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
1k views

いる/える Godan Verb Rules?

For words like 帰ります is there a specific reason they're Godan instead of Ichidan in any case? Things like a change from an historical pronunciation of the word, grammar relating to the radicals of the ...
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1answer
215 views

Is the pronunciation of 翼 (tsubasa) 訓読み or 音読み?

I noticed that the first two syllables of the pronunciation of 翼 is tsuba, which sounds very similar to Chinese word 翅膀(chibang). 翅膀 is the colloquial form of 翼 in Chinese. Is this a coincidence? Or ...
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1answer
397 views

What is the etymology of Horaisan?

I don't know Japanese, however the word "Horaisan" is of deep interest to me. I've learned that it comes from Horai, the mythical mountain which is similar to the Garden of Eden myth in Japanese ...
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1answer
131 views

etymology of 冬ごもり

I know that 冬ごもり means "winter solitude" so it's clear what role 冬 has in that, but what does ごもり come from? I looked up "solitude" and "isolation" on jisho but nothing with that pronunciation seemed ...
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1answer
283 views

Question about verbs in Old Japanese

Does anybody with in-depth knowledge of Old Japanese know why vowel-based verbal stems could only end in -e or -i (leading to the える/いる or type 2 class of verbs in Modern Japanese)? Why are there no ...
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163 views

Why does 見合せ mean a service interruption?

Etymologically, why does 見合せ ("exchanging a look") mean "interruption, postponement"?
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204 views

is there any evidence that ばら is commonly understood as gay

My japanese speaking but not native friend talked about a foreign friend whose name translates to "ばら" (bara - 薔薇) with some native japanese. They quickly objected that she shouldn't call that friend ...
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1answer
185 views

Could ベビーカー be derived from “Baby carriage”?

Most etymologies I've come across for "ベビーカー" assume that it's wasei eigo based on a combination of "baby" (ベビー) and "car" (the "カー" part of "マイカー"). For example, the Japanese edition of Wikipedia ...
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呉 is an ancient kingdom in china, how did it become “to give” in japanese?

I found in the Chinese dictionary that 呉 is the name of a kingdom. But in japanese it means "to give". How did it happen ? Thanks a lot
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Why does 前 mean “past” in terms of time, but “forward” in terms of direction?

Question in title. So far I was able to find that 前 is constructed from Chinese: 舟 and 止, which can be interpreted as "leaving a footprint", hence the "past" meaning, but it seems kinda far fetched.
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615 views

Etymology of the irregularities in day-of-the-month numerals

It is of course well known that the numbers used to count days are based on the Japonic numerals, but with a bunch of irregularities when compared to the つ-numbers. Compare 1 ひとつ  ついたち 2 ふたつ  ふつか 3 ...
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1answer
268 views

The yomikata of 十三

This has been obsessing me for quite a while. While 十三 is normally pronounced ジュウサン, it is often pronounced ジュウゾウ in people's names and also pronounced ジュウソウ in names of places. I am wondering how ...
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125 views

Is the ’’おう’’' in the Volitional ending of verbs related to ''こう、そう、どう'' in any way?

Is there any knowledge on where the volitional ''おう'' Ending originated? As far as my interpretations go having seen a lot of sentences with them, Both the ''おう'' of the volitional and the ''おう'' of ’...
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1answer
96 views

Is the couple 解ける / 溶ける related to the English solve/ dissolve?

I've noticed that 解ける which means 'to be solved' and 溶ける, 'to dissolve' are pronounced the same way. Furthermore the second one can be written using the kanji of the first one. That relation between ...
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2answers
2k views

Why is 九時 (9 o'clock) pronounced “Ku-ji” and not “Kyu-ji”?

Why, when saying times in Japanese, does the pronunciation for 九 (9) change? I recently had to figure this out when my Siri wouldn't recognize it when I asked him to set an alarm for 9 o'clock, he ...
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159 views

Origin of 「~ にとって」?

I just encountered the 「~ にとって」 construction, as in: 「私にとって家族は大切です。」- "Family is important to me". I think I understand what it's supposed to mean. However, I couldn't find any information about the ...
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285 views

Did つ (助数詞) actually mean の?

There are quite a few examples were tsu actually means no. まつ毛・睫毛・睫 matsuge actually comes from 目の毛 me no ke (ma is another pronunciation for 目 me) 沖つ宮 okitsumiya(aslo written 沖津宮, but, as Meikyou ...
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209 views

Is 雷装 a synonym for 魚雷?

During reading of some Japanese Wikipedia articles (e.g. 北上, 重雷装艦) I encountered the compound 雷装{らいそう}, which I have been unable to find a definite explanation of. In their descriptive texts you will ...
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1answer
149 views

What are the uses and origins of the word 肌?

Why is there a table radical in the word 肌? In what contexts is the word 肌 used? Is 雪肌 an appropriate way to say fair skin?
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370 views

Patterns (and exceptions) for 自動詞 - 他動詞 pairs

As a 3rd year student of Japanese, I don't have all that wide a vocabulary yet, but have noticed that, typically, the following patterns are observable in terms of the word endings for transitive-...
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2answers
293 views

Why is 洛 associated with Kyoto / the capital?

I recently found out that the kanji 洛 is associated with Kyoto / the capital. Here are some example words showing this association: 洛内【らくない】 : "in Kyoto or the capital" 洛外【らくがい】 : "outside Kyoto or ...
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1answer
406 views

Is there a difference between 嘘つき and 嘘つけ ?

Any subtle differences in meaning or respect? Which is more common? Or is it just another one of those words like やはり/やっぱり/やぱり, しょうがない/しかたない、あんまり/あまり etc. with no difference at all other than ...
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2answers
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What is the significance of a repeated radical in a Kanji character?

What is the significance (if any) of a repeated radical in a Kanji character? I have been learning Kanji for almost a year now. In the early days my assumption would have been that repeating a ...
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3answers
4k views

Does 韓国 mean “South Korea” or “Korea as a whole”?

When I type in 韓国 in Google, I find South Korea. But when I use Google Translate, I find just Korea. I recently read a Japanese news article where they refer 韓国 as South Korea (I think). So what is ...
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1answer
150 views

the origin of Japanese suffix (だ)-っけ

everyone. I am currently writing a paper on sentence final suffixes in Japanese especially those used in conversation. I encounter a problem as to what is the origin of -っけ (eg. 名前は何だっけ?) . Is it ...
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2answers
135 views

What is the Kanji for すがり in 通りすがり?

I can't find any kanji or meaning for sugari or sugaru that matches that makes sense for the meaning of 通りすがり.
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10k views

Why does “hajimete” mean “for the first time”?

はじめて(hajimete) is the te-form of the verb はじめる(hajimeru) - to begin. How come it means "for the first time" and is used appropriately to mean the whole phrase? Is it an idiom?
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3answers
594 views

Why Was Jaguar Borrowed as ジャガー?

It's listed as being borrowed from English, but even if it were the case that it had been borrowed from Portuguese, it's still pronounced /ɡwɑɹ/ and not /ɡɑɹ/. Japanese phonology is also perfectly ...
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712 views

Etymology of ゴミ

I'm curious why is ゴミ commonly spelled in Katakana. What word is it derived from, if any?
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Hifumi vs Ichi Ni San

一二三 in Japanese is read as ichi ni san to mean, one two three. But it can also be read as hifumi. What does hifumi mean? From http://quest-for-japan.com/others/one-to-ten-in-japanese-2/ , it says it ...
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1answer
439 views

Why isn't there any “original” japanese word for “page”?

In my last Japanese class, I asked my teacher, who is a native speaker, why the japanese word for "page" was taken from the English language ("pēji"), because apparently there were already books ("hon"...
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1answer
430 views

Why is こおり spelt with an お rather than an う?

I thought that syllables with an "お" sound get lengthened by an "う" rather than another "お". I've seen this question asked on hinative, which mentions 遠い(とおい), 大きい (おおきい), 多い (おおい), 通り (とおり/どおり) and ...
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2answers
982 views

is よう sometimes used exactly like the american greeting/interjection “yo!”?

I was reading about よう on Wiktionary and it says: Interjection[edit] よう (rōmaji yō) A very informal greeting similar to yo. よう、元{げん}気{き}? Yō, genki? Yo! Howdy? A very informal (...
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1answer
151 views

Verbs Which Change Form but not Meaning

I have noticed that there are a number of verbs in Japanese which have common alternative forms, especially potential form, but these forms have identical meanings. One of these is 焼く, which appears ...
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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 ...
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1answer
606 views

Why is the English word “studio” transcribed as スタジオ?

So I'm aware that transcription into Japanese is not always clear-cut, and there are plenty of exceptions. It sort of makes sense that "Australia" is オーストラリア not *オーストレリア and "stadium" is スタジアム not *...
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1answer
237 views

Naming things after people

European languages seem to name things after people (or people-like things) on a very regular basis. We have everything from 'Mount Everest' and 'Washington, DC' to 'Robert A Welch Hall'. Places named ...
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1answer
224 views

Origin of じゃ as contraction of では

What is the origin of the contraction では→じゃ? I googled around for a bit, but I wasn't able to find any answer at all.
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366 views

How did 本 come to mean “this?”

I'm researching the kanji 本 for a blog post. I understand its original meaning is "root", and the other two senses, "book" and "this," are semantic shifts. I've found a couple of sources (without ...
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1answer
228 views

What is the origin of the term _akachinki_, borrowed into Korean as _akkajinki_? (Meaning “Mercurochrome” or “Merbromin”)

There is a topical antiseptic called Mercurochrome or Merbromin. According to the Korean Wikipedia article, an alternative name for this in Korean is [아]【a】[까]【kka】[징]【jin】[끼]【kki】 (possibly also ...
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2answers
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Why is 一日 'tsuitachi'?

Why is it 'tsuitachi' if the pronunciation can only be ichi, hito, or hitotsu?
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2answers
328 views

Meaning of 忌々しい

Is it true that the meaning of 忌々しい is "annoying"? What is the root word of 忌々しい and its meaning? Is it 忌まう?
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141 views

Grammar justification for 「〜わりに(は)」

I recently came across this expression, for which you can find the meaning rather quickly just by looking it up on google (for example: http://www.imabi.net/considering.htm) An example (from the ...
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1answer
215 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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2answers
3k views

Why is “konnichi wa” written with は and not わ? [duplicate]

Why is "konnichi wa" in hiragana with は and not わ?
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1answer
377 views

can any han character/kanji be used as part of the japanese writting system?

There is something that's confusing me. As far as I understand, kanjis were adopted by japaneses when they arrived to Japan in the form of official seals, letters, swords, coins, mirrors, etc. And ...
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3answers
332 views

is the symbol 𡱝 (U+21C5D) a kanji?

Again, I was seeing the kanji for the word slow, 遅 and for remembering it I was trying to decompose it. This part 𡱝 looks like a kanji but I can't find anywhere its meaning if it's really a kanji. Is ...
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1answer
200 views

Origin of the verb 茶化す?

Does anyone know the origin of the verb 茶化す, which translates as 'to tease, to make fun of, to kid'? Is is somehow related to "breaking teacups"?
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2answers
547 views

Did my teacher make this etymology for もしもし up?

I was reading this question, and realized that I had been told something outlandishly different. To be clear, what I was told didn't change the usage of もしもし to be something different. I was told ...
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1answer
2k views

Why is “many gods” (八十神) exactly eighty?

Looking under terms that include かみ/神, I was interested to find "八十神" defined as "many gods; many deities". Jisho.org lists it as an "archaism", though. I see the term appear in this Japanese ...

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