可愛い

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Japanese[edit]

Kanji in this term
Grade: 5 Grade: 4

Etymology 1[edit]

From kawayui (see below).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ka.wa.i.i/, [kä.ɰᵝä.iː]

Usage notes[edit]

Often spelled in hiragana.

Adjective[edit]

可愛い (-i inflection, hiragana かわいい, historical hiragana かはいい, romaji kawaii)

  1. lovable, adorable, cute
Inflection[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

A contraction of 顔映し /kahahayushi/ > /kahayushi/. Medial /ha/ becomes [wa] via synchronic phonological processes. It is unclear if the word before contraction was initially realized as *[kahahayushi] or as *[kawawayushi].

The kanji spelling 可愛い is an example of ateji, and uses an irregular reading of 愛. The phonological resemblance to Chinese 可愛 ("lovable") is coincidental. Note that the medial -w- here is not an excrescence added between ka () and ai (), since the word is not formed from these morphemes.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /kawajui/, [kä.ɰᵝä.jɯᵝ.i]

Adjective[edit]

可愛い (-i inflection, hiragana かわゆい, historical hiragana かはゆい, romaji kawayui)

  1. embarrassed, having a guilty conscience: see 顔映し (kawahayushi).
  2. (obsolete) pitiable, pitiful
    • 1632, Diego Collado, Dictionarium sive thesauri linguae Iaponicae compendium
      Miſerabilis, e: coſa que cauſa laſtima, cavaij.
      (Latin:) Wretched; (Spanish:) thing that causes pity, kawaii.
  3. lovable, adorable, cute
Inflection[edit]