JLPT 2 has this word 短~ (たん)

EDICT lists it as fault; defect; weak point; or minor (music), however there isn't any examples at all on the usage of the word.

Does anyone have some example usages (applications) of the word ?

  • I found some occurrences, actually quite a few, but what meanings are you interested in? The ones you listed?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 10:13
  • 軽薄短小 is cool 四字熟語.
    – istrasci
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 14:17

2 Answers 2


There are two set phrases that come to mind:

  • 短を補う (remedy one's defects -- the EDICT definition)
  • 短を捨て、長を取る (discard the bad, retain the good).

Using 短 in this way is extremely kanbun-y and, apart from set phrases like the above, as Dave M G says it would be unlikely to occur in regular speech.

In the musical sense of "minor", 短 is used as a prefix, like this:

  • イ短調 = (key of) A minor
  • 変ロ短調 = (key of) B♭ minor
  • 嬰ハ短調 = (key of) C♯ minor
  • ニ短三和音 = D-minor triad (D, F, A)
  • 短六度 = Minor sixth (interval)

Note names and sharp/flat terminology are a whole different question (hint), but basically 短調 = "minor key", 短音階 = "minor scale", 短三和音 = "minor triad", etc. You can replace 短 with 長 to get the major version of any of these.

Using 短 in the context of music to mean "minor" is completely normal -- in fact it is the standard way to express the concept of "minor" found in classical Western harmony.

I note that you cite the word as "短~"; could it be that JLPT 2 is referring to the use of 短 as a prefix? (I ask because of the squiggly line after it which often indicates "insert something here" in Japanese language learning texts.) As Dave says, 短~ appears this way in 短所 "weak point, fault", 短気 "short-tempered" etc. with the meaning "insufficient, faulty" but it also very commonly carries the meaning of literal shortness: 短期 "short term", 短距離 "short distance", 短銃 "pistol (= short gun)", etc. You wouldn't learn this searching for 短 on its own, though, as AFAIK 短 as the standalone Sino-Japanese word たん only has the figurative meaning of "fault" discussed above, and not the literal meaning of "shortness".

  • I do believe it's a prefix or something, i got the word from jlptstudy.com/N2/N2_vocab-list.html (no. 2893)
    – Pacerier
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 0:16
  • kanbun-y → verse-like. But man, I don't know the adjective for verse, can we use it as adjective?
    – syockit
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 6:58

That definition is very uncommon. A word like 短所【たんしょ】(weak point) uses it in that sense, but in the vast majority of cases, the kanji means "short" and changes words in a way that has that meaning in mind.

Take a look at this list of words beginning with to see how it's used.

  • cool, i guess this word is not meant to be studied alone then.
    – Pacerier
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 6:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .