Any question that does not deal specifically with grammar or pronunciation. Includes questions about prefixes, suffixes, compound words, loanwords, dialectal differences, pragmatic usage, etc. In other words, phenomena that occurs at the level of the word.

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7
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2answers
626 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
3answers
574 views

低い鼻 vs 短い鼻 and 高い鼻 vs 長い鼻 ?

After reading this thread: When would you use 低い vs 短い, I'd just thought of something. I once heard that a long nose (witch / Pinocchio) is called 高い鼻 and not 長い鼻 whereas the opposite (short nose) is ...
7
votes
2answers
212 views

Origin/etymology of こころ~ words

There are three unique words that begin with こころ~: 快い (こころよい)、 試みる (こころみる)、 志 (こころざし) What is the origin of these words in relation to "heart/spirit/mind", if any??? Or is this just something ...
7
votes
2answers
466 views

What is the difference between 特殊 and 特別?

I've got two questions. Firstly, what is the difference between 特殊 tokushu and 特別 tokubetsu? Secondly, is it true that all these grammar forms are correct: 特別な tokubetsu na + [noun] 特殊な tokushu na ...
7
votes
1answer
224 views

Oceans — Thick or Big?

Straightforward question. The Pacific Ocean is 太平洋【たい・へい・よう】 and the Atlantic Ocean is 大西洋【たい・せい・よう】. What was the reasoning in using a different character for the たい in each? And why 太 for Pacific ...
7
votes
2answers
269 views

What is the etymology of the word バレる?

What is the etymology of the word バレる, and why is it often written with katakana? ばれる(P); バレる (v1,vi) to leak out (a secret); to be exposed (a lie, improper behaviour, etc.) (behavior) ...
7
votes
2answers
197 views

How does 話{はなし}が噛{か}み合{あ}わない work?

I saw this phrase discussed on esaura.cc 話が噛み合わない 'There's a gap in their conversation.' 'They can't meet on common ground.' 'They have been at odds with each other.' 'They have not been ...
7
votes
2answers
366 views

What's the difference between “巻寿司” (makizushi), “海苔巻き” (norimaki), and “巻物” (makimono)?

It seems there are three words for the same Japanese food item, a kind of "sushi in a long roll": "巻寿司" (makizushi) "海苔巻き" (norimaki) "巻物" (makimono) Are they all identical / synonyms? Do they ...
7
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2answers
448 views

Why does 留守{るす} have two almost opposite meanings?

Why does 留守{るす} have two almost opposite meanings? One is "to keep the door" or "to look after home" and the other almost opposite meaning is "not at home".
7
votes
1answer
162 views

What's the difference between まだ and いまだ(に)?

My intuition wants to believe that いまだに is more formal, but all the examples I've seen do not indicate that. Are they freely interchangeable? Can't say I've ever heard いまだに in spoken context (or ...
7
votes
1answer
255 views

Words with metathesis

What common Japanese words underwent metathesis (transposition of sounds)? Examples. 新{あたら}しい < あらたしい 秋葉原 {あきはばら} < あきばはら
7
votes
1answer
124 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
156 views

What is the name of the wooden hook support on the walls of traditional Japanese rooms?

Traditional (and even not-so-traditional) Japanese rooms have wooden panels running along the walls, about 1m from the ceiling. They are mainly used to affix hooks, to which clothes hangers, ...
7
votes
1answer
175 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
707 views

Why does 一体 mean “what the heck?”?

the definition for 一体【いったい】: Adverb : ...the heck (e.g. "what the heck?");  ...in the world (e.g. "why in the world?");  ...on earth (e.g. "who on earth?"); —Before an interrogative, forms ...
7
votes
1answer
207 views

What does 意外と mean?

I heard the expression [意]{い}[外]{がい}といい in a video. I know that 意外に expresses something you didn't expect: 意外においしいよ。 It's delicous! (and I didn't expect that) Why did I hear 意外と instead of ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

何歳 , いくつ ,年齢 , ご年

何歳ですか? いくつですか? 年齢は? お年は? I think all are question sentences of "How old are you?" which are they differ?what are most poilte form??
7
votes
1answer
201 views

When and how to use 来る 【きたる】

Of course 来る is most often read as くる. However, it can also be read as きたる. Is きたる mostly an archaic reading? Does it carry a different, or any additional meanings?? When are "appropriate" ...
7
votes
2answers
142 views

How to use 対応 correctly

I see 対応(たいおう) quite often, but I can't seem to grasp exactly what this word means or how to use it properly. Checking a dictionary I get about 5 different definitions, all quite different from one ...
7
votes
1answer
307 views

Difference between the words for “feeling”

I have seen and been taught many words meaning "feeling", but what is the difference between the words, and where are they used? I have done a bit of research myself and have come up with these ...
7
votes
1answer
144 views

What may be the difference between the usage of 自尊心 ,誇りand 自慢?

I read a paragraph and the paragraph contains the word 自尊心. I want to know meaning of 自尊心. Dictionary says 自尊心 = pride. Is it same with 誇り? or 自慢? What may be the difference between the usage of ...
7
votes
1answer
272 views

What is the literal meaning of  ”いいかげんにしろ!”?

Some translations for the expression いいかげんにしろ! are: that's enough!;  cut it out!;  get a life! If the correct kanji of this expression is 好い加減, what is the literal meaning of both 好い and 加減 in ...
7
votes
2answers
187 views

Does バラの寝床 come directly from the English expression “bed of roses”?

I came across this phrase in a Haruki Murakami short story, and I was wondering if this is just a literal translation of the English phrase? I tried googling the Japanese phrase, but I could only ...
7
votes
2answers
346 views

Earnest and serious: when should each be used?

I've noticed there's a lot of overlap between the following words meaning "earnest" or "serious" when talking about a person: まじ 真面目{まじめ} 真剣{しんけん} 本気{ほんき} 正気{しょうき}: (This word really means "sane" I ...
7
votes
1answer
158 views

Do the various verbs pronounced つく differ in intonation?

Related: Dissecting つく verbs There are many verbs which are pronounced つく, and I was simply wondering: Do their intonation patterns differ? If so, what are the intonation patterns of the most ...
7
votes
1answer
187 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
1answer
254 views

What's the difference between 心, 念, and 意?

I can say that after much research on this, I'm more thoroughly confused than before I started. I'm talking mostly about when they are used as suffixes, but the concept applies when they stand alone, ...
7
votes
2answers
159 views

Questions on the word シクシク

I understand that the word シクシク is 擬声語/giseigo/onomatopoeia equivalent to the English "boo-hoo/boo-hoo-hoo." 恐怖でシクシク泣く To whimper in fear 彼女はボーイフレンドに捨てられた時、あまりの惨めさにシクシクと泣いた。 She wailed in misery ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Common 四字熟語 that use/are 当て字

Are there any commonly used known 四字熟語 that use/are 当て字 besides the following? Just crossed my mind, and now I'm curious. 滅茶苦茶 (めちゃくちゃ), 夜露死苦 (よろしく), 無理矢理 (むりやり)
7
votes
1answer
564 views

What is the most common usage and meaning of もったいない?

もったいない (勿体無い)(勿体ない) can mean "what a waste!" / "too good". Apparently it is originally (?) a buddhist term meaning “The essence or quality of the thing does not exist,” and supposedly has been ...
7
votes
1answer
206 views

動作 as opposed to 作用

The linguistics text I’m reading has a sentence with this fragment: 「動詞の表す動作・作用が[…]」。 Consulting dictionaries just made me more confused; what’s the contrast between the two in this context? “Action” ...
7
votes
1answer
129 views

The expressions 後へ引く and 後を引く

What is the logic behind the similar sounding expressions 後へ引く and 後を引く? Are they idioms? Apple dictionary lists these examples: 後へ引く もう後へは引けない 'It's too late to turn back now.' 'We're in ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

How many Kanji characters are there?

I have been searching around, but all the sources give completely different answers ranging from 2,000 to 50,000. So my question is how many Kanji characters that have ever existed since the dawn of ...
6
votes
3answers
459 views

What does 思いっきりどうぞ mean?

I heard this phrase a few times but I still can't grasp its meaning. Does it mean, "as much as you would like"?
6
votes
3answers
389 views

Evil twins and other tropes

I was trying to talk about films and (marvel) comics the other day, and stumbled upon "evil twin". Sure, I can translate it verbatim, but that usually works badly for such fixed expressions. And then ...
6
votes
4answers
453 views

Is there a word for the type of onigiri that comes in the triangular wrap that keeps the nori fresh?

The term "onigiri" covers all kinds of rice balls, with or without filling, and with or without nori seaweed around it. Is there a specific term that only covers the one class of onigiri available in ...
6
votes
2answers
391 views

What does “ごうと音がして” mean?

I am currently practicing Japanese by reading a novel but I have reached a sentence that I could not understand. ごうと音がして Can you please translate the vocabulary and verb used along with any unique ...
6
votes
4answers
378 views

does anyone know of any o-words or go-words which are absolutely neutral?

Does anyone know of any o-words or go-words which are absolutely neutral (have no nuances of being polite / courteous / respectful / womanly / cute etc etc)? The only ones I'm aware of currently is ...
6
votes
2answers
296 views

Is くろじん a word?

I used to call black people くろじん, either because I mistakenly read 黒人{こくじん} as such or because I heard it somewhere (or both), until I was told by another Japanese learner that こくじん is more ...
6
votes
3answers
138 views

“Statistically speaking … ”

I am looking for a way to express the equivalent of "statistically speaking, ..." (followed by a quote from a paper, or something like that), or pretty much any other grammatical construction that ...
6
votes
1answer
449 views

What does かの日 mean?

In my Japanese Bible, I've seen several passages that use the phrase かの日. Here are a couple. ...
6
votes
3answers
276 views

Why does 腰抜け mean coward?

Why does 腰抜け mean coward? I see 腰 (waist) + 抜 (missing/losing) = 腰抜け (coward), but I fail to see how they add up.
6
votes
1answer
954 views

How is the “のです” working here?

目立つ事を恐れ、一緒でなければいけないという日本人が確実に減ってきているのです。 The strong feelings that Japanese have of being afraid of standing out and everybody having to do things together are starting to become less ...
6
votes
2answers
250 views

What is the pun in 猥シャツ?

Could someone explain why 猥シャツ is defined as "obscene shirt (pun)"? I don't understand how this is a pun. 猥シャツ 【わいシャツ】 (n) (See Yシャツ) obscene shirt (pun) Source: ...
6
votes
2answers
171 views

What is the origin of ポイ as in “タバコのポイ”?

I was trying to see how much of the writing on the signs in the park I could make sense of today and found something of interest. A sign stating what not to do in the park covered not littering and ...
6
votes
1answer
155 views

When is 兄弟 interpreted as “siblings” and when is it interpreted as “brothers”?

I know that people often ask [兄弟]{きょうだい}いますか but does this mean "do you have siblings?" or just "do you have brothers?". Since the answer would be different in either case: (Has a sister) "No, but I ...
6
votes
1answer
252 views

What is it called when someone is made poor from attending too many weddings?

I cannot remember the phrase once taught me for when someone has become poor by attending too many weddings in Japan. Due to usually having to pay at least 30,000 yen just to attend weddings as a ...
6
votes
1answer
186 views

Questions about the term 自殺志願者

My Japanese friend used the term 自殺志願者 jokingly in a journal entry, saying she sometimes wondered if she qualified for such a position. I could not find a specific dictionary definition for this ...
6
votes
1answer
150 views

What is the difference between 口元 and 口?

When talking about the body part (not, for example, entrances/exits), what is the difference between these two words. Based on looking at these two pages (for 口 and 口元) I'm guessing that the ...
6
votes
1answer
329 views

Understanding “よりを戻す” and “止めておこう”

I don't think us getting together tonight is such a good idea. やっぱり今夜、よりを戻すのは止めておこう。 I would like to understand this sentence better, specifically the (idiomatic?) expression, "よりを戻す." I ...