between べき, なるべく, and the occasional べからず.


よし and なし are also remnants of classical grammar.


Ah, I never even considered that. Good to know!

I think what bothers me most about classical grammar is that sometimes し is the 終止形 while き is the 連体形, and sometimes き is the 終止形 while し is the 連体形. Makes it really hard to keep track of!


Thank you very much for your answers, everyone! I am very grateful!

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