I always thought that 坊 in 朝寝坊する was a bit weird. At least in Chinese, 坊 means "small factory". Thus I assumed it was a pun about "went to work at the morning sleeping factory" though it seems a bit far-fetched. How come it is not just 朝寝する or even 朝寝る?

  • 1
    坊と言えば・・・こいつかな blogimg.goo.ne.jp/user_image/47/2d/… この子は食いしんぼで怒りんぼで聞かんぼで・・・ (sorry I wanted to say something funny) – user1016 Jul 4 '13 at 13:28

坊 in Japanese is fairly uncommon on its own, but it means something like 'kid' or 'boy' most of the time (originally it was 'monk', and it's shifted a bit semantically). 寝坊 is a somewhat playful term for someone who has trouble getting up in the morning, and as a する verb means 'sleep late' or 'oversleep'. 朝寝坊する is basically the same thing.

坊's modern Chinese meaning is probably the result of it being used as the simplification of an unrelated character, but I could be wrong.

  • Wiktionary gives 坊 1. neighborhood, urban subdivision which is arguably closer to the Chinese meaning. Which makes the Japanese meaning kind of interesting...especially since Wiktionary also says it has the 訓読み of まち・へや・てら which seems to be closer to the Chinese meaning too. – ithisa Jul 3 '13 at 2:14
  • 2
    That's odd indeed then. Jisho.org only has the 'monk'~>'boy' meaning set, read ぼう; and has none of those three readings. Odd indeed. It'd be nice if Wiktionary had meanings beyond just the translingual one. One of the meanings jisho.org gives, though, is 'priest's residence' - that may be the very original meaning, and the root of all this semantic drift mess. In Chinese, it may have gone priest's residence > residential area > urban subdivision > factory, while in Japanese it may have gone priest's residence > priest > kid. That's just speculation though. – Sjiveru Jul 3 '13 at 2:36
  • I'm not able to type it on google IME with any of those readings either. – ssb Jul 3 '13 at 6:48
  • 3
    Another resource you can use is 大辞泉, which has entries for kanji as well as words. See 【坊】[漢字項目]. – snailplane Jul 3 '13 at 10:55
  • 1
    According to Shogakukan, 坊{ぼう} originally referred in Japanese to a municipal administration district in ancient Japan modeled on Tang Chinese administration policies. Heian Kyō (i.e. modern Kyōto) was divided into eight 坊 with four each east and west. In some contexts, it appears that this "district" or "place" meaning for 坊 was later used to refer to a place where monks lived, and by extension from that, to the monks themselves. Since monks shaved their heads, 坊 and 坊主 were used to refer to babies, who are often nearly bald, or to young boys, who used to also have shaved heads. – Eiríkr Útlendi Jun 6 '14 at 23:08

(This is an answer based on observation and experience but if you do some research I think you will find some substance:)

The use of 坊 literally means boy or son but rather like -man in English, it can sometimes be used to mean person, of either sex:

朝寝坊 someone who gets up late

食いしん坊 glutton

赤ん坊 baby

大の見え坊 very vain man

うちの子、暴れん坊なのよ。 My child is really rowdy

忘れん坊 s>pace cadet

暴れん坊 rough neck

  • 1
    隠れん坊 → Hide-and-seek (game) – istrasci Jul 3 '13 at 14:25
  • 1
    It typically seems to have a connotation of either childishness or inexperience, though. – Sjiveru Jul 3 '13 at 15:25
  • 寂しん坊 - maybe referred to lonely guys (or monks) originally? – user3169 Jul 4 '13 at 23:28
  • 「寂しがり屋」って感じですかね~ – user1016 Jul 7 '13 at 20:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.