日本語のEtymology Resources

I’m curious if anyone has seen good resources that show the roots for where Japanese words came from?

So if we look at a random word like: 興味 that uses the 音読み/Chinese readings, was the meaning from this imported with the Kanji/Pronunciation, or was this an adaptation of existing Japanese language using the Chinese writing system?

I’m thinking something similar to the way the Oxford dictionary lists the roots of English words; although, not quite the same of course.

宜しくお願いいたします。

エダ

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Captain Obvious Mode: I seen opinions that Japanese wikipedia is full of stuff about Japanese, but it requires solid reading skills ; /

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Usually I type “word + 語源” in google. 語源 is etymology in Japanese.

Roughly, when a word uses 音読み, there are 3 cases:

  • Meaning and sound was imported from Classical Chinese. But as all languages, the original meaning can get distorted, mutated, meme-ified overtime. For example, 勉強 was originally borrowed as “forced to do something”. But in ancient Japan, reluctantly do something even if you don’t like it is a virtue so the meaning of “studying” gradually catched on.

  • Ateji: existing native Japanese word assigned kanji based on sounds, hint: the meaning of the word would have nothing to do with the meaning of the characters like 寿司. But that sometimes would get difficult to distinguish from the aforementioned historical meaning change.

  • Waseikango: words coined by Japanese using the ingredients of kanji, for example: 電気, 民主. I tried to find a list of this but can only get a few examples on wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasei-kango

Btw, there are words that historians aren’t even sure how that came about like 馬鹿.

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凄く手伝っています。どうもありがとう!

ジョん

Sorry, just came across this and was curious:

馬鹿 isn’t ateji?

All but one of the suggested origins on wikipedia seems to be ateji. The final option is that during the Qin dynasty some eunuchs brought a dear into the palace and said “Look at this strange horse I found” , anyone who was willing to point out it was a dear was deemed disloyal and killed. Seemingly there are problems with that theory but it is the funniest.
Interestingly the english wikipedia actually has more information, and apparently the idea of sycophants telling someone a deer is a horse also appears as an idiom in the Tale Of Genji

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Look up the word on English or Japanese Wikitionary; it’s what I use.

Wiktionary is very good, especially for kanji.

例えば
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/浅

Another good option is

word + 由来
This is the word for origin. You get answers on yahoo or other Japanese forums. Less formal but it gives good colloquial answers.

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