Learning the time of day I found that 朝 or あさ means morning, 昼 or ひる means afternoon, and 晚 I expected to be night but Google translate is saying it's moth for some reason. Does this 晚 only mean night when paired with certain characters?

  • Funnily enough, I have noticed a similar problem when google translate - Many, many single characters are incorrectly translated as moth. I have no idea why that happens... But it does. Here are some examples I found after 20 seconds of searching:「蜻 - dragonfly」「舘 - mansion, large building」. It seems to only really occur for single kanji that dont have a kunyomi reading, or at least not a common one. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 6:15
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    @あらまあ I noticed the "moth" issue a while ago, in more than one language. I think someone (or a bunch of someones) is trolling google translate community translate.google.com/community translating everything as "moth". Nowadays Google translate is community-driven and not statistics-driven, and that system is great as long as there's not a lot of bad actors trolling in a synchronized manner.
    – Arie
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 10:21
  • @Arie Would be interesting if this bad actor was Cicada, huh?
    – user22337
    Commented Apr 20, 2019 at 4:31

1 Answer 1


Google Translate, and indeed just about any machine translation engine, is still often shit for the Japanese ↔ English language pair. Do not rely on Google Translate to learn another language, especially when looking at a single word.

Here are some time-of-day terms:

  • 朝【あさ】 = "morning"
  • 昼【ひる】 = "day, afternoon"
  • 晩【ばん】 = "evening"
  • 夜【よる】 = "late evening, night"

See also this recent post: What's the difference among 夜中, 真夜中 and 夜?

PS: For what it's worth, the actual word for "moth" is 蛾【が】. I recommend that you use any of various online dictionaries when exploring a single word. Here are some freebies:

Digression, and example of the perils of machine translation

The original post included the kanji 晚, technically Unicode codepoint 665A.

The above is the 旧【きゅう】字【じ】体【たい】 or "old form" of the 新【しん】字【じ】体【たい】 or "new form" kanji 晩, technically Unicode codepoint 6669.

Google Translate (mostly) correctly translates the shinjitai kanji as "night".

Correct translation when using U+6669

However, even though the kyūjitai character has the same meaning, Google mistranslates this as "moth" if the source language is set to Japanese.

Mistranslation of U+665A when source language is set to "Japanese"

When auto-detected, Google [on my machine, anyway] identifies this as Chinese and translates it as "late".

Correct translation of U+665A when source language is auto-detected as "Chinese"

Truly, caveat usuarius.

  • That's a great point, in seeing that more and more these generic translation services fail as you learn more. I've used Jisho! Going to use that over the translation apps from now on.
    – greg
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 18:46
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    @Leebo -- aha, it's doing it for the alternative-form kyūjitai kanji . Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 21:52
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi You should post a screenshot of the error in case Google fixes this. For posterity
    – Ringil
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 23:10
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi If you copy the image onto your clipboard, you can just paste it into your answer. (or upload it).
    – Ringil
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 23:43
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi That happens with many single characters that dont have a kunyomi reading. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 6:21

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