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AFAIK words マル and バツ are commonly used as short answers (right and wrong, 正しい・正しくない). Are there any kanji for these words?

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マル means 'circle', and this is clearly the word 丸{まる}.

But the origin of バツ is less clear. It may be from 罰点{ばってん}, and in fact I've always assumed the correct kanji would (in theory) be 罰, but dictionary editors appear to be less certain. 日本国語大辞典 says:

「ばってん(罰点)からできた語か

And 明鏡国語辞典 says:

「罰点(ばってん)」からか。

And 大辞林 says:

「罰点」から生じた語か

Note the か at the end in each case. Based on these dictionary entries, I can't state for certain that it would (in theory) be 罰 in kanji, but that's my best guess.

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  • If one ever used 『罰』, native speakers would take it to mean "punishment" 100% of the time. No one would take it to mean the "X" mark we get on a test signifying "incorrect answer". That I could guarantee.
    – user4032
    Oct 15, 2014 at 15:42
  • Ah, maybe I should have emphasized the "would be" part more to make it clear that I was speaking hypothetically. Thank you for the comment!
    – user1478
    Oct 15, 2014 at 15:46

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