A friend told me he's going to get a tattoo with "頑張".

頑張 doesn't exist on the dictionary without its -る conjugating part, so is it grammatically correct using it alone, as if it was a noun? Does it make any sense? More generally, does it make any sense omitting the conjugating part from a two (or more) kanji verb and using it as a noun? Wouldn't it be better to use the 連用形 form? Should I suggest my friend to rather get a "頑張り" tattoo?

Thank you for your help!

1 Answer 1


First, choosing a different noun/suru-verb with a similar meaning and on-reading (e.g., 努力, 研鑽, 全力, 精進, 鍛錬...) should always be a better option. Does he really need this "mundane" kun-reading word?

Next, 頑張 is of course not grammatical in ordinary sentences. But in this case, if you absolutely need to use this word and feel adding non-kanji り (or る) is aesthetically displeasing, okurigana omission might be applied, although it's far from conventional and should be considered as a last resort. This type of nonstandard okurigana omission is occasionally seen in 必殺技 names of a battle manga (e.g., 斬【ぎり】 instead of 斬り, 蹴【げり】 instead of 蹴り). Place names usually do not have okurigana, either (e.g., 夕張【ゆうばり】市 and 幕張【まくはり】).

(I would rather not repeat how Japanese people see those kanji tattoos here, but if this tattoo may be seen by Japanese people, please take time and do some research.)

  • "I would rather not repeat how Japanese people see those kanji tattoos here" --> Please do it, I am really curious about it. (Anyway, my friend finally decided to get a tattoo with 勝ち気)
    – Marco
    Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 1:34

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