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I read the manga "食戟のソーマ" and have a question concerning the meaning of the [食戟]{しょくげき}. I understand the 食{しょく} part, standing for Food, but 戟{げき} is what I don't understand.
I would have understood it, if they used the Kun reading (ほこ) standing for weapon, but as for 戟{げき} I have no idea. My question is: What is the meaning of 戟{げき} in the contexts of 食戟 and therefore what does 食戟 mean?

Additional information: The official English title of this manga is "Food Wars!". In the manga a 食戟 is a food competition, where cooks face each other mostly in a one vs one fashion similar to Iron Chef but in a more over the top style.

  • I suspect it's because it sounds like 撃 – Ringil Oct 3 '15 at 15:30
  • @Ringil I see what you mean, both have the same on yomi, but based on jisho.org there are 18 Kanji with that on yomi. Following your idea and assume it is based on the way it is pronounced, why should they do it? I mean it is the title of the series, what would make 食戟 be a better choice than 食撃? – Brian Oct 3 '15 at 15:59
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    It's also somewhat similar to 撃 in compounds such as 剣戟【けんげき】==刀剣による戦い. – blutorange Oct 3 '15 at 18:15
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I asked two Japanese PhD students who knew the anime version. From the way it is pronounced, they understood it as "Food Fight/Battle" and both would have written it as 食撃 (like Ringil suggested in his comment). As for why the it is written as 食戟 they had two similar opinions:

First, 戟 is outside of Jōyō Kanji used in daily life and therefore is special/unique/rare. This uniqueness would fit the topic since all the dishes made during a 食戟 are special, one of a kind dishes.

The other argument was that in modern times with a huge competition in manga books the work of the author needs to catch the attention of the reader at first glance. And the first thing a reader sees is the cover with a title. Using a rare character makes the reader curious about the word and its meaning.

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According to http://jisho.org, 戟 {じ} means a type of halberd. Now, if you take 剣戟 {けんげき}, it means a sword fight. From that example, I believe 戟 means "a battle using ---". Then, in the case of the manga, the title could be translated to "a battle using food"

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    Just a note about 戟{じ}: I don't think 戟 is normally read じ in Japanese. The 'ji' listed on that site is Mandarin jǐ, but Japanese borrowed it from Middle Chinese kjæk, before it became jǐ. In Japanese, the usual readings given in dictionaries are ゲキ and ほこ, and I have a larger dictionary which also lists キャク. – snailcar Oct 3 '15 at 23:17
  • I see, thanks for pointing that out. That was indeed sloppy on my part. I assume the rest of the answer makes sense – htcoelho Oct 4 '15 at 0:02

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