語源. The study of the origin of words and the historical development of their meanings. Sometimes used for kanji as well; we currently don't have a separate tag for character origins.

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Connection between みっか/むいか and よっか/ようか

The pronunciation of [三日]{みっか} and [六日]{むいか}, the 3rd and 6th days of the month, are very similar, as are [四日]{よっか} and [八日]{ようか}, the 4th and 8th days of the month. Is there any inherent significance ...
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67 views

Origin of ずんぐり(むっくり)

Is ずんぐり(むっくり) at all related to/derived from [栗]{くり}? Here is a screenshot of the Google Image results when I searched for 「くり キャラ」: As you can see, most of these characters fit the description of ...
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172 views

How did 本 come to mean book?

When starting learning japanese it struck me as rather weird that 本, book, seems to have totally different meanings in its kun- and on-yomi compounds (i. e. 本気、基づく、本物), all vaguely centered around the ...
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89 views

On 重んじる and 重んずる

More from the JLPT1 vocabulary list. I've been presented with 重んじる and 重んずる, both given as transitives and with the meaning to prize, to honour, to esteem. Is there a difference in nuance between ...
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140 views

Is the word Canon キヤノン (camera brand) related with キャメラ?

I am not sure whether it is on-topic here, but the following question was asked on English Language and Usage. What does the word “Canon” (the digicam brand) mean? I searched the word and its ...
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90 views

Etymology of お負け

In my flashcard studying of JLPT1 vocabulary I've across お負け with three English definitions (from JMdict): freebie, price reduction, exaggeration. Now my question is how adding an honorific ...
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158 views

Is “役立つ” a recent lexicalization of “役に立つ”? Is it less formal?

When did 役に立つ lexicalize to 役立{やくだ}つ? Has 役立つ always been a word, and a word that is used more frequently than 役に立つ? A quick google shows 役立つ is used 3 times more frequently. I am reading the ...
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92 views

Etymology of 米国 (べいこく)

As far as I understand, the Chinese people called America "美国" (among many) which literally translates to 'beautiful country'. I understand it was phonetic transcription of 'America'. But I wonder ...
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78 views

Is there a (historical) connection between this オツ construct and Pig Latin?

Recently I was reading this post about conversions like おしゃれ->シャレオツ and I thought: "Wow, that seems very similar to Pig Latin!" (where e.g. "pig" becomes "igpay"; the main rule is that leading ...
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77 views

Similar 音・訓読み: Coincidence, or something more?

Occasionally, some 漢字 will have quite similar 音読み and 訓読み; such as, for instance 困; with 困{コン} and 困{こま}る; or 灰 with 灰{はい} and 灰{カイ}. Are these cases exclusively coincidence, or are there situations ...
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184 views

Is 戦う related to 叩く?

Are 戦う{たたかう} and 叩く{たたく} related? They have a similar pronunciation, and their meanings are close enough (fight vs. hit) that I think they could stem from the same origin. My theory is that 戦う ...
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345 views

Counter intuitive meaning of お開き

Apparently 開き means "opening" but お開き means "closure", which seems very counter intuitive. What is going on here? Are there any other similar cases in Japanese language?
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94 views

何も言うでない ! meaning and origin

I have found this sentence in Odin Sphere. I guess it's kind of old fashion for a strong interdiction. I first thought it came from the negative form of である but it doesn't seem to be replaceable by ...
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224 views

Why are the high-pitched voices of children 'yellow'?

I was reading a little book called 『ひらがな物語』 and came across this passage on page 119: ​ 大臣といえば明治初期の文部大臣森有礼が ​「めんどうだから、いっそのこと、小学校教育は英語にしようか」 ​ と、おおまじめで、いい出したこともあった。もし森文部大臣の発言が通っておれば今頃、 ​ パパ ...
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121 views

Why are some sharks named after birds?

Some sharks are seemingly named after birds: great white shark: hoojirozame 頬白鮫 from hoojiro (meadow bunting) sandbar shark: mejirozame 目白鮫 from mejiro (white-eye) blue shark: yoshikirizame 葦切鮫 from ...
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197 views

What is 「ピプロシン体」?

This is the first time I've failed to find a word in both dictionaries and Google search: the only hit Google finds is the article where this quote appears: 「本間さんは頭脳頗る明晰、今後優良の成績で卒業される事となつた、卒業論文は『...
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146 views

What is the origin of 付いてる meaning “to be lucky”?

Where does that come from? Was "to be attached" the only original meaning?
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142 views

Etymology of names of playing cards?

According to the Japanese wikipedia, the playing cards ("trump") are named as follows (written in Japanese in katakana): A: Ace 2: Deuce 3: torei 4: keito 5: shinku 6: saisu 7: Seven 8: Eight ...
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223 views

Is 翻す a former compound verb that merged into its current form?

The verb ひるがえす feels like it is made of two part ひる and かえす but I could not find any references backing this interpretation. And I can't figure out what would be ひる. @snailboat also mentioned くつがえす ...
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132 views

About 忙 and 忘 using same radicals but having different meanings

Today I confused 忙 with 忘 and now I can see why: they are made of same radicals and yet they have different meanings. Is there a logical reason for this?
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257 views

Why is たばこ written in hiragana instead of katakana?

While studying my Genki textbook I noticed that the word たばこ uses hiragana instead of katakana. I've always seen loan words to be in katakana, so this was interesting to me. I saw in this answer that ...
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103 views

Common origin of uses of the か particle

The particle か pops up in various places (among others): Turning interrogative pronouns into indefinite ones: なに -> なにか, だれ -> だれか, etc.; Listing alternatives (like the English conjunction 'or'); ...
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872 views

What is the etymology behind したっけ

僕だけがいない街 anime shows the children saying したっけ! translated as 'See ya!' and other terms, these are from Hokkaido dialect. I guess you can switch したっけ to other forms to say 'See ya': じゃあまた また明日 Anyway,...
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183 views

Why does 屋根 means roof and 天井 means ceiling? Shouldn't it be the contrary?

I was learning these words with my kanji list, and I thought that I made a mistake and switched their meanings, but after checking the dictionary again I realized that actually their definition is ...
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107 views

What is the image/feeling/concept behind 面白半分に◯◯する?

In a phrase like: 面白{おもしろ}半分に見る or 面白半分に言う What is the concept behind the 半分 and why is it connected with the verb using に? Is it like "all things have two parts/aspects": serious (真剣半分?) ...
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105 views

Why can a single word have more than one Kanji?

For example, うなずく has 3 Kanji as follows. 頷く 首肯く 肯く Why can this single word have 3 Kanji?
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200 views

Etymology of 鼻の下を伸ばす / 「鼻の下を伸ばす」の語源

English Today I've came across the expression 鼻の下を伸ばす/ 鼻の下が長い and had to look up its meaning. Other web dictionaries have different meanings, like to be soft on women, to be spooney, and similar ...
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Is 薬指 related to the Latin term “digitus medicinalis”?

薬指 ("medicine finger", ring finger) is interestingly similar to the Latin term for ring finger, "digitus medicinalis". Are they etymologically related?
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138 views

Origin of this character: 體

The character, 體 (tai) which I think loosly means entity looks different than the what I have noticed in other characters. In particular, the radical on the left looks strange. I tried to find it on ...
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120 views

同{おな}じ that means “same” is a noun but 違{ちが}う that means “differs” is a verb

When I asked Japanese about the opposite of 同じ, they always answer 違う. For me, it sounds strange that 同じ which is a noun has an antonym 違う which is a verb. Is there a pair of adjectives in Japanese ...
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215 views

What conjugation of 願う is 願わくば, and what does it mean here?

This is my first post here, I'm sorry if I didn't follow any formatting or posting rules. Original sentence, from a character's monologue: 願わくばこの時間が少しでも長く続くことを。。。 The English translation I have ...
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184 views

Use of テロ in 飯テロ

Why is テロ, which is presumably derived from "terrorism", used in 飯{めし}テロ, which I assume is the Japanese for "food porn"? I checked jisho.org and couldn't find any slang meanings of テロ.
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672 views

Reading and usage of 「垂オます」

A while ago I was chatting with a Japanese man and when he introduced himself instead of using 「申す」 or 「言う」 he used 「垂オます」, as in (His name)と垂オます. Can this be used in the same way as 「申す」 and 「言う」 ...
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167 views

Meaning of じゃろ and じゃろう

カトちゃんだって、実際は別に毎日長さんに怒られてるわけじゃないじゃろから、本当は ”人気者で怒られない人” じゃろうね。 In reality it's not really the case that even Katochan gets told off by Chou everyday so, in truth, people who don't get told off by ...
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189 views

Why is the た in 手伝う voiced?

て+つたう→てつだう Unexpectedly, the た from つたう turns into だ. 連濁, at least with the 手+伝う analysis, can't account for this, because it's not the first consonant of 伝う. What happened here? 和訳 て+つたう→...
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110 views

Understanding “鯖を読む”

鯖を読む would be naively translated as "Reading a mackerel". Weblio describes it as metaphorically meaning to misrepresent a number, such as their age. jisho.org says that as well as meaning "to read", ...
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132 views

Usage of 契り when meaning destiny/fate/karma

I was looking up some examples using 夫婦 and I came across this: 夫婦の契り translated on alc as "marriage bed". No problem, but then I looked as 契り by itself. On WWWJDIC there are 3 definitions: (1)...
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216 views

Where does the furigana split on 小路?

Where does the furigana split on the word 小路{こうじ}? Does the う belong to 小 or does it belong to 路? Or is the word considered to have a 熟字訓読み (i.e. no split)? 小 has the reading こ 路 has the reading じ ...
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112 views

Is 立つ in 顔が立つ is always imperfective? If so why?

I understand that the word 立つ has various meanings, but basically can be used to describe a state (for inanimate and animate objects) as well as a process (for animate objects). To describe a state ...
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145 views

Meaning of 座 in 口座

I don't understand why 口座, "(bank) account" is written with the kanji 座 in it... I got that 口 conveyed the idea of a number of something from the 広辞苑 which have this definition : 人または物件の数(をかぞえる語)...
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179 views

Origin of the word 烏有

I saw the phrase 烏有{うゆう}に帰{き}す, which means to "become nothing" as if turning to ashes. The word "烏有" means nothing, but its parts are 烏 (crow) and 有 (to be). How did 烏有 come to mean nothing? When I ...
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235 views

Before Japanese adopted Arabic numerals, can 十分 mean “10 minutes” other than “enough”?

I am not sure when Japanese started using Arabic numerals. At the time before it, can 十分 mean "10 minutes" other than "enough"?
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205 views

The origin of “HN”

I've read that HN is used as an abbreviation (略) of "Handle Name". Why was Handle Name abbreviated in Japanese instead of the much more common, at least in English, "User Name" or even the good old "...
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Why is the phrase ご連絡申しあげます linguistially correct?

I assume ご連絡申しあげます and ご連絡を申しあげます have the same meaning, but differ in style. I use them interchangeably below. This question is not about existence of を unless it was relevant to understanding the ...
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158 views

Why is 電話(でんわ)in hiragana?

from what i can tell, it shares the same meaning in chinese. shouldnt a phone be written in katakana?
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289 views

私 Origin / Etymology?

I'm taking a beginners Japanese course, and I heard that Japanese Kanji originated from the Chinese writing system, which is the reason for so many similarities. However, the Japanese Kanji for "I" (私)...
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234 views

Etymology of 姪 and 甥

姪 "niece" is often pronounced [[me.i]] rather than [[meː]] (see e.g. this comment in chat). I think the reason for this is that there is a morpheme boundary in 姪, presumably 姪 = 女【め】 + イ = female ...
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78 views

Is there any phonetic rule behind readings 馬場{ばば} and 馬場{ばんば}?

I understand that place names often undergo changes separate from regular language, but I always wondered if there was any phonetic rule behind reading for the word 馬場. Meaning "horse riding grounds" ...
2
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1answer
115 views

Why would the Japanese transliteration from Greek Χριστος be spelled as ハリストス instead of キリストス?

Although it's not as common as キリスト, ハリストス is seen in the name of Japan's Orthodox Church. But why ハリストス if the pronounce of the Greek Χριστος is khristós (with a clear kri sound)? There is キリストス too, ...
2
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1answer
102 views

When to use 選る/選ぶ?

When might 選る be used over 選ぶ? Also is there an additional fossilised morpheme deriving one from the other (i.e. is 選ぶ er-ab-u), and if so, what does it mean?