As I am going over the uses of N5 kanji, I have gotten confused as to why 口(ぐち) is used in places such as 出口 and 入口. What meaning does it add?


3 Answers 3


As you are probably aware, 口 has the meaning of mouth. However, when you look at the Jisho.org definition, you will also find the definition of opening; hole; gap; orifice as well.

What meaning does it add?

In this case, the meaning that is added is pretty simple, opening.

Combining 出 with 口, you get a hole for exiting. You will encounter this at many building and parking lot exits, but it exists many other places as well.

Combining 入 with 口, you get a hole for entering. You will encounter this at many building and parking lot entrances. As with 出口 you will also see it in other places as well.


In 出口 and 入口,「口」describes the doorway.

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Here 口 means "doorway" giving

  • 入口 "entry" ("entering doorway")
  • 出口 "exit" ("exiting doorway")

Of course the principal meaning of 口【くち】 is "mouth" — the opening through which humans or animals take in food. However, besides this literal meaning, "mouth" also has an extended meaning, also in English:


2 An opening or entrance to a hollow, concave, or enclosed structure.

‘the mouth of a cave’

A very similar meaning exists also in Japanese and a monolingual dictionary will list something like the following (taken from 大辞林):

  1. 通り抜けることができる空間。複合語としても用いる(この場合、多く「ぐち」となる)。

    ㋐ 穴やすき間。 「傷-」 「船腹に-があく」

    ㋑ ものを出し入れする所。また、そこをふさぐもの。 「瓶の-」 「 -がかたくて抜けない」

    ㋒ 人の出入りする所。戸口。 「 -が狭い」 「登山-とざんぐち」 「非常-ひじようぐち

roughly translating to

  1. a space where it is possible to pass through; …

    ㋒ where people enter and exit; door or doorway

Note that there are many more such words — the cited dictionary entry gives the following examples:

  • 非常口 "emergency exit"
  • 登山口 meaning the start of an ascending mountain trail.

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