What does 豪 mean in word 豪州 (Australia). I wanted to know the etymology of 豪 (I know what does 州 part means). Also I wanted to know if it is pronounced as "Gōshū" or not.

(I made a mistake before and mistook 豪 for 濠, this is the second question about this topic)

1 Answer 1


From Wikipedia:


Your previous confusion of 濠 and 豪 actually makes sense in this context, as 「濠太剌利」「濠洲{ごうしゅう}」「豪洲{ごうしゅう}」are all ateji. Basically the idea is when a non-Chinese foreign word like "Australia" comes to Japan, an attempt is made to phonetically represent the word with kanji, borrowing only the kanji's pronunciations irrespective of their meanings.

The name for Australia was thus first introduced as 「濠太剌利」, shortened to 「濠洲」, and the two kanji, since they are not on the list of 常用漢字 (regular kanji), were later replaced by two other similarly pronounced kanji on that list, 豪 and 州. By the way the さんずい (水部 water radical) makes sense in the context of Australia, because 洲 means or used to mean "land surrounded by water". See the Wikipedia page on 「洲」vs.「州」:


These days since 洲 is not on the list and thus not considered a regular kanji, it is replaced by 州 in almost all contexts except holdover place names.


As I am discussing the provenance of this word and its historical pronunciation, I am reluctant to render it as 「濠太剌利{オーストラリア}」. I can't find a source but I don't think it was originally pronounced オーストラリア. It is pronounced as such these days for sure but it is very common that country names vary without standardization when first introduced into a new language. 剌利 was probably pronounced ラリ.

  • 1
    Curious what you find re: historical pronunciations. The expected reading of the kanji spelling 濠太剌利 would be ごうたらつり. Very odd to lose the initial //ɡ//, add in the //su//, shift from //ta// to //to//, lose the //t͡su//, and add the //a// on the end. Seems more likely that the kanji reflect an older (mis?)pronunciation, and then the spelling was kept even though the pronunciation shifted. Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 22:44
  • @EiríkrÚtlendi Thanks! I didn't really expand on that part since I wasn't confident at all about how 濠太剌利 would've been pronounced. After all, neither 濠 nor 豪 is a kanji that people see all that often. I wonder if 剌 would've been used in place of just ラ. Most places I've looked list ラツ as its 音読み. Only one site includes an additional シ. But we have 蘇門答剌{スマトラ}, 亜剌比亜{アラビア}, 伯剌西爾{ブラジル}, beside 濠太剌利. I wonder if you'd shed some light on this.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 23:02
  • My suspicion is that many of these odd spelling-reading mismatches arise due to Chinese. I don't know about 濠太剌利, but I have run into cases in the past where the reading makes no sense from a Japanese on'yomi perspective, but does make sense from a Mandarin, Cantonese, or Min perspective. I'll do some digging too. Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 23:04
  • 1
    Sumatra's spelling appears to be from Chinese, see the Japanese Wikipedia article, sourcing that to Zheng He. I note that the 蘇門答剌 spelling for "Sumatra" is an alternative spelling for the Chinese Wikipedia article, redirecting to the main one. The 伯剌西爾 spelling for "Brazil" is also an alternative spelling for the Chinese Wikipedia article, also a redirect to the main spelling of 巴西. Can't yet find anything definitive for Arabia. Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 23:32
  • 1
    Apparently the first character 濠 is pronounced as háo in Mandarin, hou⁴ in Cantonese, and as in Min Nan, if the EN Wiktionary page is correct. Any of these is already a better match than the Japanese on'yomi of . Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 0:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .