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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111 views

What is the etymology of ~らぐ verbs?

What is the etymology of verbs like [安]{やす}らぐ, [和]{やわ}らぐ, [薄]{うす}らぐ, [平]{たひ}らぐ, etc.? I know they all come from adjectives, but where does the 〜ぐ come from? Maybe [揺]{ゆ}らぐ could also fit into this ...
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Meaning of キリ型 (can’t find in dictionaries)

Saw this term in a manga and can’t find a good explanation of what it is. The text says ドライバー(キリ型)で底をキレイにするわ (底 refers to the sole of a shoe) However, the image seems to resemble more an awl than ...
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How are 造語 like ググる or スタバる used and by whom?

I'm trying to find out more about innovative verbs that come from loanwords, and i have a couple questions about them: Are they used by older people/in formal situations? Or are they really slang? I'm ...
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What do the names 不二夫 and 不二雄 mean?

I am from Hong Kong. I know Chinese language. I know very little about Japnanese language. My question is - What do the names 不二夫 and 不二雄 mean? Do they mean "loyal man/hero"? Links to ...
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176 views

What does 聞く actually represent (if it means both ask and listen)?

Usually, when words have multiple meanings (/translations) they're all just translations/branches of the same idea (eg. 頼む is listed as '1. to request; to beg; to ask ​2. to call; to order; to reserve​...
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111 views

Why do some endings have no verbs for them? I.e. ず・ぷ・ゆ

There seem to be a limited number of u-row characters that do not have verbs associated with them, and I'm curious why some of them do not exist. There once were ふ verbs, but there are no ぷ、ず、ゆ、づ ...
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What does 「フトアゴヒゲ」mean in 「フトアゴヒゲトカゲ」(“Central Bearded Dragon​” lizard)?

I'm guessing ヒゲ means hair, which makes sense since the lizard has "bearded" in its name. Not sure about the rest of the フトアゴ.
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112 views

Where did 初めて and 初めまして come from, if not from 初める(はじめる not そめる)?

Did 初める(はじめる) used to exist as a verb? It's not present today except as a frequent tripping stone for kanji autocomplete. However, the 初めまして word's まして seems to imply that this was a verb that could ...
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What's the etymology of まほし?

What's the etymology of まほし? Considering it goes after the 未然形, is it something like む -> ま (未然形) + [欲]{ほ}し, or is it a totally different etymology altogether? Thanks in advance.
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What is the origin and meaning of the street names 一年坂, 二年坂 and 三年坂 in Higashiyama, Kyoto?

Obviously "1-year hill", etc., but what is the context of that? And sometimes we see it spelled with 念 (nen) or 寧 (nei) instead of 年 (nen). Why is that, and which one would be correct?
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Connotations of 身もふたもないこと

My question is about the expression "身もふたもないこと". I know that "身もふたもない" means blunt or point-blank, but is there any additional connotation such as "stupid" or "silly&...
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Etymology of 轢く

I am trying, without luck, to figure out the etymology of the word 轢{ひ}く. Note that I'm not talking about the kanji here, but the usage of ひく to carry this specific meaning. My dictionary, スーパー大辞林, ...
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Origin of seemingly opposite figurative meanings of 浮く

I've recently come across the following two definitions of 浮く in two different stories: Being cheerful, happy (in context the character was happy about spending time with friend and telling her ...
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Where does the ます形 masu form comes from? I noticed that the す conjugates like the Kyoto dialect [duplicate]

I really can't figure out where the masu form comes from. I thought it might be from kobun volitional む + causative す but that's -(a)ます not -(i)ます. Both conjugations of ません and ましょう are identical to ...
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Is 仕方 a particular case of the pattern V連用形 + 方?

There is a pattern to express the way of doing things. First comes a verb in the 連用形 form, and after that comes the word 方{かた}. For example: 食べ + 方 → 食べ方 (the way of eating) 読み + 方 → 読み方 (the way of ...
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174 views

波比不部保 ([B] sounds) → はひふへほ ([h] or [f] sounds)

Hiragana (平仮名 or 平假名) has its cursive form originated from the Chinese cursive form 草書. You can read from https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%B9%B3%E4%BB%AE%E5%90%8D. Also https://www.hana300.com/aakana....
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Is Japanese に related to the Chinese character 仁?

Is Japanese に (pronounced as "ni") related to the Chinese character 仁 (pronounced as "ren" in Chinese mandarin)? Does the に have the root from the Chinese character 仁? They both ...
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447 views

Why is 「パッと」 part Katakana and part Hiragana?

I have run across this onomatopoeia twice now in music lyrics: 打上花火 by DAOKO × 米津玄師: 「パッと光って咲いた 花火を見てた」 GHOST by 星街すいせい: 「パッと弾けた感情に」 Having seen this occur twice now, I felt it was safe to assume ...
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254 views

Why are there so many three kana kunyomi verbs beginning with あ?

謝る、扱う、現れる、表す、諦める、争う、改める、… Why are there so many verbs beginning with あ and with three kana kunyomi? Is there some etymological reason for this? I can't imagine this is completely incidental, though ...
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Why does あらぬ方向 mean “a different direction”?

「いつになく母親は、 「もう、晩ごはんはないですからね」 と父親に強くいった。そういわれて父親は、黙ってあらぬ方向をみていた。それから一週間というものは、ずーっと暗かった。」(無印良女 by 群ようこ) "Unlike her usual self, my mother said strongly to my father, "There won't be any more ...
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Why are 关 and 复 half-width in Japanese?

关 and 复 are the simplified Chinese forms of 關 and 復複覆, respectively. Usually simplified Hanzi that don't exist as kanji don't get any special treatment and Japanese fonts might not even display them, ...
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97 views

What does 豪 mean?

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 ...
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What is the etymology of さて, and why are the kanji 偖・扠・扨 used for it?

This is a relatively simple question: what is the etymology of さて, and why are the kanji 偖・扠・扨 used for it?
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112 views

What is the meaning of 礼楽?

I was checking the definition of 堂 in my online dictionary (大辞林) when I came across the word 礼楽 in: 堂 → 客に接したり,礼楽を行なったりする所。== Hall → a place where you can interact with customers and perform ritual ...
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Where does the -a stem come from with auxiliary-constructed transitive/intransitive verb pairs if the base verb is a 二段活用 (or カ行変格活用)?

It seems to be generally understood that transitive/intransitive verb pairs, when they are not a 四段活用 and a 二段活用 that share the same 終止形, were created by taking a base verb, whether transitive or ...
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What's the etymological linkage of 「眉{まゆ}」and「繭{まゆ}」?

I found the etymology of 「眉{まゆ}」 from 眉/まゆ - 語源由来辞典 眉は目の上にあることから、「マノウヘ(目の上)」もしくは「マウヘ(目上)」の意味と考えられる。 ただし、古くは「マヨ」と言い、「マヨ」が音変化して「まゆ」となっている。 そのため、「マノウヘ」「マウヘ」が直接音変化したものではなく、「目の上」の意味を表す言葉に「マヨ」があり、...
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What was the movement of tea leaves called before it was called ジャンピング?

I recently learned that apparently the phenomenon of tea leaves moving up and down in very hot water is called ジャンピング (See example videos). This surprises me a bit as I would certainly expect that ...
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117 views

What does こき mean?

I've seen こき being used in expressions such as in こき使う (with the meaning of work someone hard) and 嘘こき (used to refer to someone who lies a lot, apparently). I haven't found this expression's meaning ...
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頭【かぶり】を振る and 頭【かしら】を横に振る, why the change in pronunciation?

As the title suggests, why is there a change in pronunciation between 頭【かぶり】を振る and 頭【かしら】を横に振る? As far as I can see, there is no difference between the meanings of the two—デジタル大辞泉 even lists the ...
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Why use 一本 in the expression 一本取る

I was watching an episode of ファニエスト外語学院 on judo. At 6:26, the judoka remarked how his opponent ボビー could win him just by his horrid face, saying 「顔で一本取られた」って感じです. I am interested in understanding why ...
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Why is あやまち written 過ち and not 誤ち?

What's the reason for writing あやまち 過ち and not for instance 誤ち ? Wouldn't that make more sense since it means to err, be incorrect...? I can see how one would get from exceeding/overdoing a mistake, ...
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Where did the terms 「口ばっか大臣」「口だけ大臣」come from?

I just heard the term 「口ばっか大臣」in『荒ぶる季節の乙女どもよ』. Story 菅原:体だけで見られてたって…今はかまわないです。だって…性欲と感情は切り離せないものだから 和紗:ちょ…ちょっと待って!男子は性欲と感情を切り離して考えるって、菅原氏言ってた!確かに言ってた! 菅原:だから、私は口ばっか大臣だったの It seems another similar ...
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パンの耳? How did 耳 end up meaning edge/crust?

100% a curiosity question, but I recently stumbled across some older blog posts about a silly debate of "should you eat all your pizza crust?" and I was surprised to see the phrase ピザの耳 ...
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What's the origin of ~み following a 形容詞?

I found a HiNative question where someone asked about the difference between [痛]{いた}さ and [痛]{いた}み. A native Japanese speaker gave this answer: 「痛さ」は形容詞「痛い」が名詞化した名詞です。 「痛み」は動詞「痛む」の連用形が名詞化した名詞です。 I ...
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How come such a “strong” expression as なるほど is used in such a “soft” meaning?

Usually ほど is used to refer to some degree/extend that is in some way high, or even approaching/reaching some upper limit. Given how precise(※) and reserved Japanese usually is, I find it surprising ...
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Strictly speaking, are 重箱読み and 湯桶読み mostly 漢語 or 和語, or 50-50?

Today in a comment on a Japanese forum I said: 日本語には主に「漢語」、「和語」、「外来語」三つの語彙体系があります。漢語というのは中国語から借用された語彙体系です。例:漢語、高校、勉強。 二文字の言葉はほとんど漢語です、カタカナ語がほとんど外来語のように。ファン:外来語。質問:漢語。分かる:和語。 Then someone said I was ...
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Where does the irregular reading of 迷子 come from?

迷子 is read as まいご, despite the on-reading of 迷 being めい (for example in 迷惑(めいわく) ). Why is that the case? I would assume that this is not a case of jukujikun. What I do find interesting is that the ...
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205 views

Is it correct to split the reading あした of 明日 as 明(あ)日(した)?

As far as I understand 明日(あした) is jukujikun (also called semantic ateji), so, as with for example 今日, I would expect for the "reading" to be considered over the whole word, instead of being ...
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the word “Buster” in action-centered fiction

I've noticed that across videogames and anime that focus on fighting and action, the word "buster" is frequently applied as the name of a super powerful weapon. For example, Gunbusters from ...
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91 views

The Origin of のだ

I've recently been trying to fit the explanation particle のだ in with the logic of Japanese and I was wondering if it had its roots in another Japanese word or something of the sort. Particularly, it ...
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755 views

What is the origin of 場所?

The kanji compound 場所 is bugging me. For the longest time, I did not know how to pronounce it, oscillating between ばどころ and じょうしょ. The correct pronunciation, however, is ばしょ. This is weird to me, ...
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Is there a reason for 乞う to conjugate to 乞うて? [duplicate]

Usually, when conjugating Godan verbs ending with う into て-form, you would get って instead. Is there an etymological reason for this exception for 乞うて? I saw this in a rather recent book written in the ...
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814 views

What's up with animal names ending in る?

猿・ツル・ホタル・カエル る is a rather uncommon mora in nouns, especially at the end. But there seem to be an unproportional amount of animal names that end in る. Is that just a coincidence? For 猿 at least, there ...
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3answers
150 views

What is the adverb すこぶる etymologically?

I came across the adverb すこぶる "greatly, extremely" and initially mistook it for a godan verb. This seemed to me an unusual 'shape' for an adverb -- what's the etymology of this adverb, and ...
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457 views

Etymology of 「芝生」 and pronunciation of 「生」 here

「芝生」 is pronounced as しばふ, I wonder why 生 here is pronounced ふ, and is there any word containing 生 pronounced ふ?
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782 views

たいまつ , why is it in this order: 松明?

So torch is たいまつ, and is written in kanji as 松明. Matsu, however, means pine, which is the first kanji, not the second. Are there many words like this in Japanese that seem "out of order"? Is ...
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153 views

What is the reason for the odd vowel values of Japanese ココア?

I've done a bit of digging, and for the life of me, I cannot find any clear record or explanation for why Japanese ココア is pronounced the way it is. Sources researched to date: Lots of different ...
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1answer
103 views

む verbs and corresponding ましい adjectives

In studying words like 羨ましい and 勇ましい, I've noticed that there are almost always corresponding (mostly transitive) む verbs: 羨む -> 羨ましい 勇む -> 勇ましい (transitive version seems to be archaic) 好む -> ...
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92 views

Are there other compounds with 分 where it is read as いた as in 大分県?

Not sure if 分 is ita or ta in 大分県, but anyway, kind of hard to find anything in the dictionary so if anyone knows a compound with that reading off the top of their head it would be appreciated!
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97 views

What's the etymology of 「うつむく・俯く」?

Is 「うつむく・俯く」 a compound of 「うつ+むく」? What does 「うつ」 mean here, and what's its origin? Thanks!

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