The precise meanings of Japanese words or phrases.

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15
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3answers
1k views

Does “敬語” (keigo) just mean “politeness” or is it a technical term specifically relating to Japanese grammar?

What is the difference between the Japanese term "敬語" (keigo) and the English term "politeness" (Specifically regarding language)? I assumed politeness is more general covering things like "please" ...
13
votes
4answers
591 views

Does 髭 refer to the beard or the moustache?

My dictionary lists 髭 as moustache / beard, but from the example sentences in WWWJDIC, it seems like 髭 is more often used to mean "beard" than "moustache" ? So for example, in this sentence: ...
13
votes
2answers
347 views

What is the meaning and root of 意味くじピーマン?

Recently a friend of mine threw the term 意味くじピーマン (imi kuji pi-man) into a story she was telling, and it totally threw me off. At first I thought, because I wasn't sure how to parse the くじ part, it ...
13
votes
2answers
381 views

What's the difference between 今日{きょう} and 本日{ほんじつ}?

I also see both in different examples. As in : 今日は暑い。 本日はおめでとうございます。 Both are translated as "Today", but when and how should I use either one? Can we say : 本日はあつい。 And 今日はおめでとうございます。?
13
votes
1answer
517 views

Does ごめん really mean sorry?

Normally ごめんなさい is translated as sorry or excuse me, but that seems like a translation for non-native speakers. In the same way, しつれいします can also be translated as excuse me or pardon me. But it really ...
13
votes
2answers
362 views

What does とな mean (and how do I use it)?

I came across this on Twitter, it seems to be mostly a question but sometimes an exclamation. Is it とは, or maybe とか? How do you use it? My dictionary has a とな as word that come at the end of a ...
12
votes
2answers
248 views

How do I know when to read the kanji 抱 as 「だ・く」, and when to read it as 「いだ・く」, or even 「うだ・く」?

This sentence was in a grammar textbook: 彼{かれ}は同僚{どうりょう}にライバル意識{いしき}、ひいては殺意{さつい}すら抱いていた ... it means: "He regarded his colleague as a rival, even to the point of considering murder." My ...
12
votes
3answers
550 views

Fun with synonyms - “eternity”

What are the differences among the following two-kanji words that seem to mean "eternity": 永遠 {えいえん} 永久 {とわ} 永世 {えいせい} 永代 {えいたい} 永劫 {えいごう} 永永 {えいえい} 久遠 {きゅうえん} 悠久 {ゆうきゅう} 恒久 {こうきゅう} 恒常 {こうじょう} 長久 ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

what does 自己PR mean?

I keep coming across this word often 「自己PR」when looking at applications. I'm not sure what the "PR" part means in Japanese, but in English it usually means "public relations". What does this word ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Can “みたい” mean “want to see”?

Can "みたい" mean "want to see", or does it always mean "looks like"/"seems like"? If not, how would "want to see" be expressed? Specifically, assuming it has both uses, it would seem ambiguous to me ...
11
votes
2answers
504 views

Meaning of 〜あれだ

Recently I encountered this phrase: _____ってあれだよね What is あれ in this context? Is the speaking making a positive or negative statement about ___?
11
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2answers
613 views

I can't stand 立つ【た・つ】: Do all its meanings derive from “stand”?

I have an issue with the word 立{た}つ, which is that I get it's basic meaning is "to stand", but I see it used in all sorts of ways that don't make sense to me. Here are some examples, from various ...
10
votes
3answers
676 views

How can you figure out whether 鍵【かぎ】 means “lock” or “key”?

Recently, I forgot whether 鍵【かぎ】 meant lock or key, so I looked it up quickly on my phone's dictionary... And then I found out that it actually means both. What are the best ways to figure out if ...
10
votes
1answer
719 views

Aren't がる and たがる the same thing?

In my JLPT practise book, it has two different entries, one to explain がる and one to explaining たがる. It offeres these example sentences to differentiate them: うちの子{こ}は新{あたら}しいものを見{み}ると、すぐほしがる。 ...
10
votes
1answer
278 views

What exactly is ありき?

I think from looking up ありき that it means "based on", but it's usage is unclear to me. I've come across it in these two examples: まずは結論{けつろん}ありき Which I think means "the conclusion is based on ...
10
votes
1answer
191 views

Fun with synonyms - “flattery"

What are the difference in the following words meaning flattery / to flatter: お世{せ}辞{じ} 追{つい}従{しょう} おべっか 胡{ご}麻{ま}をする 阿{おもね}る 諂{へつら}う 煽{おだ}て(る) 美{び}辞{じ}麗{れい}句{く} Which ones are honest, sincere ...
10
votes
1answer
844 views

Does タメ語{ご} mean “casual speech”?

A debate came up on the use of タメ語{ご} in this question, and I thought it was worth its own analysis. The question is, does タメ語{ご} simply mean "casual speech", or does it mean "speech between equals". ...
9
votes
3answers
259 views

How long of a time period does 最近 cover?

Can it cover an entire month? Two?
9
votes
2answers
195 views

[潔]{いさぎよ}い meaning

Can anyone tell me more about 潔い? I've looked in Goo, Alc, Kenkyusha, and Edict, and the definitions refer to "sportsmanlike", "gracious", or "take it like a man". However, I'm doubtful if these are ...
8
votes
1answer
931 views

What does ただいま actually mean?

I was wondering what the literal translation really means. I've seen it translated as I'm home but I've also seen it in a few situations where the person wasn't arriving home.
8
votes
1answer
248 views

What is the exact definition of 泥棒?

In English: a burglar is usually associated with someone who breaks into a house (victim is usually unaware during the burglary) a robber is usually associated with that person who uses weapons and ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Does “おつまみ” (otsumami) mean “snack” or “rice crackers” or “crunchy snack” like chips and peanuts, or something else entirely?

This is a word I learned by reading and not by studying or in conversation with Japanese. After learning the kana years ago I had occasion to fly with JAL and the pre-meal snack was a little packet ...
7
votes
1answer
578 views

Ancient practise of sneaking into women's bedrooms…?

I was looking up the meaning of スマ婚{こん}, when my mouse happened to roll over the kanji 婚{こん}, and this definition popped up in Rikaichan: 婚 よばい ancient practice of creeping at night into a woman's ...
7
votes
2answers
608 views

Does なかなか (with negative verb) mean “by no means” or “considerably”?

WWWJDIC defines なかなか (with negative verb) as by no means But shouldn't it have been considerably ? By no means means 100% not considerably means like 85% not So does なかなか (with negative verb) ...
7
votes
2answers
194 views

Interpretation of 注意する: to warn or to be warned?

I'm uncertain about the usage of 注意する in this sentence from Japanese the Manga Way, Chapter 25 page 198. The context is that a woman has noticed the following message written on the back of her ...
7
votes
1answer
204 views

Is “かいしゅん” a valid reading for 買春?

I have seen the words 売春 and 買春 pronounced "ばいしゅん". From my understanding 売春 is taken from the perspective of the "seller" whereas 買春 is taken from the perspective of the "buyer". However, when I ...
7
votes
2answers
291 views

Where does the phrase 「ノリが悪い」 come from and what is the meaning?

What is this phrase 「ノリが悪い」? I've seen it in a few places, but I haven't been able to find it in a dictionary yet. I had first thought it meant that "the seaweed was bad". What is the meaning of ...
7
votes
1answer
439 views

Why is this 理由 【りゆう】 given the furigana わけ?

It might be hard to read because of the image resolution, but on the cover of this book, on the bottom left side, it says: へんな日本語にも理由がある。 Which means something like: "Even strange Japanese ...
7
votes
1answer
171 views

What's the difference between 平行 and 並行?

They both seem to mean "parallel". In my プログレッシブ dictionary, it seems to point to the former being the more mathematical sense of the definition (two co-planar, non-intersecting lines), while the ...
7
votes
1answer
185 views

Difference between 創立、設立、樹立

Can anyone explain the difference between these words? They all basically mean "to set up / to found", and from what I've researched, it's all very 微妙 to me.
7
votes
2answers
192 views

What does 不可とする mean?

On the subject of real-time OS's, I read this sentence: 割り込みを一時的に不可(マスク)とする。 Where 不可 apparently means "to mask". I can understand that "割り込み masks something", but I can't understand "不可とする" ...
7
votes
1answer
293 views

What does the word ゆける signify?

I have the sentence: この国に生まれ老い、良かったと死んでゆける高齢化社会。 This is the first time I've seen 「死んでゆける」 or 「ゆける」. What does it mean? Is this a grammatical form? I also tried looking up more examples with ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

のか - Particle “lamenting reflections on the preceding statement”. What?

I've come across this sentence in my manga. そ そうか そういう疑いを持っているのか It's actually fairly easy, but the particle at the end has confused me. I thought it was the two particles の and か, but then I ...
6
votes
1answer
194 views

What's the difference between 世間{せけん} and 世界{せかい}?

Both 世間{せけん} and 世界{せかい} seem to mean "world" in the sense of "a sphere of human activity or interest", or "a particular way of life", and that sort of thing. (As opposed to 地球{ちきゅう}, the literal ...
6
votes
1answer
143 views

Implication of a Japanese sentence [duplicate]

I was wondering if there is any context implied by a sentence like "6時に起こしてください。" I have read it translated as "Please wake me up at 6." But is "me" implied? Could it also mean "Please (will you) ...
6
votes
2answers
363 views

Does the kanji 妾 still get used by women to refer to themselves?

In this answer, the kanji 妾 was defined as "mistress". I'm not so familiar with this kanji, so I looked it up, and it seems to have about four readings and two definitions. Although I think some of ...
6
votes
1answer
234 views

What is the origin of, and how do I parse 絶対{ぜったい}領域{りょういき}?

絶対{ぜったい}領域{りょういき} is a slang term that refers to the visible bare skin from the bottom of a woman's skirt to the top of her thigh high stockings. Or, short pants and thigh high boots... pick your ...
6
votes
1answer
152 views

What is the difference between キャリアウーマン, OL, and ビジネスウーマン

When I come across the titles キャリアウーマン, OL, and ビジネスウーマン, I seem to have a difficult time picturing what their position is or what they do. I'm wondering if anyone can elaborate on how they are ...
6
votes
1answer
158 views

Which つける do I use?

So I looked up つける and saw it can be written as: 付ける 着ける 附ける And they all seem to have the exact same definition: to attach, to join, to add, to append, etc. So are these "spellings" ...
5
votes
3answers
223 views

What does つまづい mean?

What's the meaning of つまづい in this context? たとえ何があっても つまづいても迷っても
5
votes
2answers
249 views

How do I differentiate all these terms for “illiterate”?

I looked up the word "illiteracy", and was offered many different possibilities. Here they are, with my personal take on the nuance behind their origins: 活字{かつじ}離{ばな}れ ("removed from printing"?) ...
5
votes
2answers
106 views

what is the difference between [法度]{はっと} and [法律]{ほうりつ}?

To add a bit more to my question, I'm wondering if the words are used interchangeably, or if 法度 has more a sense of law that is set up to ban or prohibit something? Is 法度 a commonly used word?
5
votes
3answers
394 views

What is the meaning and etymology of 蝶よ花よ?

In a book I was reading, a tomboyish character complained about the expectations her parents had of her as their only daughter. She said: 「蝶よ花よと育てたかったらしいんだけど」 EDICT defines 蝶よ花よ as "bringing up ...
5
votes
2answers
975 views

Wait… えらい means also means “terrible”?

For over a decade of speaking (poorly) and listening to Japanese, it seems to me that I have almost exclusively heard the word えらい in the sense of meaning "admirable". For example, I'd mention ...
5
votes
1answer
180 views

Should I use 通訳 or 翻訳?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but 通訳 is used for translating conversations(interpreting) whereas 翻訳 is used more for translating documents, right? I have a document that I had a Japanese friend translate ...
5
votes
1answer
112 views

What is koshinashi?

I can't find コシなし defined in any dictionary. It looks like it might have something to do with udon noodles.
5
votes
1answer
188 views

Definition of ブラコン when discussing musical preferences

A Japanese person told me that they have ブラコン。I looked it up on Wikipedia and it said something like an emotional attachment to one's brother. But they said that it meant something like someone who ...
5
votes
2answers
230 views

What's the difference between [勝負]{しょうぶ} and [試合]{しあい}

I've seen both refered to as "match". Is there some secondary usage or perhaps a connotation or nuance that separates the two?
5
votes
1answer
269 views

Does ところ mean the exact same thing as こと in this sentence?

Consider the following sentence: お金じゃないところが好きだから一緒にいるの 【おかね じゃない ところが すき だから いっしょに いるの】 I think it means "I'm with you because of the parts of you that don't have to do with money". I'm ...
4
votes
1answer
505 views

The different meanings of “life”? 生気/生活/ライフ/生命/一生/人生/命

I was looking through a dictionary and came across 生活. My original question was Is this the difference between 生気/生活? 生気 would be like an idea of life. more abstract 生活 would be ...