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
8
votes
2answers
349 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。 ...
33
votes
3answers
2k views

Kanji for native Japanese concepts: Kun'yomi spanning multiple morphemes

There are a few words, which are written with Kanji imported from China, but where the intended native Japanese meaning would prefer a different choice of Kanji. My favourite examples are 雷 vs. 神鳴り (...
6
votes
2answers
209 views

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 ...
0
votes
2answers
185 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
352 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
505 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
139 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
182 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
81 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
855 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?
13
votes
1answer
725 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, ...
1
vote
3answers
126 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
804 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
61 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
210 views

Where does ドンピシャ come from?

The fact that ドンピシャ (meaning "right on, fitting to a T") is written in katakana makes me wonder if it comes from a foreign phrase, but I can't figure out which one (out of the European languages I ...
7
votes
1answer
444 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?
10
votes
1answer
769 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
132 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
77 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 -> ...
1
vote
1answer
86 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!
16
votes
4answers
528 views

History of 十干(じっかん)and modern uses

As I was studying vocabulary today, I happened to come across the titular 十干 which are as follows: [甲]{こう} • [乙]{おつ} • [丙]{へい} • [丁]{てい} • [戊]{ぼ} • [己]{き} • [庚]{こう} • [辛]{しん} • [壬]{じん} • [癸]{き} ...
2
votes
1answer
91 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!
2
votes
2answers
240 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).
2
votes
1answer
68 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-...
2
votes
1answer
101 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
votes
2answers
202 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
169 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{...
9
votes
3answers
812 views

Why is the meaning of人一倍 opposite of what it seems to say?

This could be just me, but at first glance the word (phrase?) 人一倍【ひといちばい】 looks like it would mean "one's own share of the work". I assumed 人 to mean one person, and 一倍【いちばい】 means "one ...
24
votes
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 ...
1
vote
0answers
75 views

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,...
6
votes
1answer
300 views

Why is はじめ written with the kanji 初 as opposed to 始 to convey “the beginning”?

I frowned upon my textbook when I saw the word 初【はじ】め (the beginning) for the first time (no pun intended). The reason is that so far, I understood the idea of "start" is conveyed by 始, ...
0
votes
1answer
126 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
107 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
117 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. ...
2
votes
2answers
177 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
83 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
281 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
103 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"?
2
votes
1answer
99 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
15k views

The etymology and meaning of Oss, Osu, Ossu

I am training at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy, and their use of the word "Oss" is ubiquitous. I have asked and also answered the question What is the etymology and meaning of Oss? in the Martial ...
2
votes
0answers
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
121 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Nuance, usage and etymology of お[出]{い}で

I observed in drama and anime (being outside Japan, those are my only ways of keeping in touch with spoken 日本語) that elder people sometimes say お出で to younger people when they want to say something ...
2
votes
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
165 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
votes
1answer
136 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).
3
votes
1answer
98 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
672 views

Why is the た in 手伝う voiced?

English In the compound verb 手伝う, we see the following sound change: て+つたう→てつだう Unexpectedly, the た from つたう turns into だ. 連濁, at least with the 手+伝う analysis, can't account for this, because it's ...
2
votes
1answer
94 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
588 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?

1
2 3 4 5
15