Questions tagged [etymology]

語源. The study of the origin of words and the historical development of their meanings. Sometimes used for kanji as well; we currently don't have a separate tag for character origins.

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40 views

What is the origin of pharmacists being called 'yakuzaishi' in japanese? Is there some relation to the yakuza?

I was doing a quick google translate search to look for the Japanese word for pharmacist. Turns out it is yakuzaishi. Ishi means doctor & Yakuza is obviously the well-known criminal syndicate. It ...
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Etymology of the exclamation 「よし」

What is the etymology of the exclamation 「よし!」? I mean the one that's made before people decide to take some kind of action (such as standing up, or starting to do the dishes).
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How did 引っ込む and 引き込む end up with different meanings despite looking very similar?

I noticed that most compound verbs take the stem form of a verb and attach it to another verb. When I saw 引っ込む, I just took it as a compound of 引く and 込む... until I found 引き込む which is closer in ...
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Is ずから a productive structure?

Recently, I was reminded of 手ずから again and connected it to 自ら{みずか} and おのずから this time. I was wondering if the structure ずから is used anywhere else? Some research seems to indicate that might be ...
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What does the 匂 in 匂い mean?

匂い (におい) refers to a fragrance, or something that is nice-smelling. As far as I know, this kanji is only used for this word in Japanese. I notice that the character 匂 is uncommon. The usage of 匂 is ...
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How was こき使う formed?

I was reading a manga called Rengoku ni Warau and Kaishin said: ったく、人をこき使いやがって あのジジィほっつき歩いてやがる Jisho says that こき使い means pushing someone around or to work someone hard but it doesn't seem to fit ...
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what does いたまえ mean and how was it conjugated? [duplicate]

I was wondering what does いたまえ mean I really don't know the main word when I searched and I don't know how it was conjugated this sentence was from oregairu season 1 ep 4 near the start 好きな者達と組んでもらうから ...
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576 views

What is オーション and why is it called that?

A recipe for home-made ramen calls for オーション. I am having a hard time figuring out what that is exactly, having checked dictionaries and Google Translate to no avail. I did find several online ...
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Why does the kanji for coffee have a king 王 radical?

The Chinese character for coffee is 咖啡 while the Japanese kanji is 珈琲. The mouth 口 radical seems more appropriate than the king 王 / jade 玉 radical. Most kanji come from Chinese characters and are ...
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Why is there a し in 嫉妬し蹴落とそうとする?

Hi I found a sentence earlier with 嫉妬し蹴落とそうとする and I do not know why し is put there. Anyway, I thought it was the reasoning marker but it does not sound like it from the audio and I don't know what ...
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What is the difference between 言いだし and 言いだす?

I found a sentence earlier containing the word 言いだしづら but I parsed it to 2 words and I found I did not know 言いだし so I looked it up and found 言いだす (which I know the meaning of), but I also found ...
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What's the meaning of 通じづらい, and how was it conjugated?

I was wondering what the meaning of 通じづらい is, and how it was conjugated. I know づらい means "difficult" or "hard to" but I can't find the exact meaning of 通じ. Here is the sentence. The context is that ...
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Do ふえる and へる have a common etymology?

I was reviewing my Anki cards and it said that 減少 and 増加 are antonyms. Now, for extra practice, I try to give at least one kunyomi reading to each kanji. Then it occured to me that ふえる and へる sounded ...
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Does 左様なら (sayōnara) have Chinese roots?

A related question: What does さようなら (左様なら) have to do with "left"? The English-language A.Word.A.Day list this week is doing a "Words borrowed from Japanese" theme; today's word was ...
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Tom Nook “Tanukichi”

So a random stroll through Wikipedia reveals that Tanuki or "raccoon dogs" have a fascinating place in Japanese folklore. It seems Nintendo often includes tanuki or tanuki aspects in its games. In ...
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Goo Dictionary: What does it mean? [closed]

I’m sure you guys are well aware of the Japanese dictionary Goo. https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/ Why is it called “Goo”? Even in romaji, Goo sounds unusual. I doubt it refers to the English meaning of ...
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幼稚園 coincidental similarity with english/german?

Isn't it a bit strange that it has 園 at the end? Was this word actually made in Japan after they knew about kindergarten ?
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Is the word ムキムキ a deliberate visual pun?

I recently learned the word ムキムキ and what instantly struck me was how it appears to be some kind of a visual pun. ム representing a flexed arm 💪 キ representing a classic barbell Together they ...
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承る and 賜る: are they etymologically related? [duplicate]

I was studying kanji when I noticed that 承{うけたまわ}る and 賜{たまわ}る share 「たまわる」and they do seem to have related meanings. In fact, it appears to me that 承る is a compound verb that combines 受ける and 賜る but ...
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What does Kenneth Henshall mean by “X is used phonetically to express Y”?

Henshall seems to have a quite specific idea about how many phonetic elements end up in characters, which diverges from explanations I find online, but I'm not sure I'm reading him correctly. ...
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Is あらまあ linked to Malay “alamak”, and which came first?

A popular theory claims that that the Japanese expression あらまあ is directly related to the Malay alamak (pronounced more or less identically, since the "k" is just a glottal stop), with speculation ...
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Why is the Japanese term for grammatical case 「格」? How did this translation come to be?

From Google's definition of 格: きまり。法則。標準。  「格式・格言・合格・別格・破格・規格・本格・古格・適格・律令格式(りつりょうきゃくしき)」 《名・造》地位。身分。程度。  「格が違う」 方形に組みあわせた材。  「骨格・格子(こうし)・格天井(ごうてんじょう)」 くる。いたる。とおる。きわめる。  「格物致知」 ...
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Insight into one of Japan's regions which is called 中国

I was doing some research into the difference between Japanese states, regions, prefectures, etc. today when I noticed that one of the regions is called ちゅうごく (中国). Is there a reason that one of the ...
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108 views

Insight into 林檎 and 苹果

Insight into 林檎 and 苹果 Are both forms used by Japanese people? If so, which form is more common? Is there some nuanced difference between them? I know 苹果 more closely reflects the Chinese 苹果. ...
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Meaning and usage of よほどのこと

In this answer it is incidentally mentioned that よほどのこと means "something very unusual/extraordinary". I'm struggling to find this definition in a dictionary, no matter whether I look up the whole ...
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Etymology of レントゲン?

What is the etymology of レントゲン (X-Ray) < From Genki II Lesson 12>? Is it a borrowed word <外来語> from another language? Translate suggests using X線 instead of レントゲン, but I'm not sure what the ...
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Is ま (ma) related to ほ (ho) or は (ha) related to よ (yo)? What does adding a bar to the left mean?

I understand these character similarities might be arbitrary, like M and W being flipped. But it's tripping me up enough times that I thought if I knew a reason, perhaps it would help me memorize ...
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1answer
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What is the etymological origin of the word キノピオ (Toad in Super Mario Bros)?

I just found out the Toad character from the Super Mario Bros is known as キノピオ in Japan. Where does that name come from? I know 茸 (きのこ) means mushroom, but what does the suffix -ピオ stand for? Thanks ...
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The 平仮名 and 片仮名 kanji

I'm trying to increase my kanji and pretty much look up the kanji for everything these days. I discovered that the kanji for ひらがな and カタカナare 平仮名 and 片仮名 respectively. Any explanation for the choice ...
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727 views

Is there anything special about single vowel words?

I'm not sure if this is a useful question or not. But I was surprised to notice まさか (masaka) was using a single vowel (a) for the whole word. The surprise came from the connection to "bakana" (バカな) ...
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1answer
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Use of かと思ったら / かと思うと (in the context of as soon as, just when)

かと思ったら / かと思うと mean "just when; no sooner than" but what is their use (oral/written, formal/normal) ? Do native use that construction naturally or is it replaced by another one ? And I am also ...
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2answers
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Why does 滑り出し mean 'beginning'?

In Samurai Gourmet, Kasumi says: 滑り出しは順調だ! I can see why 滑り出し could mean beginning (imagining myself at the top of a large waterslide) but I'm curious to know if there is any historical context ...
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Question regarding the 「⻏」radical

I’ve put ⻏ in the search function but got no result. There are two ⻏radicals. Their origins are different but they are visually identical. On Jisho: But in a different dictionary (an app I got for my ...
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What is the etymology of the word あなた?

Is there any relation to "anatta", the Buddhist concept of non-self? I've heard that Japanese has some slight Pali/Sanskrit influences due to the arrival of Buddhism in Japan. Could these words be ...
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232 views

Which god does 神様 actually refer to?

I have the impression that if a Japanese uses the term 神様, they refer to an omnipotent deity very similar to the Abrahamic god. According to my (very limited) knowledge of Shinto and Buddhism, there ...
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How did 沢山 (たくさん) come to mean “many”?

There are understandably a lot of words in Japanese that are made of Kanji totally unrelated to the meaning of the actual word. However, it's hard to ignore the ubiquitous 沢山. How did a combination ...
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Squareness of kanji characters

Is there, even if it's speculative, any explanation to the squareness of kanji characters? Why are 口, 回 or 円 not circles or round like の, for example? Was making circles with early day tools too ...
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Why does the word for “high school” use 校 instead of 学?

I'm learning Japanese on Duolingo and they're starting to teach me some vocabulary about schooling. Things like 大学, 中学, 小学, and... 高校? I know that 学校 is the kanji spelling of "school," but why does "...
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Name for Spain in kanji 西班牙

I wonder if the name for Spain in Japanese is 西班牙 (west, group, tusk?) because it has some implicit meaning (like English expression as 'horn of Africa', 'strait of ...', Middle Kingdom, ) or it just ...
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2answers
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Connection between 〜い adjectives and 〜く verbs?

The following pairs of inflections got me thinking a little bit. 〜く verb plain/te, for example: 働く・働いて 〜い adjective plain/nai, for example: 甘い・甘くない Both of these suggest that there is perhaps some ...
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What is the origin of word 勉強 meaning “to study/learn”?

As a native Chinese speaker, 勉强 means something very different (it means to be reluctant or forced to do something) for the same kanji/漢字. Might anyone know how it came to mean learning or studying in ...
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Differences between ひ弱い and か弱い

How did the prefixes ひ and か come about and what are the differences in meaning between ひ弱い and か弱い? Are either of the prefixes pejorative like how ド is in the examples in dainichi's answer to '...
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How did 達 (~tachi) come to mean `pluralize` something?

When doing some studying, I came across the verb 達成する which means to achieve/accomplish. When looking up 達 I realized that this is the commonly used ~達{たち} suffix which used to pluralize something. I ...
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162 views

what does 素 mean in 素数?

Composite number is translated as 合成数 (by google translation to Japanese), which makes sense. Prime number is called 素数, but what does 素 means here? I am trying to trace the source of it. We ...
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What is the etymology of the phrase 隴を得て蜀を望む?

I just came across this phrase, which is listed in the dictionary as: never being satisfied with what one gets, and always wanting more; giving someone an inch and having them take a mile; taking ...
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Is the yasumi in oyasuminasai the same as yasumi (day off / break)?

I have known oyasuminasai (good night) for around a year now. Today I learned the word yasumi (break / day off). It instantly rang a bell and then oyasuminasai sprung to mind. Is there a connection ...
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142 views

What are「熄み」's etymology and meaning

「熄み」appears in a song「インフェルノ」 照らすは闇 僕らは歩き慣れてきた日々も淘汰 夢は安泰な暮らしだが 刺激不足故にタラタラ 照らすは熄み 僕らの歩き慣れていた道はどこだ 時はたまに癪だが 温もりに包まれ只 It is pronounced やみ in the song, the same as 闇. I have never seen this word ...
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Is 人孔 from English?

I was discussing with a friend about the word 人孔, and I know I read (or was told) that it's taken from the English "manhole", literally juxtaposing the kanji for "man" with that for "hole", since for ...
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107 views

Loaned female first names

Are Japanese first names Erika, Emiri, Marie etc. loaned from gai(koku)jin languages?
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Meaning and origin of 「退がる」

I was reading a manga and a character said: 今宵はここまでだ 下がって良いぞ After they noticed that the person they were talking to didn't move, they said: おい 余は退がれと 言ったのだ That's why I'm guessing 退がる ...

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