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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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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183 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
140 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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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4answers
591 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?
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1answer
258 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
671 views

Why do onyomis have so many extra syllables?

Onyomis are pronunciations that originate from Chinese. In Chinese, the pronunciation of a character contains exactly one consonant. However, a lot of onyomis have 2 consonants. For example [特別]{とくべつ}....
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1answer
295 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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1answer
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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
597 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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8k views

Why is 一日 'tsuitachi'?

Why is it 'tsuitachi' if the pronunciation can only be ichi, hito, or hitotsu?
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1answer
105 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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103 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
216 views

About 「ない」 in 「切ない」

According to this page on the etymology of the word 「切ない」, the 「ない」 in it is not the 「ない」 that means "there is no ...", but rather an ending that turns the noun 「切」 into an adjective. On the other ...
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1answer
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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
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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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About 「同{おな}じ」 and 「同{おな}じく」

As far as I know, 「[同じ]{おなじ}」 is not a 形容詞{けいようし} (-i adjective) so how does it become 「[同じく]{おなじく}」? Or does 「同じく」 not come from 「同じ」? Also, are there any other non i-adjectives that have -ku ...
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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
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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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215 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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Why are there so many different words with the same pronunciation in Japanese?

Why does Japanese have so many words with different meanings which have the same pronunciation? For example, there are at least 80 different words which are pronounced "ko" , at least 45 for "ka", at ...
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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
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What is the literal meaning of どういたしまして?

どういたしまして 【どう致しまして · 如何致しまして】 you are welcome;  don't mention it;  not at all;  my pleasure; —Usually written using kana alone. 「手伝ってくれてありがとう」「どういたしまして」 "Thank you for your help." "It's my ...
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1answer
539 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? (...
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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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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
354 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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158 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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2answers
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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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2answers
267 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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1answer
133 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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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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564 views

Etymology of 赤字/黒字

赤字 and 黒字 seem to correspond directly to the English expressions 'red ink' and 'black ink', meaning a (financial) deficit/loss and surplus, respectively. If Wiktionary is to be trusted, Mandarin, ...
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3answers
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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 "mamá", which mean father and ...
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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
560 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
104 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
736 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
15k views

Explanation of ambiguous “gokigenyou”

I googled for a bit and it seems like ご機嫌よう/ごきげんよう ("gokigenyou") has both a greeting and a farewell meaning, but I couldn't find any etymology to explain it. Does it consist of any simpler parts, or ...
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1answer
68 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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3answers
246 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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2answers
154 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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1answer
324 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 ...
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2answers
1k views

What is the etymology of the word あなた?

Is there any relation to "anatta", the Buddhist concept of non-self? I've heard that Japanese has some slight Pali/Sanskrit influences due to the arrival of Buddhism in Japan. Could these words be ...
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1answer
330 views

Why is デレる ichidan? (Etymology of デレる and デレデレ)

I thought modern slangy verbs coined from onomatopoeia and loanwords were all godan verbs (for example, ググる, コピる, ピヨる, ボコる). This has been asked several times: What are the principles behind turning ...
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1answer
260 views

Which god does 神様 actually refer to?

I have the impression that if a Japanese uses the term 神様, they refer to an omnipotent deity very similar to the Abrahamic god. According to my (very limited) knowledge of Shinto and Buddhism, there ...
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3answers
2k views

Etymology and meaning of ukemi (受け身?) as part of 合気道

I practice 合気道. We do a lot of break falling that we call ukemi. I was led to believe that it meant safe escape from a technique. However, I started looking at the Japanese and found I only had part ...

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