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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6
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1answer
132 views

Origin of japanese metasyntactic variables 「ほげ」

Metasyntactic variables are using in programming as placeholders. Wikipedia mentions several Japanese words used in this fashion, and I would like to know how they came about. ほげ - hoge ぴよ - piyo ふが -...
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2answers
128 views

Does the word for squid (ika) come from another language?

My book lists a number of kinds of fishes and sea creatures. The names are given in hiragana for all except that for squid for which it is given in katakana. イカ Does the word ika come from another ...
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1answer
55 views

られる honorific/polite versus passive origin

Is the られる used as a honorific (some sources use "polite", but I assume it's a honorific?) related to the passive form (perhaps it's alternative usage) or is it something that emerged separately? (...
2
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1answer
182 views

Etymology of 急須

A 急須 (kyūsu) is a teapot. If you are really thirsty you may feel an urgent need for one, but otherwise the etymology is not self-evident. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/急須#Japanese lacks etymological ...
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1answer
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Is reasonable to assume that the 食 in 月食/日食 can be interpreted as the sun/moon being “eaten” during an eclipse?

So I'm quite new to Japanese, and I'm having a blast being able to understand some basic compound words based on individual kanji, and in some cases the process is quite straightforward. However, I ...
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1answer
123 views

What is the etymology of あした?

I speak Chinese as well as Japanese. In Chinese, the etymology for 明天 and 明日 are the same in written Chinese and spoken Chinese. This got me curious about the etymology in Japanese. In written ...
2
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1answer
120 views

Origin of words for eating manners

What is the cultural/religious origin of itadakimasu and gochisosama?
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30 views

What is the etymology for 面白い? [duplicate]

With the meaning of the kanji being “mask/face” and “white,” why do they come together to mean “interesting” and “funny”?
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1answer
209 views

What's the origin of the title 親王?

As far as I know, prior to the adoption of the title "Emperor" in ancient China by Shihuangdi (who claimed to be the first 皇帝 (huangdi), from the titles of 8 ancient godly beings), 王 was the sole ...
3
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1answer
67 views

Understanding the connection between adverbs and adjective negation

い-adjectives negate in the following way. 「大{おお}きい」→「大きくない」 How I've always interpreted process is that we're basically changing the adjective 「大きい」 into the adverb form 「大きく」 and then tacking on 「...
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1answer
142 views

Is there a common etymology for the kanji 巳 and 己 and 已?

The three characters 巳 and 己 and 已 are visually very similar, but do they have a common etymology or any overlap in terms of semantic content? Any information would be appreciated.
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Why do so many kanji for body parts have the radical 「月」? [duplicate]

What is the etymological reason for words like 胸, 肘, 腹, 腕, and 脚 to have 月? Is it phonetic at all or does it contribute meaning?
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1answer
183 views

Origin of こんな, そんな, あんな and どんな

I wondered why こんな, そんな, あんな and どんな can be used prenominally without any particles. Due to the lack of a proper etymology dictionary in my possession (a recommendation would be appreciated), I came ...
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1answer
152 views

で in the copula である

I have always wondered where the で in ~である (and ~でございます) comes from. In the answer to the question 「です」, what is it really? Is my analysis correct?, Eiríkr Útlendi states that the で in ~である is the ...
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2answers
230 views

Why is 'no smoking' 禁煙, whereas 'to smoke' is 吸う?

Why is 'no smoking' [禁煙]{きんえん} (lit. 'smoke is prohibited'), whereas 'to smoke' is [吸]{す}う (lit. 'to inhale (smoke)')? In English (and some other languages), the verb 'to smoke' is related to the noun ...
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2answers
98 views

Elongated お in the volitional verb form

In native Japanese words (that I know of at least) like 通り and 大きい, to elongate the お-sound, another お is added when written in Hiragana (instead of う like in Sino-Japanese words). However, it just ...
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2answers
334 views

Why would parents ever want to name their daughters with the following names?

During my studying via Kanji Study app I came across the kanji for the word, pardon my French, vagina. Of course, I was curious whether the names with the kanji existed. "Nah," I thought. "There is no ...
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0answers
50 views

Etymological connection between 戻る and 元

It just crossed my mind that both 戻る and 元 sound really similar. The Japanese Wiktionary page on 戻る even lists its first definition as "元の場所に帰る". Consonants becoming voiced also seems to be common in ...
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3answers
258 views

Kanji etymology of 毎?

what does 母 have to do with 毎? is there any link at all or did it come together randomly? does it have to do with the Chinese pronunciation?
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0answers
73 views

What is the etymology of タマ in タマを取る?

It seems that when spoken by/in regards to Yakuza, the phrase タマを取る means to take someone's life. However, I've seen some explanations saying タマ comes from 頭{あたま} and others say that it comes from 魂{...
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1answer
104 views

Where does っぱい derive from?

As it says in the title, I'm hoping to find out where the adjective ending -っぱい comes from (like in 酸っぱい 'sour'). Is it related to -っぽい (X-like, X-ish) at all? I can't seem to find an etymology for it ...
8
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1answer
744 views

Why the difference in metal between 銀行 and お金?

Money seems to be about gold but banks about silver. Is this due to an evolution of the status of the valuable metals themselves? Is it a complicated (e.g. ateji) etymology?
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1answer
784 views

Etymology of 見舞い

Visiting someone in hospital clearly involves seeing that person. But dancing? Does 舞 have some other, relevant meaning? Did it pertain to a traditional, sacred dance for health? Or is this ateji?
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2answers
295 views

What is the origin of 落第?

I see how 落 can be a failure. But how is 第 relevant to failing an exam, is this a meaning other than 'number, -th' or implicitly falling below first place?
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1answer
122 views

What is the origin of 落ち着く?

The verb 落ち着く means 'to calm down', but neither constituent pertains to any sort of emotion. Was there originally a subject or object (e.g. temper coming down)?
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1answer
136 views

Etymology of 引き分け: same as English?

The verb 引く gives 引き出し ('drawer'), which is a straightforward etymology shared by Japanese and English (and French and probably more). But 引き分け seems to also have an etymology similar to 'draw' (as '...
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1answer
150 views

How to look up for stems (in the etymological sense)

I find it helpful (and fun) to learn a group of words that are connected etymologically. For example, the stem うら(裏、心) is related to so many words ranging from JLPT N1 to N5 including: うら(裏) 憂う 嬉しい ...
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0answers
95 views

Etymology of 山賊

The contrastive pair made by 山賊 (brigand) and 海賊 (pirate) works pretty well on a mountainous island, where there are few other places for banditry. But if the words are of Chinese origin, this ...
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1answer
97 views

Is the 'wa' in wasabi and wakame related?

Wasabi and wakame seem to have different Japanese characters and also different Chinese ideograms. My first guess is that the 'wa' in wasabi and wakame is coincidence. But. Are they related words? ...
2
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1answer
143 views

What are the nuances between the use of 訊く instead of 聞く in the following sentence?

I know that 訊く is another way to write 聞く, so now I'm curious as to why the author of the book used it here instead of 聞く, which has been used for all previous instances in the book. こちらから訊くより先に、...
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0answers
124 views

Why does いい加減 have diametrically opposite meanings?

When scolding a misbehaving child, we tell them to be iikagen: いい加減にしなさい。 But we can also tell a misbehaving child to stop being iikagen, or describe something bad as iikagen: もういい加減でやめなさい。 ...
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1answer
202 views

What is the etymology of the kanji 寺?

This kanji has : - 止(phonetic) + 寸(hand : semantic) and the 止 part became 土 later But I found in some resources this interpretations which explain "止" function in the kanji so I wanna know which on ...
4
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1answer
178 views

What is the etymology of the kanji 石?

Kanji "stone" contains (cliff 厂 + mouth 口).. my question is what is the idea of mixing mouth with cliff ... the cliff function here is clear because it's some thing related with stone.. but what is ...
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2answers
202 views

What is the etymology of モテる?

Where does モテ come from? モテる to be popular with opposite sex.
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1answer
303 views

What is the etymology of the kanji 金?

Trying to look up the etymology of the kanji 金, every reference seems to give a different explanation. Let me ask about two references (Wiktionary and Hanziyuan) Wiktionary gives the following ...
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1answer
283 views

Is 長 in Japanese related to “naga” in Thai and Sanskrit?

The kanji 長い (“nagai”) means “long” in Japanese. And “naga” in Sanskrit and Thai means “snake” or “serpent”. It seems to me that there could be a relation between them given that snakes are usually ...
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2answers
308 views

What is the etymology of the kanji 食?

In the Wiktionary page for this kanji they said that it's a pictogram for someone's mouth over a bowl of rice on a stand .. the question is: are they meaning this was the actual way for eating in this ...
2
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1answer
143 views

What is the etymology of kanji 問?

This kanji "ask" when I researched on it I found that the 門 part is a phonetic and this common with kanjis contain 門 .. but i found this site which says that this part 門 in kanji 問 not a phonetic but ...
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2answers
205 views

What is the etymology of this kanji 厚?

In this wiktionary page https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/厚 the etymology for the kanji 厚 is not complete: they wrote that it's an ideogrammic compound but they didn't write the component functions. I ...
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1answer
101 views

Etymology of bateren (伴天連 / 破天連)

The archaic Japanese word bateren 伴天連 / 破天連 (referring to a missionary [Jesuit] priest) is derived from the Portuguese padre. The Portuguese word notably does not contain or end in a nasal consonant, ...
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1answer
112 views

What is the etymology of kanji 関?

I didn't find an explanation or clear etymology for the kanji 関.
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2k views

Why is the meaning of kanji 閑 “leisure”?

The kanji 閑 contains 門 + 木. Why does gate + tree mean 'leisure'?
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2answers
98 views

Etymology of ~かもしれません

So, today one of the topics boarded in the lessons I'm taking was the form ~かもしりません Now, I'm thinking the しれません part comes from the potential form of 知る. That way, in the sentence, it would mean ...
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2answers
128 views

Is there any difference between 速さand 速度?

From what I understood, both 速さ{はやさ} and 速度{そくど} means "speed". Some say that they are synonyms (just like speed and velocity in English), but I guess there is a nuance between them, isn't it ? 速さ{...
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2answers
300 views

Why are phone calls cylindrical?

何本か重要な電話をかけ、... He made several important phone calls and ... Originally part of this question but separated due to popular? demand. Why is the counter 本 used in reference to phone calls?
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1answer
144 views

What are the origins of the words ぐう、ちょき、ぱあ in the context of じゃんけん?

Self explanatory. I've read that they stand for rock, paper and scissors, but I can't find any ultimate origin of why these terms are what they are. Thanks!
4
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1answer
160 views

Why is the State of the Union Address Called 一般教書演説?

The President of the United States gives a speech referred to in English as the "State of the Union". Why is this speech called 一般教書演説{いっぱんきょうしょえんぜつ} in Japanese?
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3answers
185 views

鶴の一声 — Origin and context?

So, I understand what the idiom actually means, roughly -- "the final word," "the word from on high." But where does it come from? Is there a story or a history that gives it context?
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Why is ostracism called 村八分【むらはちぶ】?

While doing some reading of old questions, I stumbled upon the term 村八分【むらはちぶ】, which is apparently means ostracism. I'm curious what the 8 parts (八分) are and how this relates to ostracism.
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428 views

What is the etymology of 料理?

料 can mean 'ingredient', which is clearly relevant to cooking. But 理 seems abstract -- 'the logic/theory of ingredients', almost like the name of a science (ingredientology'?).