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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
1 vote
1 answer
87 views

"て" in どういたしまして

I have read on other threads here (as well as on other pages online) that the て in expressions such as どういたしまして, 初めまして or あけましておめでとうございます was not the て-form but rather "a final particle used for ...
  • 77
-1 votes
1 answer
139 views

Differences of words like 先輩 between Japanese, Chinese, and Korean?

I understand the history of Japan's origin coming from China, which is why Japanese involves Chinese characters. However, I recently realized that there are some words in Japanese that are actually ...
  • 17
4 votes
1 answer
239 views

結構 etymology - from structure to quite

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" ...
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why does 安否 ("peaceful" + "negate") combine to mean "safety"?

Breaking the Kanji from down 安否 into their constituent meanings: 安: content, peaceful, quiet 否: negate Question: Why would combining (e.g.) "peaceful" with "negate" result in a ...
  • 1,317
3 votes
1 answer
116 views

Origin of 「セキ」 when used in game of go 碁

I have seen some sites attributing「セキ」to 関 as in: https://jisho.org/search/%E9%96%A2 https://yuki19925704.com/igo-seki/ (scroll to section that talks about 囲碁の「セキ」の語源) However, the classic term in ...
  • 33
1 vote
2 answers
135 views

What is the "では" in "それでは"?

My teacher told me the "で" in "それでは" was not the particle "で", would that mean it is the same "では" as in "ではない" (aka the て-form of です)? If, so what is ...
  • 77
0 votes
0 answers
45 views

What's the reason behind hiragana る in borrowed words like サボる,キレる? [duplicate]

Is there a rule on how words like サボる and キレる were written? Why not write it in full katakana? I am really interested on the reason why the る is in ひらがな and not in カタカナ。 I tried typing サボル in my ...
2 votes
1 answer
76 views

where does ~ない come from

what's the reason all negative verbs in Japanese ends with ない? 食べない 行かない 来ない しない is It related to あるverb? I am interested in knowing the origin
4 votes
1 answer
139 views

What is the etymology of 催{もよお}す?

What is the etymology of 催{もよお}す. Neither Wiktionary nor Daijisen give any information on the topic. Is there any connection to 押{お}す?
  • 259
1 vote
1 answer
140 views

吉川線 (yoshikawa-sen) is translated as meaning "neck markings indicative of strangulation". What's the origin for this term (yoshikawa in particular)

To my knowledge, 吉川 (yoshikawa) serves only as a name. And yet, for some reason, 吉川線 ("yoshikawa lines" as it were) has the meaning of marks on the neck usually indicative of strangulation ...
  • 360
1 vote
1 answer
94 views

Connection between phenomime じ and adverb じっ‐と?

じ(ーーーー...) seems to be a phenomime, a word which evokes the idea of the state 'staring'. じっ‐と is an adverb meaning something along the lines of being still, quiet, focused at somebody or something, ...
0 votes
1 answer
132 views

Is there considered to be socio-cultural gender in japanese language and do job title variations exist?

Feminist linguistics partly revolve around a concept of with job titles associated biological gender. In English and German one would associate the neutral word "doctor" with a man: it is ...
1 vote
1 answer
99 views

Why doesn't the て form of a verb connect to たい? [duplicate]

According to wikipedia, the て form is the result of sound changes that occurred when the 連用形 proceeded the particle て. Historical Contemporary 買いて 買って 打ちて 打って 知りて 知って 遊びて 遊んで 住みて 住んで 死にて 死んで ...
5 votes
1 answer
630 views

Etymology of くだらない

In the first episode of Death Note, the main character utters: まったくくだらねえ which means Completely worthless I'm assuming "くだらねえ" is the masculine-slang-negative of 下る, which means "to ...
  • 1,317
4 votes
1 answer
103 views

What's going on in the word 同い年?

The word 同い年 is presumably related to the adjective 同じ. But what happened to the consonant in the root? I thought this might be an example of イ音便, but typically this happens to -k, -g only. Is this ...
  • 5,342
1 vote
2 answers
248 views

Does the concept of word families exist in Japanese?

In English, we would probably say that fortune, fortunate and unfortunate belong to the word family fortune. A Japanese analogy would most likely place 返{かえ}る and 返{かえ}す in the same language family. ...
  • 259
1 vote
1 answer
115 views

What's the reading of kanji "入" in "入る", "hai" or "hairu"?

If I look up the word "入る" in a dictionary, it would tell me its reading is はい・る, but does that mean the kanji "入" is read as はい? If I look up the kanji in 漢字源, It's obviously ...
2 votes
1 answer
113 views

What's the origin of "さ", the nonsubjective (dunno how to call it nominalizer)

So, I know that the subjective nominalizer み comes from the imperfective/irrealis form of む, apparently the subjective particle that makes things into subjective verbs?? I just heard this on a website....
0 votes
1 answer
81 views

Dictionary or website with comprehensive word origin information

When I use an automatic Japanese text analyzer, it provides me with a list of words and also short information about what kind of word it is. Japanese (和), Chinese (漢), Foreign (外) or mixed (混). Is ...
  • 259
1 vote
0 answers
64 views

Is there any practical use of the word 正{せい} meaning 10^40 (ten thousand undecillion) ? Where did it come from? [duplicate]

I came across this definition of 正{せい} and I can't fathom what purpose such a large number (10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) could serve, it looks strange to me that there is ...
  • 4,984
13 votes
3 answers
7k views

Why does Japan still use ペキン for Beijing?

Why not ベジン or even 北京{きたきょう}?
  • 357
1 vote
1 answer
158 views

Origin of 玉(たま) as a circular object

In Chinese, 玉 means jade or something beautiful/valuable. But in Japanese, it can mean a variety of other things such as a circular object, female entertainer, testicles etc. I'm curious as to when 玉{...
  • 8,333
1 vote
1 answer
183 views

Why 厚かましい is not 厚がましい

I usually encounter adjectives of this form adj+がましい which means similar to adj+らしい based on my understanding. I recently discovered this word 厚かましい. I find it peculiar that it ends with かましい not がましい....
  • 1,906
4 votes
2 answers
867 views

Portuguese origin of particle -ね

The particle -ね matches somehow the Portuguese 'né' in form and use (as a request for agreement). Since there is proven historical contact between Portugal and Japan and proven influx of Portuguese ...
1 vote
1 answer
188 views

Anyone has any idea why 狼狽 means "confusion/panic/consternation" when both kanjis are ways of saying "wolf"?

Basically, I'm asking if anyone knows of a possible etymological reason. Maybe it has to do with the ideogram itself, maybe it's a saying, but I'm not finding satisfying answers online. Apparently, in ...
3 votes
1 answer
148 views

What is the etymology of [経緯]{いきさつ}?

The etymology of the word [経緯]{いきさつ}, in the sense of "the details of how something came to be" seems completely opaque. Even on the Japanese internet, the only reference I can find is this ...
  • 5,342
2 votes
3 answers
212 views

Is "先" an auto-antonym?

An auto-antonym is a word with multiple meanings (senses) of which one is the reverse of another. So apparently the kanji meaning of this word is "previous" or "past". This seems ...
  • 123
2 votes
2 answers
183 views

Do 待つ and 松 (matsu) have a shared etymology?

I saw a tweet that mused on the fact that ‘to pine for someone’ and ‘pine tree’ have the same pronunciation in Japanese, as in English. Is there any shared etymology here? The radicals look pretty ...
1 vote
1 answer
215 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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
116 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 ...
  • 115
2 votes
0 answers
71 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,...
1 vote
0 answers
145 views

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 ...
  • 11
1 vote
1 answer
113 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 ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
113 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 ...
  • 847
0 votes
2 answers
461 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 ...
3 votes
2 answers
145 views

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 ...
  • 1,067
3 votes
1 answer
186 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 ...
  • 127
5 votes
2 answers
455 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 ...
  • 127
4 votes
2 answers
287 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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
362 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 ...
  • 5,342
0 votes
0 answers
67 views

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 ...
  • 406
4 votes
2 answers
489 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?
  • 67
-2 votes
2 answers
161 views

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. ...
  • 189
0 votes
0 answers
152 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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
165 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
106 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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
119 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 ...
  • 3
0 votes
0 answers
133 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 ...
  • 101
0 votes
1 answer
307 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​...
  • 25
0 votes
1 answer
63 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.
  • 283

1
2 3 4 5
16