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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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2
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1answer
358 views

Does the Japanese expression ''peko peko'' come from the English word ''peckish''?

I just learned that ''I'm hungry'' is : Onaka suita but can also be : Onaka peko peko I noticed that the ''peko peko'' was written in katakana. Does it come from ''peckish'' ?
16
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3answers
3k views

Is 写真 an onomatopoeia?

Is 写真, the word for photograph, in any way a form of onomatopoeia? That is to say, is it at all based on the sound of taking a photo? I'm aware of the meanings of 写 and 真, but when said aloud I ...
5
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1answer
119 views

What is the origin of っこない?

There's a construction V+っこない which means something like "have no way of doing V". お前には分かりっこないでしょう。 There's no way you would understand. Is it known what this construction originates from? I ...
5
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2answers
298 views

What is the etymology of とある?

ある ‘some’ is an obvious rentaikei of the verb 有り, ‘to exist’, and its emergence as a pronominal is due to the kanbun influence of Chinese 有 ɦuwX ‘same’ (Zisk, M. (2018). Middle Chinese Loan ...
9
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1answer
940 views

Why does 「お帰りなさい」 mean “welcome home”?

As far as I know 「なさい」 is the imperative form of 「なさる」. So why does 「お帰りなさい」 mean "welcome home"? Wouldn't it mean something like "please return"? If it was just 「お帰り」, I could understand it as a mean ...
8
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1answer
173 views

Is there an etymological connection between 奇数 in Japanese and “odd number” in English?

I couldn't find any etymological information about 奇数{きすう} online. I found it interesting that it has the characters for "strange/odd" and "number", and wondered if it was influenced by English, or if ...
0
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1answer
133 views

What is the etymology behind 彼氏(彼) and 彼女 meaning boyfriend/girlfriend?

So according to Can someone break down かのじょ and かれ for me? it seems that 彼 and 彼女 are words that only came to mean "he"/"she" due to the influence of the West. But I'd like to know a bit more about ...
8
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1answer
712 views

How did 象【しょう】 ( ≈かたち、 すがた、ようす) and 象【ぞう】 (どうぶつ) get to be written with the same kanji?

How did each term come to be represented by the same kanji 「象」? I assume there's no connection between both meanings beyond sharing the same kanji because they look so different to me, but I'm not ...
5
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2answers
287 views

Why is the term for can as in ''aluminum can" written in kanji?

I noticed that the term "can" is written with a kanji term but pronounced as in English. Why use a kanji? The word coffee has a kanji, but is commonly written in katakana. It might be ateji, but I ...
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0answers
76 views

How does ジャンケンポン become the meaning for the rock paper and scissors game? [duplicate]

It's the term used for the rock, paper and scissors game. I have also heard the term kai bai bo/bou used. Which term is correct? Kai bai bo/bou sounds Chinese. How does jyankenpon and kai bai bo/bou ...
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0answers
83 views

Why do Latin letters have English pronunciations in Japanese?

The Latin letters A–Z are used in Japan today and they each have a name just like in English. Take the first five Latin letters, A–E. Source: https://jisho.org A 【エイ】【エー】 B 【ベー】【ビー】 C 【シー】...
5
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2answers
367 views

What's the connection between a spoon (匕) and the old age (⺹)? (Kanji: 老)

I was studying some radicals and I found this: ⺹ (old, old-age) and this: 匕. But why this: 老 (old + spoon) means "old man, old age, grow old"?? Do Japaneses think a spoon can make you older in a ...
0
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1answer
91 views

How's ちゃわなきゃ working in this sentence?

I have a question about the usage of ちゃわなきゃ with 寝る in the following sentence, 先週みたいに途中に寝ちゃわなきゃいいけど。 I believe that the ちゃ is for things that must not be done, but I have no clue what わなきゃ is doing ...
1
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1answer
105 views

Why is a fountain pen called 万年筆?

I am curious about the etymological history of 万年筆{まんねんひつ}, whose actual meaning is a fountain pen in Japanese. If we separate the kanjis we have : 万{マン}: ten thousand 年{ネン}: years 筆{ヒツ}:...
2
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1answer
175 views

Why are the kanji for suika and kabocha written with the kanji for west and south?

I was able to translate as west melon and south melon. The melon part makes sense, but why were directions used? I saw the sui (water) kanji for watermelon, but it is no longer used.
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0answers
110 views

What is the etymology of the term “特定厨”? [duplicate]

For those of you who have never heard of the term “特定厨”, please allow me to explain. According to Weblio, there are two definitions: person who identifies someone's private information (esp. ...
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0answers
146 views

爵 how do the 'elements' combine to result in 'baron'

The 4 elements of this japanese kanji are understood, but I cannot see/intuit any connection between them that might result in the concept of 'baron'. Can anyone shed some light on this mystery?
7
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1answer
200 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 -...
2
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2answers
210 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
79 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? (...
3
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1answer
197 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
1k views

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 ...
0
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1answer
136 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
124 views

Origin of words for eating manners

What is the cultural/religious origin of itadakimasu and gochisosama?
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0answers
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”?
2
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1answer
243 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
70 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 「...
1
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1answer
152 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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0answers
54 views

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?
1
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1answer
188 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 ...
6
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1answer
159 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 ...
0
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2answers
243 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
105 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 ...
-3
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2answers
341 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
54 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 ...
4
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3answers
359 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?
2
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0answers
78 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{...
4
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1answer
110 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
748 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?
13
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1answer
789 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?
4
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2answers
299 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?
6
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1answer
124 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)?
2
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1answer
142 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 '...
5
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1answer
153 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 ...
0
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0answers
97 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 ...
1
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1answer
104 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
votes
1answer
175 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、...
4
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0answers
131 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。 ...
1
vote
1answer
213 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
votes
1answer
185 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 ...