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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

7
votes
2answers
224 views

How is the Kanji of 口実 related to the meaning?

口実 noun: excuse;  pretext Literally translated it seems to mean mouth-truth. Most excuses seem to avoid the truth, so what is the logic here?
7
votes
1answer
409 views

Can どっち mean which one of many?

Given my understanding, it seems like "どちら" has the exclusive meaning of "which one (of two)" and "どれ" means "which one (of many)". Does どっち include both of these meanings? Also, do all of these ...
7
votes
1answer
523 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. ...
7
votes
1answer
125 views

Usage of 腱 vs 筋

What is the difference between the following characters: 腱 vs 筋 (すじ) Both translate to tendon (as in the connective tissue between muscles and bones)
7
votes
3answers
579 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
225 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
491 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
226 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
382 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
votes
1answer
170 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
2answers
200 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
516 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
127 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
157 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
183 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
264 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
250 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
1answer
330 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
152 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
319 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
194 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
370 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
217 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
1answer
266 views

How different is 冷やかす from 冷やす? And 散らかす from 散らす?

I've long known 冷やす as the transitive counterpart of 冷える. But thanks to one question here, I've realized that there is another version with an extra syllable in it: 冷やかす. Although 冷やかす seems to have ...
7
votes
1answer
256 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
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
198 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
281 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
162 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
608 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
207 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
130 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
3k 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
151 views

What is the difference between 実験室, 研究室 and 実習室?

I am reading Toki wo Kakeru Shojo and those three words are refered in the text quite as synonyms. Also my dictionary translates them all as 'laboratory'. It seems that they are used at different ...
6
votes
4answers
483 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
402 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
2answers
298 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
1answer
1k 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
310 views

Is the grammar of 心の冷たい人 idiomatic?

The phrase 心の冷たい人 (which is given by Japanese-English dictionary on OS X) looks wrong to me, but given that it's an example in a respected dictionary and confirmed by tens of thousands of Google hits, ...
6
votes
3answers
287 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
2answers
268 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
692 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) ...
6
votes
3answers
143 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
118 views

Difference between 証【あかし】 and 証拠【しょうこ】 (proof)

証明{しょうめい}means proof, but in the sense "certification" But 証{あかし} and 証拠{しょうこ}look very similar, meaning "proof, evidence". Would the difference be that 証拠 requires something physical (object), ...
6
votes
2answers
535 views

Why should one be careful of soft and sweet words in this neighbourhood?

A little while ago, in a neighbourhood in Tokyo, I came across this sign: I'm not sure of the readings of the place names, but the sign is put there by the local police, 戸塚[警察署]{けいさつしょ}, in ...
6
votes
2answers
180 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
167 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
258 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
2answers
169 views

Help translating よなも in a song

This is from a Trigun soundtrack, song called Sound Life (lyrics), 3rd line: 3つ目の夜に ワルツの子は世界面にウエーブを 打つ The 世界面 is translated as "world face", however pronunciation is given as よなも. I can't find ...