The meaning of words or phrases within certain contexts, especially when it does not seem to match the standard definition.

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17
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1answer
356 views

How did 革 “leather” come to mean newness?

How did the character for "leather" - [革]{かわ / カク} - come to also convey the meaning for "newness"? 広辞苑 lists one of the definitions (under かく) as あらたまること, あらためること, and we can see this in some of its ...
17
votes
2answers
551 views

What does the nakaguro (・) between these two words mean?

The first sentence on the Mac OS X article on the Japanese version of Wikipedia reads: Mac OS X(マック オーエス テン)は、アップルが[開発]{かいはつ}・[販売]{はんばい}する、Macintoshコンピュータ[用]{よう}の[現行]{げんこう}オペレーティングシステム (OS) である。 ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does 今度【こんど】 mean “next time”?

The word 今度【こんど】, though its literal meaning is "this time" is in my experience used pretty heavily to refer to tbe next time or some unspecified point in the future. For example: ...
16
votes
1answer
405 views

what is the difference between ごとに and おきに?

Both ごとに and おきに appear to mean "repeatedly at intervals". What is the difference between these two expressions?
15
votes
2answers
917 views

What connotation does なんだ add?

Specifically, in the expression 好きなんだ (I love you) why not just say 好きだ or 好きです?
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Meaning of 情弱乙 ?

I see 情弱乙 being used (as an interjection?) on many websites, but I can't find it in any dictionary, even online dictionaries. I guess the pronunciation is じょうじゃくおつ. What does it mean? Examples: 情弱乙! ...
13
votes
2answers
437 views

Ups and downs: かみ・しも vs うえ・した

So, we have the kanji 上・下 which can be read as either かみ・しも or うえ・した, and as I understand it, those two are antonym pairs. But what are the differences between the two? The thesaurus isn't very ...
12
votes
2answers
603 views

Meaning of ぬ added to 連用形 / masu-stem, as in 風立ちぬ

What does the ぬ at the end of 立ち specify? I can't find a verb that is just 立ちぬ, is this some kind of special form? Can this be done with other verbs as well? 風立ちぬ, for reference, is Miyazaki's new ...
12
votes
2answers
817 views

What does using という add to a sentence?

This sentence is from a grammar website: 主人公が犯人だったというのが一番面白かった。 Why is という necessary? What does it add? And what meaning is lost in writing the sentence without it? For example, as in: ...
11
votes
2answers
459 views

Pronunciation and meaning of  [closed]

I just received an email ending like this: 是非是非また誘って How to read the  ? Zero results on Google. As for the meaning, is it equivalent to よ ?
11
votes
4answers
746 views

What's the difference between いいえ and English's “no”?

In "Japanese for Busy People I" page 2 (kana or romaji edition) it says that いいえ is 'virtually the same as "no"'. It sounds like there are some differences, but they want to omit mentioning them for ...
11
votes
4answers
335 views

“Unsolvable problem”

What is the correct construction of "unsolvable problem"? Is it "解{と}けられない問題{もんだい}"?(Question 1) Plain(intransitive): 解{と}ける "To be solved". Potential form(of intransitive): 解けられる "can be ...
11
votes
2answers
426 views

Adjectives functioning both as イ- and ナ-adjective

This question has made me think about the class of adjectives, which can function both as イ- and as ナ-adjective, e.g. 大きい 大きな 小さい 小さな 真っ白い 真っ白な (etc.) 細かい 細かな 暖かい 暖かな 四角い 四角な (etc.) 柔らかい ...
10
votes
3answers
486 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
2answers
493 views

What does 逃げっこなしにしよう mean?

So, I was reading a children's story and came across this sentence: 「いいか、この最後のローソクが消えたら、本当のお化けが出るかもしれん。だが、どんなお化けが出ようと、お互いに逃げっこなしにしよう」 What I'm having trouble understanding and dictionaries haven't ...
10
votes
2answers
838 views

How do I “understand” kaomoji? (Japanese smilies)

When I see something like this: ヘ(´∀`ヘ)ヘ(´∀`ヘ)ヨイヨイ(ノ´∀`)ノ(ノ´∀`)ノヨイヨイ♪ I think some voodoo demon wants to say something to me. o_O My Japanese friends often use kaomoji. But, when they add (´▽`) ...
10
votes
1answer
189 views

What is the significance of a large く character in literary texts?

I am currently reading an early story by Tanizaki Junichiro in Japanese. I have come across both the hiragana く and ぐ written twice the size they usually are, taking up the same amount of space on the ...
10
votes
2answers
393 views

が and に interchangeability and difference in meaning

Consider these sentences: だれ{が・に}これが出来るか だれ{が・に}日本語が分からないか When both が and に are acceptable, what is their difference in meaning and practical usage?
10
votes
1answer
459 views

Did standalone noun “好き” mean a person in classical Japanese?

In classical Japanese, did standalone noun “好き” mean a person who likes something? I do not think that it does in modern Japanese, although it sometimes means a person when used as a suffix (e.g. ...
10
votes
1answer
440 views

How do 自他 triplets of related verbs work?

I thought this had been asked before (possibly by me), but I couldn't find it. I'm wondering why for certain verbs/words, instead of just a 自他 pair, there is a triplet (or possibly more) where two of ...
9
votes
4answers
230 views

Meaning of: イベントの前ふりをば。

A colleague is organizing an event and sent everyone an email beginning like this: 田中イベント担当の田中です。 イベントの前ふりをば。 ... (explanation about the event) The first line is a funny intro (the guy ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What does さあ (saa) mean?

I have seen this term used a lot in many different ways. 「さあ、忘れましょうその未来が」 saa, wasuremashou sono mirai ga — in this sense, I assume it means "come". But I have also seen it used as 「でもさあ」 demo saa — ...
9
votes
2answers
498 views

います and あります usage

I just learned about: います and あります. I know I should use います for people and moving things and あります for plants and inanimate things. I have two doubts: Which one should I use with "dead body". For ...
9
votes
3answers
321 views

What is the difference between ~すぎ and ~すぎる?

When I was playing a video game a few months ago, I noticed that some of the characters (mostly young teen females, in case it matters) kept saying ~すぎ instead of ~すぎる. For example, when one of the ...
9
votes
1answer
234 views

What is the difference between 部屋 and 室?

When referring to a room (in a building), what is the difference in usage, if any? I looked up the definitions and checked some sample phrases, but I could not see any real difference. I usually read ...
9
votes
2answers
188 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
2answers
327 views

How do I decide when to use plain or past verb form?

In (1) 明日、家へ帰って、母が作ったおいしい料理を食べます。 why is it 作った when it’s a future event? If I wanted to create a clause meaning 'delicious food my mother makes', it would be 母が作るおいしい料理. Does changing 作った in ...
9
votes
1answer
439 views

Usage and meaning of [passive verb]-てみれば

I am familiar with the set phrase 「言われてみれば」 as a way to say "Now that you say that", but as I examine the phrase further, the phrase structure strikes me as strange. The 〜てみる conjugation is commonly ...
9
votes
1answer
364 views

Qualitative intensifiers e.g. とても, とっても, 超, etc. How are they different?

How are とても/とっても, でかい/でっかい, 超 (and others that I have yet to encounter) used differently? I figured that for とても/とっても-type difference is that the double-consonant(geminated) version is stronger i.e. a ...
9
votes
1answer
454 views

Comparing 気にする vs. 気になる

Consider this example sentence from SPACEALC: あなたがどうしているか気になっていた。  "I was concerned about how you were." What is the difference when 気にする is used instead? I.e., あなたがどうしているか気にしていた。 ~なる ...
8
votes
2answers
592 views

Japanese don't learn kanji meaning only readings? Does it make sense for a kanji to have a key meaning to identify it?

As I understand it works like this. By the time Japanese kids enter first grade they have more or less decent vocabulary of words they know. So when kanjis are taught I can't even imagine how to tell ...
8
votes
2answers
418 views

Making sense of transitive usage of 行く and 来る - 「を行く」 and 「を来る」

I think it's known that some intransitive verbs can take を particle and be used as transitive verbs such as for example 「私のことを分かってくれない」. While using 分かる transitively would require specific scenarios ...
8
votes
2answers
130 views

どうしますか vs 何をしますか

I always interpreted 何 as "what" and "どう" as more of a "How or How about?" and thus was under the impression that if one wanted to ask "What will you do?" or "What did you do?" you would say 何をしますか ...
8
votes
2answers
274 views

What しかりだ does mean?

I need to know what しかりだ does mean. I couldn't find over internet a satisfactory meaning. It is from a manga called Saint Seiya. Here is the whole text: 黄金聖闘士 十二人とはいえ まだ幼い者が かなり多い シルバーセイント ...
8
votes
2answers
468 views

What does “ちるの、びるの” mean?

Context: 織次{おりじ} the protagonist is trying to buy back a set of drawings from his father's friend, who is mysteriously evasive about the matter. ...
8
votes
1answer
258 views

i-adjectives that end in a 〜ない which doesn't seem to be 〜無{な}い

I noticed there are many 形容詞{けいようし} (i-adjectives) that end in 〜ない, where the な is not part of the kanji, and doesn't seem to have the meaning 無い. Examples: 危{あぶ}ない means "dangerous", while 危 ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Onigiri and nigiri

I was reading this two articles: Onigiri wikipedia's article Nigiri explanation inside wikipedia's sushi article I first thought that onigiri was a type of sushi but it's not. It calls my ...
8
votes
1answer
461 views

Can I use 行っている間(に) in the sense of a habitual action?

Knowing that 行く is punctual, stative, and a motion verb, I also know that, 日本に行っている means "I/he/she have gone to Japan (and am still there)" rather than "I am currently going to Japan." I also feel ...
7
votes
5answers
515 views

Who scolded whom in Aに怒られる?

I can see that someone got mad or someone made someone else mad. The things that make it difficult are に and the られる form of 怒る. What does this mean? How do you figure out who did what in these types ...
7
votes
2answers
869 views

How accurately can 使い be translated as “angel”?

On jisho.org, 使い is translated with words such as "errand", and the same holds true on translate.google.com. Neither site is offering "angel" as a suggestion. Yet in Matthew 1:20, the phrase:     ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

What does チャラ mean?

What does チャラ mean? It was explained here that チャラ男 means light image. Does that mean cool image of a person? A cool person? ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Other meanings of でしょう besides “probably”

でしょう can usually be understood to mean "probably." But does it sometimes mean the same thing as ですね? What other meanings can it have? Can it mean "you know?"
7
votes
3answers
799 views

よかろう - What does it mean? Where does it come from?

This is another question that's come from a 昔話。 We have the following section: 大きい箱と小さい箱がありますが、どちらがいいですか。 どちらも結構じゃが、どうしてもと言うのなら、小さいほうでよかろう。 I'm having trouble with the second sentence. My ...
7
votes
3answers
380 views

うるさい written as 五月蝿い

This is a follow-up question to Does うるさい have a "negative" connotation. I've seen うるさい written as 五月蝿い. 現代では、is this form used often / at all? What does this have to do with flies (蝿【はえ】) in May? ...
7
votes
1answer
962 views

Would 私は怖い mean “I'm scared” or “I'm scary”?

Or does it mean both? If so, is there any way to explicitly distinguish between "I'm scared" and "I'm scary"? If it only means one and not the other, how would you say the other?
7
votes
2answers
290 views

What is the meaning of 〜たりして?

I've just come across "〜していたりして" at the end of a sentence in a post on Facebook, so it's probably very casual. Does anyone know the correct meaning and typical usage?
7
votes
2answers
394 views

What does “さ” means in 探偵さ?

I watch an animation called Detective Conan, which is about a detective. I read translations, but try to listen in Japanese. Sometimes, when he is asked "who are you?", the main character answers by ...
7
votes
2answers
507 views

What is だって when it's at the beginning of a sentence?

I have read several definitions of だって but none of them seem to make sense when I see it at the beginning of a sentence and I read the context. I saw one example Japanese sentence and in the English ...
7
votes
2answers
223 views

How broad is the meaning of 薬?

I saw on a board the other day someone referring to insecticide as "薬", which doesn't really fit with the English conception of "medicine". I looked up "薬" in Kenkyuusha, and sure enough, "chemical" ...
7
votes
1answer
119 views

I can't find a translation for 言やいー

I would very much appreciate it if someone could tell me what 言やいー refers to. All I know is that 言 has something to do with speaking or words, but that alone doesn't help. Is it slang? The entire ...