I'm researching the kanji 本 for a blog post. I understand its original meaning is "root", and the other two senses, "book" and "this," are semantic shifts. I've found a couple of sources (without citations; one on Japanese StackExchange) for its sense of "book."

I'm having more trouble finding its sense of "this" as in 本学, 本件, 本状, 本品 and so on. Does anyone know how it came to be used in this way?


1 Answer 1


The English rendering of this may be somewhat misleading. :)

The root (ha!) meaning of 本 includes a sense of main, and it is from this sense that the use correlating to English this derives: as in, "the main item under discussion (out of several possible items)".

Shogakukan's 国語大辞典 lists the following sense under the II〔接頭〕 heading:

Attached to a noun, the item now actually at issue. Term expressing a sense that this is the immediate item. The relevant (thing), this (thing). Such as, "this auditorium", "this issue".

  • 2
    I had the slightest suspicion that would be the case. Thank you for helping out! (Also, the root puns are what this kanji's ABOUT)
    – user25960
    Sep 27, 2017 at 23:47

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