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
41 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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77 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
85 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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65 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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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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103 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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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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103 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
116 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
172 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
82 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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100 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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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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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
117 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
56 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
144 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 ...
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1answer
134 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
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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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91 views

Is ずから a productive structure?

Recently, I was reminded of 手ずから again and connected it to 自ら{みずか} and おのずから this time. I was wondering if the structure ずから is used anywhere else? Some research seems to indicate that might be ...
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251 views

What does the 匂 in 匂い mean?

匂い (におい) refers to a fragrance, or something that is nice-smelling. As far as I know, this kanji is only used for this word in Japanese. I notice that the character 匂 is uncommon. The usage of 匂 is ...
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1answer
78 views

How was こき使う formed?

I was reading a manga called Rengoku ni Warau and Kaishin said: ったく、人をこき使いやがって あのジジィほっつき歩いてやがる Jisho says that こき使い means pushing someone around or to work someone hard but it doesn't seem to fit ...
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what does いたまえ mean and how was it conjugated? [duplicate]

I was wondering what does いたまえ mean I really don't know the main word when I searched and I don't know how it was conjugated this sentence was from oregairu season 1 ep 4 near the start 好きな者達と組んでもらうから ...
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1answer
589 views

What is オーション and why is it called that?

A recipe for home-made ramen calls for オーション. I am having a hard time figuring out what that is exactly, having checked dictionaries and Google Translate to no avail. I did find several online ...
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274 views

Why does the kanji for coffee have a king 王 radical?

The Chinese character for coffee is 咖啡 while the Japanese kanji is 珈琲. The mouth 口 radical seems more appropriate than the king 王 / jade 玉 radical. Most kanji come from Chinese characters and are ...
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99 views

Why is there a し in 嫉妬し蹴落とそうとする?

Hi I found a sentence earlier with 嫉妬し蹴落とそうとする and I do not know why し is put there. Anyway, I thought it was the reasoning marker but it does not sound like it from the audio and I don't know what ...
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1answer
104 views

What is the difference between 言いだし and 言いだす?

I found a sentence earlier containing the word 言いだしづら but I parsed it to 2 words and I found I did not know 言いだし so I looked it up and found 言いだす (which I know the meaning of), but I also found ...
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1answer
57 views

What's the meaning of 通じづらい, and how was it conjugated?

I was wondering what the meaning of 通じづらい is, and how it was conjugated. I know づらい means "difficult" or "hard to" but I can't find the exact meaning of 通じ. Here is the sentence. The context is that ...
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1answer
86 views

Do ふえる and へる have a common etymology?

I was reviewing my Anki cards and it said that 減少 and 増加 are antonyms. Now, for extra practice, I try to give at least one kunyomi reading to each kanji. Then it occured to me that ふえる and へる sounded ...
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3answers
4k views

Does 左様なら (sayōnara) have Chinese roots?

A related question: What does さようなら (左様なら) have to do with "left"? The English-language A.Word.A.Day list this week is doing a "Words borrowed from Japanese" theme; today's word was ...
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1k views

Tom Nook “Tanukichi”

So a random stroll through Wikipedia reveals that Tanuki or "raccoon dogs" have a fascinating place in Japanese folklore. It seems Nintendo often includes tanuki or tanuki aspects in its games. In ...
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1answer
123 views

Goo Dictionary: What does it mean? [closed]

I’m sure you guys are well aware of the Japanese dictionary Goo. https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/ Why is it called “Goo”? Even in romaji, Goo sounds unusual. I doubt it refers to the English meaning of ...
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213 views

幼稚園 coincidental similarity with english/german?

Isn't it a bit strange that it has 園 at the end? Was this word actually made in Japan after they knew about kindergarten ?
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Is the word ムキムキ a deliberate visual pun?

I recently learned the word ムキムキ and what instantly struck me was how it appears to be some kind of a visual pun. ム representing a flexed arm 💪 キ representing a classic barbell Together they ...
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1answer
84 views

承る and 賜る: are they etymologically related? [duplicate]

I was studying kanji when I noticed that 承{うけたまわ}る and 賜{たまわ}る share 「たまわる」and they do seem to have related meanings. In fact, it appears to me that 承る is a compound verb that combines 受ける and 賜る but ...
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178 views

What does Kenneth Henshall mean by “X is used phonetically to express Y”?

Henshall seems to have a quite specific idea about how many phonetic elements end up in characters, which diverges from explanations I find online, but I'm not sure I'm reading him correctly. ...
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2answers
251 views

Is あらまあ linked to Malay “alamak”, and which came first?

A popular theory claims that that the Japanese expression あらまあ is directly related to the Malay alamak (pronounced more or less identically, since the "k" is just a glottal stop), with speculation ...
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153 views

Why is the Japanese term for grammatical case 「格」? How did this translation come to be?

From Google's definition of 格: きまり。法則。標準。  「格式・格言・合格・別格・破格・規格・本格・古格・適格・律令格式(りつりょうきゃくしき)」 《名・造》地位。身分。程度。  「格が違う」 方形に組みあわせた材。  「骨格・格子(こうし)・格天井(ごうてんじょう)」 くる。いたる。とおる。きわめる。  「格物致知」 ...
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268 views

Insight into one of Japan's regions which is called 中国

I was doing some research into the difference between Japanese states, regions, prefectures, etc. today when I noticed that one of the regions is called ちゅうごく (中国). Is there a reason that one of the ...
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1answer
125 views

Insight into 林檎 and 苹果

Insight into 林檎 and 苹果 Are both forms used by Japanese people? If so, which form is more common? Is there some nuanced difference between them? I know 苹果 more closely reflects the Chinese 苹果. ...
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2answers
219 views

Meaning and usage of よほどのこと

In this answer it is incidentally mentioned that よほどのこと means "something very unusual/extraordinary". I'm struggling to find this definition in a dictionary, no matter whether I look up the whole ...
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4answers
2k views

Etymology of レントゲン?

What is the etymology of レントゲン (X-Ray) < From Genki II Lesson 12>? Is it a borrowed word <外来語> from another language? Translate suggests using X線 instead of レントゲン, but I'm not sure what the ...
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2answers
4k views

Is ま (ma) related to ほ (ho) or は (ha) related to よ (yo)? What does adding a bar to the left mean?

I understand these character similarities might be arbitrary, like M and W being flipped. But it's tripping me up enough times that I thought if I knew a reason, perhaps it would help me memorize ...
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1answer
245 views

What is the etymological origin of the word キノピオ (Toad in Super Mario Bros)?

I just found out the Toad character from the Super Mario Bros is known as キノピオ in Japan. Where does that name come from? I know 茸 (きのこ) means mushroom, but what does the suffix -ピオ stand for? Thanks ...
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1answer
98 views

The 平仮名 and 片仮名 kanji

I'm trying to increase my kanji and pretty much look up the kanji for everything these days. I discovered that the kanji for ひらがな and カタカナare 平仮名 and 片仮名 respectively. Any explanation for the choice ...
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1answer
734 views

Is there anything special about single vowel words?

I'm not sure if this is a useful question or not. But I was surprised to notice まさか (masaka) was using a single vowel (a) for the whole word. The surprise came from the connection to "bakana" (バカな) ...
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1answer
63 views

Use of かと思ったら / かと思うと (in the context of as soon as, just when)

かと思ったら / かと思うと mean "just when; no sooner than" but what is their use (oral/written, formal/normal) ? Do native use that construction naturally or is it replaced by another one ? And I am also ...
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2answers
153 views

Why does 滑り出し mean 'beginning'?

In Samurai Gourmet, Kasumi says: 滑り出しは順調だ! I can see why 滑り出し could mean beginning (imagining myself at the top of a large waterslide) but I'm curious to know if there is any historical context ...
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3answers
234 views

Question regarding the 「⻏」radical

I’ve put ⻏ in the search function but got no result. There are two ⻏radicals. Their origins are different but they are visually identical. On Jisho: But in a different dictionary (an app I got for my ...

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