定義. The precise meanings of Japanese words or phrases.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

17
votes
3answers
3k 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" ...
16
votes
2answers
1k 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。?
15
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
344 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
1k 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: ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

“雷{かみなり}” is thunder, or lightning, or both?

In daily conversation, " 雷 " means both the lightning and the accompanying thunder as a single phenomenon, right? At night, I sometimes see lightning on the horizon, but no thunder. That is 雷, right? ...
14
votes
2answers
571 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
820 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 ___?
13
votes
2answers
411 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
1answer
2k 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 simply mean "casual speech", or does it mean "speech between equals". Or ...
12
votes
1answer
2k 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 mean,...
12
votes
1answer
6k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
645 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 {...
12
votes
3answers
387 views

Relation between 大学, 学校 and 大学校

These are the specifications, that I do already know: [学校]{がっこう} = school, including [小学校]{しょうがっこう}, [中学校]{ちゅうがっこう}, etc. [大学]{だいがく} = university (used frequently) [大学校]{だいがっこう} = university (not a ...
11
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
992 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
292 views

How long of a time period does 最近 cover?

Can it cover an entire month? Two?
10
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
474 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
340 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
922 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
2k 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。 ...
9
votes
2answers
229 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
290 views

Difference between 創立、設立、樹立

Can anyone explain the difference between the words 創{そう}立{りつ}, 設{せつ}立{りつ} and 樹{じゅ}立{りつ}? They all basically mean "to set up / to found", and from what I've researched, it's all very 微{び}妙{みょう} to ...
8
votes
2answers
1k 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) ...
8
votes
1answer
487 views

Use of する to describe one's colour

From Japanesepod101: 象は灰色をしている。 The elephant is gray. The meaning of the sentence is not in doubt but I've been trying to figure how する is being used here. Checking a dictionary, definition ...
8
votes
1answer
2k 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
743 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
218 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
323 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
790 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 「...
8
votes
1answer
98 views

How to tell whether a building is マンション or アパート

Given a building, how to classify it as マンション or アパート? Non-subjective set of criteria preferred. In particular, if there is any legal definition of these terms that would be the best. I used to ...
7
votes
3answers
3k 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
81 views

Meaning of うららか in うららかな午後に

Does うららか mean "beautiful" (as in "beautiful weather") in the sentence below? うららかな午後に、新木場で起きた事故で電車ビタ止まり。 Written by a Japanese colleague on our discussion server. Google Image Search does not ...
7
votes
1answer
203 views

What is the meaning of 国の母?

I'm attempting to translate parts of my 完全マスター N2 textbook just for the practice, and even though I've already gotten past this section, the meaning of [国]{くに}の[母]{はは} still eludes me. I don't like ...
7
votes
3answers
467 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
407 views

what does てやる mean when it is not used for giving?

Okay, according to the (monolingual) dictionary that I use, てやる is used to indicate "doing something with strong will or determination" (my translation) e.g. 飛び降りてやる! But this definition seems a ...
7
votes
2answers
303 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
4answers
2k views

森 vs 林 for forest

According to A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters, 森 (38) is woods and 林 (75) is forest. But some material I've found online related to Japan seems to indicate 森 is the more correct Japanese ...
7
votes
2answers
477 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
208 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
1answer
305 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
289 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" ...
6
votes
1answer
388 views

Unknown word and strange use of えと

Take the sentence: バッサリいこうぜ!うっとうしいだろ[長]{なげ}えとよ。 The first, from context, I think means "You're gonna get a haircut!" I can't find バッサリ in the dictionary, though. The second probably says "It's ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

what do the words OG and OB mean?

In my JLPT workbook, I have the sentence: 就職活動で携帯電話を重用する学生が増えている。OB, OG訪問で約束を取り付けたり、採用担当者から面接日の連絡を受けたりするのも、常に持ち歩いている携帯の方が確実とみられているからだ。 I'm not sure what OB, OG訪問 means.
6
votes
1answer
368 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
210 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
573 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
208 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
76 views

How to tell whether a building is 長屋建 or 共同住宅

The 国勢調査 census asks every habitant of Japan to tell whether they live in a 一戸建 (stand-alone house) , a 長屋建(テラスハウスを含む), a 共同住宅, or その他 (other). QUESTION: What is the difference between a 長屋建 and a ...