The word 結構 ([けっこう]{HLLL}), as in "結構幸せです", functions as either an adverb or an adjective, and it now means something like "quite" or "fine" (the "no thanks" meaning in "結構です" seems like an extension of "fine").

However, it very obviously derives from Chinese 結構 (jiégòu), which is a noun meaning "structure".

How did it come to have its current meaning in Japanese? What steps did it go through to get from "structure" to "fine"/"quite"?

Wiktionary claims that there's another meaning (pronounced [けっこう]{LHHH}) of "assembly", which can also be used with -する to mean "assemble", but my wife has never run across this meaning in the wild. Even assuming that's one of the steps, it's not clear to me how you get from there to "quite"/"fine".

1 Answer 1


As you mentioned, 結構 comes from the Chinese language and means "structure" or "composition," as in the "structure of buildings" or the "composition of sentences." When the word landed in Japan, it came to mean "plan" or "preparation," and later by extension, a "splendid plan" or "wonderful preparation." Other layers such as "polite" or "good-natured" were added over time.

The layer of "no, thanks!" evolved from the nuance of being "satisfied."


語源由来辞典 > 結構


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