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ご[馳走様]{ちそうさま}でした is the greeting that people say after being treat a meal while ご馳走 by itself means “a feast”.

I looked up this word in the dictionary to learn more about the kanji characters. It turned out that both and have the meaning of “run”, or more specifically is “to gallop” and is “to run”.

So how come two “run” kanji characters give the meaning of “a feast”? Would anyone explain the etymology of the word?

P.S. is just a prefix you add to a noun to make it sound more polite.

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I doubt anyone (even Japanese people) would be able to explain the reasoning for this without some really serious Kanji etymology book(s). Maybe the guy was so hungry that he had to run to his horse, gallop all the way home, and whatever food was there was the best feast he'd ever had??? – istrasci Jun 1 '11 at 1:44
are you a member of the Heisig school for learning kanji by any chance? – Tim Nov 29 '12 at 22:23
Why, do they provide ridiculous scenarios like mine to explain kanji? :D But, no, I'm not (in case your question was serious). – istrasci Nov 29 '12 at 23:23
up vote 10 down vote accepted

The original meaning is not a feast. 馳走 means to prepare food and treat guests, and also to run around doing a bunch of stuff. ご馳走 means that someone has worked hard and treated their guests well.

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This answer is too short and lacks some research, facts and sources. (but still acceptable) For those needing more details: gogen-allguide.com/ko/gochisou.html – repecmps Jun 2 '11 at 6:37
Reminds me of the name 師走【しわす】 for the last month of the year—so called because the priests at all of the shrines are doing so much running about getting prepared for 正月. – Kaji Mar 20 '14 at 13:17

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