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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Meanings and etymology of the word キザ

There's a character in this game whose bio describes him as a "キザでお調子者な優男", which I currently understand to mean "pretentious, kind man who tends to get carried away easily." ...
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What is with words like 天気 and ご機嫌 having meanings translated with a "good"?

I think the reason why they can mean "good weather" and "good mood" is because they are such familiar expressions that people know what they refer to without their other part. The ...
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Origin of よろしく's other meanings

The other meanings I'm referring to are from noun + よろしく (as if) and よろしく ... べし (by all means). I wonder why it also lacks some meanings from よく, as よろしい is the respectful form of よい, I think. I ...
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日(ひ) は大昔からdayの意味持っていたのか

日本は漢人に接触し漢字と漢語を輸入した前に大和言葉はもう存在していたから、きっとその時にもうdayを指す語はもうあった。現代の視点から見ると、和語のdayの意味の言葉は「日(ひ)」なんですけど(例えば その日、あの日、出会った日)、これも漢語の影響なんですか? 詳細に言うと、昔の大和言葉の一日を指す語は「日(か)」だったと思うのは正しいですか。一ヶ月の中の日付も(二日ふつか、三日みっか等)、暦(...
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What is the history of the word "Sentika"?

A relatively recent independent Tokusatsu series, Sentika F8ABA6 Jisariz, has caught my attention, specifically due to the series' title in its original Japanese, "華衛士F8ABA6ジサリス". A ...
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1 answer
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Is the english xoxo related to japanese メロメロ

So I stumbled over the Japanese word メロメロ (mero mero) wich is often translated as being in love. I was wondering if it is related to the english xoxo (hugs and kisses) or is this just a coincidence?
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If 校 is the kanji for school, why do I need 学 to actually say school?

Perhaps a dumb question, but something that I was wondering and couldn't find a clear answer via search. Since 校 is the kanji for school, why do we also need the kanji for learning 学 to say "school" (...
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Why is the kunyomi reading commonly used for 4 and 7, but not other numbers?

It's interesting that the numbers 4 and 7 are often read using with kunyomi (よん, なな), even in many cases where the other numbers (1,2,3,5,6,8,9,10) would be read with onyomi. For example, 34 is read ...
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How did 面白い end up meaning "Interesting"?

面 by itself means "face", while 白 by itself means "white". How did these two words combine together to mean "interesting"?
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Etymology of 鞄 (かばん)

I recently learned of the Korean word 가방 (gaban), which is supposedly derived from 鞄 (かばん), but it seems there isn't much of a solid trail after that. From what I can tell, it might be related to the ...
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The origin of 首にする

I've come across an interesting idiom in the following sentence: もしも私が社長だったら、あの人を首にすると思います。 If I were the company president, I would fire that person. What is the origin of the idiom 首にする?
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Why is svaha in Japanese sowaka?

I know this is a more Chinese centered question, but, if svaha sounds more like suwaha, why is it transliterated sowaka? Or more straight to the point, why is it that the Chinese word sowaka might ...
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Is there a particular meaning or origin to the last name 宇多田?

Japanese last names often refer to some type of location or geographical feature, but in this case I am not certain if the name has an abstract, metaphorical, or literal meaning. "Many rice ...
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What is the etymological connection between sake (alcohol) and sha-ke (salmon)?

I read once somewhere that the word 'sake' (酒, Japanese rice wine) comes from sha-ke (鮭, salmon). Can someone explain what this connection is? Any thoughts on why most Japanese people * don't know ...
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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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すっからかん, あっけらかん, and the supposed (adverb) suffix かん

すっからかん is usually theorized to come from すっかりから, or a corruption/change in pronunciation from a weird amalgamation of a Chinese phrase. However, あっけらかん is an adverb, and while あっけら has similar origins ...
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Where does the な in 大人 (otona) come from?

As far as I understand, the word 大人 (otona) uses the kanji 大 to represent お and the kanji 人 to represent と. According to this site the readings for 人 do not include な. Where does the な come from then?
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Does みな have an origin, or at least one that can be theorized about?

I personally think this question is self explanatory, so I'm going to add context. I searched up the etymology for 皆, not the kanji but its reading, and didn't find anything for it. It may be み with a ...
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Why nominalize words instead of using them directly as verbs, adverbs or adjectives? [duplicate]

My question is focused particularly on verbs ending in て form nominalised with の and adverbs ending in く also nominalised with の: かねての instead of かねる 近くの instead of 近くある/近い My understanding of nouns ...
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Etymology of でしょう?

Does anyone know what でしょう originally comes from? And are those forms ever used nowadays?
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Etymology of 目茶目茶

Does anyone know how the kanji for "eye" and "tea" came to be joined to mean "disorderly"? (I am a beginning student and cannot read advanced monolingual dictionaries.) ...
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What is the implied subject in 夏から秋にかける?

Consider 夏から秋にかけて台風がよく来ます。 Typhoons frequently come from summer to autumn. I know that 夏から秋にかけて effectively means "from summer to autumn". But more literally I assume it means "from ...
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The actual meaning of 別に (べつに)

Though this question has been asked a lot, I do not find any explanation with the literal meaning and the logic behind the expression (with 別 referring to "distinction"). As a result, it's ...
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Why does 中止 also mean to cancel

中止 literally means to stop halfway (中で止まる). 中止 in Chinese also only means to terminate something already started. How did 中止 get the meaning of cancelling something not started at all in Japanese?
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What does ごめん come from?

I'm trying to understand what ごめん comes from. From the following questions: Does ごめん really mean sorry? Use of なさい in ごめんなさい What's the difference between なさい and てください / でください? I've compiled a ...
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What is the W for Wワーク

Just as the title, what is the W in Wワーク? There is also those U-turn I-turn.....etc Could you elaborate why is it just a single leter and what is the meaning of it?
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How is Tsuyuri Kumin's name (五月七日くみん) read with 3 characters when it's made up of 4 kanji?

From the Chuunibyou anime, Kumin's last name is Tsuyuri (3 characters), but written as 五月七日 (4 kanji characters). How can this be? At first, I thought it might just be a chuuni thing, where you write ...
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輪廻's meanings (cycle) where does it come from?

Last weekish or so I made a question about てを verb, and a person told me it was a duplicate question, and that 輪廻 in the case my question was being asked was transitive. So I searched on wiktionary ...
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Does the いは in 或いは come from any term, and if so, how is it/was it used?

I was curious about いは in 或いは because ある is in its plain form however I can't find anything on it. I don't have any physical dictionary, either nor knowledge of if this is archaic Japanese
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Where does the abbreviation こ, apparently meaning to be in a state, come from?

I asked this question because I saw a pun in the song デンパラダイム where the producer tuned a lyric stating マッハ木っ端ミジンコ土っ管! I initially translated it as 'in the earthen pipes the negligibly tiny water fleas ...
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Ghost word and Ghost Kanji in Japanese

In Japanese, are there any words/kanji that are written in dictionarys but actually don't exist at all? Like the "Ghost word" in English.
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The construction and etymology of -たら

Ever since I learned that "if" and "when" can be used as translations for the -たら conditional form depending on the context, I have been looking for an explanation of its ...
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Does anyone know the deal with the compound 進捗?

I always found 進捗 to be an odd Sino-Japanese compound for two reasons: it involves the character 捗 which barely occurs in Chinese, except for one rare compound 捗攄 (bu4 shu1) "to vanish" in ...
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Should "obake" be understood to refer to shapeshifters, or rather to things which have been transformed?

In the tvtropes article on Youkai, the following remark is made on the meaning of "obake": Obake is another Japanese word that can indicate some type of monster. Derived from the word for &...
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How did 今ひとつ get its negative meaning?

The word 今ひとつ has the surface meaning "yet another, one more", but it seems to be more popularly used to mean "not entirely satisfactory", for example: その薬の効果は今ひとつだった。 The ...
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Is 苦手 etymologically related to 苦い?

Is 苦手 etymologically related to 苦い? Does the former derive from the latter? Does the fact that they have the same root kanji make this obvious, or is there something about 手 that also gives me ...
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how did 二段 verbs shift into 一段?

How was the process? i know that in 鎌倉時代, the 終止形 and 連体形 started to be used interchangeably + only the 連体形 form survived and replaced the 終止形. But here is where i get lost, lets say the classical 下二段 ...
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Are "papa" and "mama" also used in Japanese as father and mother?

I often hear "papa" and "mama" in animes, in situations where they seem to mean father and mother. Is that so? Are these words borrowed from the Spanish words "papá" and &...
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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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-た and -たり meaning and etymology

I have done some research on where the so-called past tense, the -た form, came from (after hearing that there is no such thing as conjugation in Japanese). Through my research I read that it came from ...
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What is the etymology of Saikoro (dice) and why is it written in katakana?

Recently I learned that the Japanese for dice is サイコロ. The kanji is 塞子 which is Saizi in pinyin. So the サイ part comes from 塞 but why katakana ? 子 is sometimes translated as こ so the コ must come from ...
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How Is つ/ツ origin 川?

Wikipedia's Tsu (kana) page says つ/ツ hiragana origin 川 katakana origin 川 How Is つ/ツ origin 川?
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Implication of Xがよい

I often see phrases of the form Xがよい (where X is a noun) e.g. 頭がよい, 仲がよい etc. In these examples the characteristic being described is desirable (clever, good relationship etc) so よい seems sensible. I ...
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Why isn't there an actual Japanese word for "balcony"?

The Japanese word for "balcony" is a loanword of veranda - ベランダ (Beranda). Veranda is a Anglo-Indian word from Hindi varanda which came from Portuguese varanda and is extensively used in ...
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Why does 色々 mean "various"?

I have been wondering why 色々 meant "various". I reckon that the archaic "various colours" meaning (as listed on Jisho) generalized to "various", but I wonder why (or how, ...
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Why is 閉ざす the "-す form" of 閉じる when the classical form was kami nidan 閉づ?

This has really confused me for a long time. Considering the fact that the Classical Japanese form of the verb 閉じる is 閉づ, the expected reflex of 閉ざす should be *閉だす; 閉じる is actually etymologically 閉ぢる ...
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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 ...
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How is the wind related to illness?

I've seen the kanji 風 appear in several different illnesses: [風邪]{«かぜ»} (a cold), [中風]{ちゅう・ふう} (paralysis), and [痛風]{つう・ふう} (gout). Conceivably there may be others, but I haven't seen them. What ...
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The true meaning of お陰様で

In the past (or even today) were there certain people who, when saying お陰様で, actually believed and meant that their state of well-being was in fact due to people (or beings, whether they be ...
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"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 ...

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