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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3
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1answer
418 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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218 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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468 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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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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2answers
83 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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65 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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111 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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107 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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91 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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541 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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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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172 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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843 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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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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366 views

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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520 views

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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198 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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183 views

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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84 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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742 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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62 views

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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807 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
145 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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451 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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776 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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143 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
86 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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1answer
90 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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1answer
93 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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1answer
73 views

Grammar behind the flower name ワスレナグサ

If I researched correctly (and with that I mean reading a bit of Wikipedia), the plant name ワスレナグサ, or 忘れな草 when written with Kanji, is a calque of German "Vergissmeinnicht" ("forget-me-...
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2answers
219 views

When did 「ヤッホー」 become a popular greeting?

The etymology of the very casual greeting 「ヤッホー」 appears disputed and undecided. Various theories and hypotheses have been suggested. This site lists German, Hebrew, and 山伏 as possible sources. A lot ...
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Why are there so many カ行、サ行、ラ行五段活用 verbs?

If you go into a dictionary like Weblio, and you look through their list of verbs, you'll see that each of the consonant 行s of 五段 are in separate categories. However, there are a ton of カ行、サ行、ラ行 verbs,...
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1answer
187 views

I need help with the translations of the word Seido 精度

I am planning to start a small business in the art industry in the UK. I was brainstorming ideas for business names some time ago and I started typing in translations of English words I found relevant ...
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2answers
249 views

Looking for the History of the Kanji 湯

I was wondering if anyone knows the etymology of this kanji 湯. I'm specifically looking for the Japanese variation of Bath or "yu". My wife's last name in kanji is 湯上 (Yugami).
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113 views

先生 character etymology

先 looks like a teacher holding a pen, and 生 looks like a person sitting cross-legged with a pen, learning. maybe the symbols together mean someone who instructs someone else. Was this originally a ...
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1answer
118 views

Normal is the most difficult" — origin in Japanese?

I'm looking for the Japanese origin of the saying Normal is the most difficult. I believe the longhand version would be Normality in life is the most difficult state/condition to attain/sustain. ...
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2answers
182 views

What semantic notions underlie 和 and Japan?

I was reading about Wasei-kango, and am bemused why Japanese-made Chinese words is translated as 和製漢語. Why not 日本製漢語? How did 和 semantically shift to mean Japan then? Isn't this semantic shift ...
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1answer
89 views

Apparent honorific use of 参る

I'm puzzled by the appearance of 参る in this dictionary entry. The example sentence is archaic:「こなたにてみぐしなど参る程に」 In the modern language, this becomes: こちらでお髪などおととのえになるころに。 Notice that the modern version ...
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1answer
109 views

九百, くひゃく (arch) (derog) fool; idiot

I came across this entry in wwwjdic: 九百, くひゃく (arch) (derog) fool; idiot Is there a fun story explaining how "900" = "fool"?
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1answer
120 views

サッと: Mix of ひらがな and カタカナ in the same word?

So, I've come across this sentence そのとき、陽が当たった石版に何かの影がサッと横切った。 which I'm fairly sure it means something like At that time, something's shadow quickly crossed the sunlit lithograph. Now, what ...
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56 views

How did 賃 get its 慣用音 reading?

賃 has the 慣用音 reading ちん, as in 家賃{やちん}. I understand that a lot of 慣用音 readings arise from interpreting the phonetic wrongly (for example 消耗{しょうこう} vs 消耗{しょうもう}), but in this case how did 賃 receive ...
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1answer
130 views

Why do many adverbs end with ず?

A quick search on jisho.org reveals that many of the first page results of words that end with a ず are adverbs. So this type of adverb is common. In fact, it's true (at least for these first page ...
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1answer
58 views

Which came first: いや (the interjection), or 嫌がる and similar words?

I assume that the interjection いや is cognate with a bunch of other words beginning with iya- such as 嫌がる、卑しい, perhaps via the semantics of 'disagreeable'. But did the interjection come first and get ...
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1answer
226 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 ...
2
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1answer
144 views

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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1answer
107 views

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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