The kanji 長い (“nagai”) means “long” in Japanese.

And “naga” in Sanskrit and Thai means “snake” or “serpent”.

It seems to me that there could be a relation between them given that snakes are usually described as long.

Is there any relationship between them? Do they have a shared origin?

1 Answer 1


One could extend that hypothesis to ask if there's a connection between English long and Yiddish schlong.

  • English long ultimately derives from Proto-Indo-European *dlongʰos (“long”).
  • Yiddish schlong is from German Schlange ("snake") and ultimately derives from Proto-Indo-European *slenk- (“to wind, twist, slink, creep”).

That is, no apparent connection.

Back to your particular thought:

  • Japanese 長- naga- is thought to derive from, or be cognate with, obsolete verb 流る nagaru, root of modern verb pair 流れる nagareru ("to flow") / 流す nagasu ("to flush something, to make something flow"). I've also thought these might be related to verb 投ぐ nagu, modern 投げる nageru ("to throw").
  • Sanskrit नाग naga ("snake") ultimately derives from Proto-Indo-European *sneg- (“to crawl; a creeping thing”), the same as English snake.

So again, no apparent connection.

  • 1
    @Fogmeister: Happy to help! FWIW, some folks trace the Japanese term even earlier to reconstructed *nanka-. Mar 5, 2019 at 21:58

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