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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98 views

What's the Etymology for using うち to mean "I"?

As some know, うち is another way to say "I" in Japanese, my tutor (and others) saying it's mostly used by younger women. My question is...how did this come to be? Because, I can't help but ...
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98 views

How does じろじろ suggest staring?

What is the origin of the mimetic term じろじろ? As in じろじろ見ないでください。 How does jirojiro mimic or suggest someone staring? This answer mentions how anime characters will literally say this, but does not ...
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60 views

Are 操る, 釣る, 連れる, 移る and 吊る(つる) etymologically related?

These words, in addition to sharing a common sound (つる) are somewhat related in sense, perhaps through a derivation like to hang > to lure (for fishes) > to follow > to move >to manipulate,...
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Detarame / 出鱈目 literal translation?

I recently encountered the Japanese phrase 出鱈目/デタラメ/detarame to mean... well, what we in English generally refer to as bull****. Which, the implications in the word from what it means is pretty ...
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91 views

What is うれション a portmanteau of?

I recently came across the phrase うれション, referring to when a dog accidentally urinates out of excitement. Fairly obviously the first part is derived from 嬉しい, but what else comes together to form ...
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84 views

Meaning, origin and "type" of 多き

I have come across 多き being used in combinations such as 恵み多き宝 or 恵み多き地. I believe the correct reading is おおき. However, I was not able to find an explanation to the differences, e.g. to 多{おお}い. Does ...
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90 views

Does the "w" to mean laugh in Japanese have any relation with how the "w" could look like a laughing part of an emoji like "^w^"?

I know that in Japanese, text messaging the letter “w” is short for warau (笑う), which means “to laugh". I'm curious if it has any relation to how the "w" could look like a laughing ...
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Etymology of 打ち合わせる

How come 打ち合わせる means “to arrange a meeting” or “to agree on something”. I clearly see the 合わせる part signaling an agreement. Yet however I can’t see where the 打つ part became something other than “to ...
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175 views

なさい and ください using い-stem instead of う-stem

I'm curious as to why these two verbs use their い-stem, instead of う like ます does after the い-stem and くれる/あげる/おく do after the て form. (I know the two are aru special class verbs.) Does this have to ...
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370 views

Why is する's potential form できる?

Godan verbs have the potential form える, while ichidan verbs and 来る use られる for both the passive and the potential. する also has the passive される, why isn't that or something like すれる used as its ...
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164 views

Difference between「なんか」and「なんだか」?

What are some examples of their usage? Is なん the short form of 何【なに】 in both words? Also, not sure if this is correct, but the だ in the middle of なんだか should be the copula. Why is the copula being ...
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345 views

The は in the phrase そこはかとなく

I just came across the phrase そこはかとなく, which weblio translates as: 特にどこがどうと言うわけではないが、雰囲気として感じられる様子などを表す表現。 Expresses the idea of feeling something as a mood, and not for any particular reason. This ...
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Is there any continuity behind these verb endings?

In Japanese the seems to be a lot of reoccurring verb endings. Some basic ones are fairly easy to understand, like 動く vs 動かす, here it looks like あ plus す is used to indicate acting upon something ...
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459 views

Why are segments of a TV show, etc., called コーナー?

I've heard the word used in phrases like 質問コーナー, but I haven't heard this usage of "corner" in English. Why is it used this way?
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歓迎しましょう vs 歓迎します vs ようこそ

What is the difference between: 歓迎しましょう (Kangei shimashou) 歓迎します (Kangei shimasu) ようこそ (Yōkoso) They all mean "welcome" but in which occasions should we use which more appropriately. ...
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112 views

Understanding japanese verb suffixes

I recently learned the meaning of the verb suffixes す, む and ぶ (respectively to do, to seem like or to indicate volition, to act like). I would have two questions : Does every verb ending with す can ...
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1answer
153 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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1answer
100 views

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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109 views

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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130 views

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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188 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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125 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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57 views

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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153 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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1answer
168 views

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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191 views

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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164 views

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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108 views

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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88 views

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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279 views

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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198 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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1k views

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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475 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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294 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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524 views

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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375 views

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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113 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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73 views

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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1answer
115 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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283 views

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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118 views

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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1answer
170 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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569 views

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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132 views

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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157 views

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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181 views

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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1answer
922 views

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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2answers
275 views

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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