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The usual situation with multiple kun readings for a kanji is that they are closely related in meaning (like [上]{あ}がる, [上]{のぼ}る). But with [着]{き}る and [着]{つ}く I fail to see any semantic connection. Why is the same character used? Did one of the meanings formerly use another character that became the same by simplification?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Etymology aside, I see a semantic connection between the two verbs, in that 着る and 着く both have a meaning of 'attachment', with 着く having at least some overlap with 付く. 着物 is something attached to your body. It is a bit unintuitive but you can make the leap of arriving at a place as entering into it and becoming spatially attached to it as in 駅に着く.

I didn't find an 'official' source, but I found one QA site answer that supposes a similar thing:



Also see the link for lots of different opinions.

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As far as I can tell, in Chinese 着 does not mean "arrive" (but can mean "wear"). In Chinese, "arrive" is 到, which we know from 到着【とうちゃく】, of course. Why the meaning of "arrive" was assigned a 訓読み of 着, rather than an alternative reading for 到 is not clear, unless one gives an explanation that links the meanings of "arrive" and "attach" (like in this answer). – Earthliŋ Jul 7 '13 at 21:13
到 is pretty much a Modern Chinese/Mandarin word. I don't recall any Classical work using it and it would feel very out of place. Based on my Chinese intuition I think the 着 has the core meaning of something flat falling down and landing on something and staying there touching a surface firmly. In Modern Chinese it has very little meaning by itself but shows up in compounds relating to firmness, planes landing, etc. – user54609 Jul 8 '13 at 2:43

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