Wiktionary:Japanese Swadesh list

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Conventions used[edit]

  • Only 和語 words were considered for this list. 漢語 and other 外来語 have been excluded.
  • Japanese words sometimes function differently than the grammatical categories applied to them. For instance, "not" in Japanese is not a discrete word, but rather a verbal suffix. Such differences are explained in the Usage and Notes columns.
  • The kanji listed include archaic usage. Do not attempt to blindly use these kanji and expect to be understood.
  • Multiple kanji for a single word are separated by a nakaguro, as in 「其処・其所・其」 for 「そこ」.
  • Kanji for different words in a single entry row are separated by a comma, as in 「彼, 彼の」 for 「あれ,あの」.
  • In kanji lists for entry rows with multiple synonyms, nonexistent kanji are indicated by empty brackets, as in 「皆, 全て, [[]], [[]]」for 「みんな, すべて, すっかり, あらゆる」.
  • Japanese "pronouns" are considered by some linguists to be more "referential nouns" than strict pronouns. Pronouns allow no modification -- for instance, you cannot grammatically say "the tall he", and must instead use a relative clause, such as "he that is tall". In contrast, Japanese "pronouns" can be directly modified, much like regular nouns -- it is grammatical to say 「背の高い彼」. Furthermore, many Japanese "pronouns" have historically evolved from common nouns, and as such have fundamentally different etymologies from the pronouns utilized in the Indo-European languages for which the Swadesh list was initially developed. Swadesh was attempting to show glottochronological correlations between words from different languages, but the wildly different etymologies of these Japanese "pronouns" defy such correlation. Certain pronoun entries below are therefore left blank.

The list[edit]

English POS Main Cat. Hiragana Kanji Usage Note
1 I pronoun わたし Only first-person pronoun in Japanese that does not derive from a common noun -- originally meant "private" (i.e. "not public"), while meant "servant".
2 thou
(singular)
pronoun なんじ
3 he pronoun かれ Originally meant "that thing yonder", similar to あれ. Later came to mean any person aside from the speaker(s) and listener(s), and was used for both male and female referents up until the Meiji period.
4 we pronoun わたしたち See usage above for わたし. Combination of わたし + pluralizing suffix たち.
5 you
(plural)
pronoun あなたがた 貴方
6 they pronoun かれ Combination of かれ + pluralizing suffix .
7 this これ, この , 此の斯の これ is used as a noun, as in これ食べる I eat this. この is used as an adjective, as in このケーキ食べる I eat this cake. Primarily written in kana, while the diversity of kanji forms are seen almost exclusively in archaic texts. Note that the の ending of the adjectival form seems to be the possessive / copulative .
8 that
(closer by)
それ, その , 其の それ is used as a noun, as in それ食べる I eat that. その is used as an adjective, as in そのケーキ食べる I eat that cake.

Note that the そ forms denote something closer to the listener than the speaker, while the あ forms denote something removed from both speaker and listener.

Primarily written in kana, while the diversity of kanji forms are seen almost exclusively in archaic texts. Note that the の ending of the adjectival forms equates to the possessive / copulative .
8.5 that
(far off, i.e. "yon")
あれ, あの , 彼の あれ is used as a noun, as in あれ食べる I eat that. あの is used as an adjective, as in あのケーキ食べる I eat that cake.

Note that the そ forms denote something closer to the listener than the speaker, while the あ forms denote something removed from both speaker and listener.

Primarily written in kana, while the diversity of kanji forms are seen almost exclusively in archaic texts. Note that the の ending of the adjectival forms seems to be the possessive / copulative .
9 here ここ 此処此所 Note the overlap with これ. The suffix () denotes "place".
10 there
(closer by)
そこ 其処其所 Note that the そ forms denote something closer to the listener than the speaker, while the あ forms denote something removed from both speaker and listener. Note the overlap with それ. The suffix () denotes "place".
10.5 there
(far off, i.e. "yon")
あそこ 彼処 Note that the そ forms denote something closer to the listener than the speaker, while the あ forms denote something removed from both speaker and listener. あこ may also be heard, but あそこ is the more common variant.

Note the overlap with あれ. The suffix () denotes "place".

11 who だれ Also sometimes たれ (). Used only to refer to people.

Of general politeness, だれ is the most commonly used form of "who". Alternate expressions include どなた (何方) (more polite), どのかた (どの方) (more polite), and どいつ (less polite).

Note the overlap with これそれあれどれ.
12 what なに Shortens to なん before certain words, the most common example being です, as in 何ですか nan desu ka, "what is it?"
13 where どこ 何処何所 Alternate form is いずこ (何処), archaic. Note overlap with いずれ (何れ) "which". Note the overlap with ここそこあそこ, and with どれ "which". The suffix () denotes "place".
14 when いつ 何時 These kanji are very seldom used for いつ, and are used instead for the word なんじ "what time".
15 how どう, いかが 如何 どう is of general politeness. いかが is more formal.

These kanji are very seldom used for どう, and occasionally used for いかが.

16 not ない This is a verbal suffix and not a discrete word. Usually follows the 未然形 (irrealis) form of the verb, eg. つかう "use" → つかわ + ない = つかわない "not use".
17 all みんな, すべて, すっかり, あらゆる , 全て, [[]], [[]]
18 many adjective おおい 多い
19 some すこし, ちょっと 少し, 一寸 ちょっと is almost never written in kanji in modern Japanese.
20 few adjective すくない 少ない
21 other adjective ほかの 他の外の The の here is the possessive / copulative . ほか is seldom written in kanji, but when it is, the 他 form is more common.
22 one number ひと Usually followed by suffix つ when counting generic things, becoming ひとつ. The more complicated kanji form is reserved for bank notes and other contexts where it is important to avoid "editing" the simpler kanji into a higher denomination.
23 two number ふた Usually followed by suffix つ when counting generic things, becoming ふたつ. The more complicated kanji form is reserved for bank notes and other contexts where it is important to avoid "editing" the simpler kanji into a higher denomination.

The 双 form is generally not used for "two", but it is commonly used in the word Template:nihongo "twin(s)".

24 three number Usually followed by suffix つ when counting generic things, normally becoming みっつ. The more complicated kanji form is reserved for bank notes and other contexts where it is important to avoid "editing" the simpler kanji into a higher denomination.
25 four number よんすむいすむゆ Usually followed by suffix つ when counting generic things, normally becoming よっつ. The more complicated kanji form is reserved for bank notes and other contexts where it is important to avoid "editing" the simpler kanji into a higher denomination.

The すむい・すむゆ pronunciations are reserved for games played on the hands, similar to the English "eenie meenie minie moe".

26 five number いつ Usually followed by suffix つ when counting generic things, normally becoming いつつ. The more complicated kanji form is reserved for bank notes and other contexts where it is important to avoid "editing" the simpler kanji into a higher denomination.
27 big adjective おおきいおおきな 大きい大きな This is one of the few irregular adjectives in Japanese, straddling the line between the so-called "i-adjectives" (形容詞) and "na-adjectives" (形容動詞). When in sentence-final position, the い form is used exclusively.
28 long adjective ながい 長い永い The 長 kanji is the most commonly used. 永 may be used when describing a length of time. Considered to come from the same root as the verb pair 流れる・流す (ながれる・ながす), "to flow" / "to make flow".
29 wide adjective ひろい 広い寛い闊い弘い The 広 kanji is the most commonly used.
30 thick adjective あつい, ふとい 厚い, 太い あつい describes flat things: 厚いコート (あついこーと), a thick coat.

ふとい describes round things: 太い首 (ふといくび), a thick neck.

あつい is considered to come from the same root as the verb pair 集まる・集める (あつまる・あつめる), "to gather" (v.i.) / "to gather" (v.t.).
31 heavy adjective おもい 重い
32 small adjective ちいさいちいさな 小さい小さな This is one of the few irregular adjectives in Japanese, straddling the line between the so-called "i-adjectives" (形容詞) and "na-adjectives" (形容動詞). When in sentence-final position, the い form is used exclusively.
33 short adjective みじかい 短い Generally only used as an antonym to 長い "long", but occasionally seen as antonym to 高い "tall".
34 narrow adjective ほそい, せまい 細い, 狭い 細い refers to something narrow as seen from the outside, as a neck or a pencil. 狭い refers to something narrow as seen from the inside, as a street or a room.
35 thin adjective うすい, ほそい 薄い, 細い 薄い can refer to thin color, thin liquid (as in thin ink), or thin flat things (as in thin paper or clothing). 細い can refer to a thin person.
36 woman noun おんな
37 man
(adult male)
noun おとこ
38 man
(human being)
noun ひと Note overlap with ひと "one".
39 child
(a youth)
noun こども 子供 Used equally to refer to one child or many children. Literally ("child") + ("member" or "with").
40 wife noun つま Only used to refer to one's own wife.
41 husband noun おっと Only used to refer to one's own husband.
42 mother noun はは, おかあさん , お母さん 母 is only used to refer to one's own mother. お母さん can be used both as a term of address to one's own mother, or to refer to another's mother. The さん ending is an honorific suffix.
43 father noun ちち, おとうさん , お父さん 父 is only used to refer to one's own father. お父さん can be used both as a term of address to one's own father, or to refer to another's father. The さん ending is an honorific suffix.
44 animal noun animal けもの, けだもの Both pronunciations are written with the same kanji. Meaning roughly closer to English "beast". Literally means "hairy thing", from words () "hair" and もの () "thing".
45 fish noun animal さかな Etymologically a compound noun, coming from さか (alternate for さけ () "liquor" or "rice wine") and () "snack" or "side dish".
46 bird noun animal とり
47 dog noun animal いぬ
48 louse noun animal しらみ This may be a compound noun, comprising しら "white" + み "body".
49 snake noun animal へび
50 worm noun animal むし
51 tree noun plant
52 forest noun [[]] もり
53 stick
(of wood)
noun [[]] えだ
54 fruit noun [[]] かじつ 果実
55 seed noun [[]] たね
56 leaf noun [[]]
57 root noun [[]]
58 bark
(of tree)
noun [[]] きはだ 木肌
59 flower noun [[]] はな
60 grass noun [[]] くさ
61 rope noun [[]] さく
62 skin
(of a person)
noun [[]] はだ
63 meat
(as in flesh)
noun [[]] にく
64 blood noun [[]]
65 bone noun [[]] ほね
66 fat
(noun)
noun [[]] あぶら
67 egg noun [[]] たまご
68 horn noun [[]] つの
69 tail noun [[]]
70 feather
(rather not down)
noun [[]] はね
71 hair noun body part Used alone this refers more commonly to fur. Typically in Japanese the type of hair must be explicitly stated as well, as in 髪の毛 the hair of your "mane" or rather the hair of your head. Others include 鼻毛 nose hair, 眉毛 eyebrows, among others.
72 head noun body part あたま
73 ear noun body part みみ
74 eye noun body part
75 nose noun body part はな
76 mouth noun body part くち
77 tooth
(rather not molar)
noun body part
78 tongue noun body part した
79 fingernail noun body part つめ
80 foot noun body part あし ,
81 leg noun body part あしすね ,
82 knee noun body part ひざ
83 hand noun body part
84 wing noun body part つばさ
85 belly noun body part はら
86 guts noun body part きもちょう ,
87 neck noun body part くび
88 back noun body part
89 breast noun body part むねふところ
90 heart noun body part こころ
91 liver noun body part きも
92 to drink verb [[]] のむ 飲む
93 to eat verb [[]] くう 食う
94 to bite verb [[]] かむ
95 to suck verb [[]] すう 吸う
96 to spit verb [[]] はく 吐く Note the similarity to 97. To indicate spit specifically, the object can be included, as in 鍔を吐く.
97 to vomit verb [[]] はく 吐く
98 to blow
(as wind)
verb [[]] ふく 吹く
99 to breathe verb [[]] いきをする 息をする
100 to laugh verb [[]] わらう 笑う
101 to see verb [[]] みる 見る
102 to hear verb [[]] きく 聞く
103 to know
(a fact)
verb [[]] しる 知る
104 to think verb [[]] おもう, かんがえる 思う, 考える
105 to smell
(sense odor)
verb [[]] かぐ 嗅ぐ
106 to fear verb [[]] おそれる 恐れる
107 to sleep verb [[]] ねむる 眠る
108 to live verb [[]] いきる 生きる
109 to die verb [[]] しぬ 死ぬ
110 to kill verb [[]] ころす 殺す
111 to fight verb [[]] たたかう 戦う
112 to hunt
(transitive)
verb [[]] かる 狩る
113 to hit verb [[]] うつ 打つ
114 to cut verb [[]] きる 切る
115 to split verb [[]] わる 割る
116 to stab
(or stick)
verb [[]] さす 刺す
117 to scratch
(an itch)
verb [[]] かく 掻く
118 to dig verb [[]] ほる 掘る
119 to swim verb [[]] およぐ 泳ぐ
120 to fly verb [[]] とぶ 飛ぶ
121 to walk verb [[]] あるく 歩く
122 to come verb [[]] くる 来る
123 to lie
(as on one's side)
verb [[]] ねる 寝る
124 to sit verb [[]] すわる 座る
125 to stand verb [[]] たつ 立つ
126 to turn
(change direction)
verb [[]] まわる 回る
127 to fall
(as in drop)
verb [[]] おちる 落ちる
128 to give verb [[]] あたえる 与える
129 to hold
(in one's hand)
verb [[]] もつ 持つ
130 to squeeze  (with one's hand) verb [[]] にぎる 握る
131 to rub verb [[]] する 擦る
132 to wash verb [[]] あらう 洗う
133 to wipe verb [[]] ふく, ぬぐう 拭く, 拭う
134 to pull verb [[]] ひく・ひっぱる 引く・引っ張る
135 to push verb [[]] おす 押す
136 to throw verb [[]] なげる 投げる
137 to tie verb [[]] むすぶ・くくる・しばる 結ぶ・括る・縛る
138 to sew verb [[]] ぬう 縫う
139 to count verb [[]] かぞえる 数える
140 to say verb [[]] いう 言う
141 to sing verb [[]] うたう 歌う
142 to play verb [[]] あそぶ 遊ぶ
143 to float verb [[]] うく 浮く
144 to flow verb [[]] ながれる 流れる
145 to freeze verb [[]] こおる 凍る
146 to swell verb [[]] ふくらむ, ふくれる, はれる 膨らむ, 膨れる, 腫れる
147 sun noun [[]]
148 moon noun [[]] つき
149 star noun [[]] ほし
150 water noun [[]] みず Typically only used for drinkable fresh water. Hot water is お湯
151 to rain verb [[]] あめがふる 雨が降る
152 river noun [[]] かわ
153 lake noun [[]] みずうみ
154 sea
(as in ocean)
noun [[]] うみ
155 salt noun [[]] しお
156 stone noun [[]] いし
157 sand noun [[]] すな
158 dust noun [[]] ほこり
159 earth
(as in soil)
noun [[]] つち
160 cloud noun [[]] くも
161 fog noun [[]] きり
162 sky noun [[]] そら
163 wind
(as in breeze)
noun [[]] かぜ
164 snow noun [[]] ゆき
165 ice noun [[]] こおり
166 smoke noun [[]] けむり
167 fire noun [[]]
168 ashes noun [[]] はい
169 to burn
(intransitive)
verb [[]] もえる 燃える
170 road noun [[]] みち
171 mountain noun noun やま
172 red adjective color あか
173 green adjective color みどり
174 yellow adjective color きいろ 黄色
175 white adjective color しろ
176 black adjective color くろ
177 night noun [[]] よる
178 day
(daytime)
noun [[]] ひる This typically only includes the day between noon and dusk.
179 year noun [[]] とし
180 warm
(as in weather)
adjective [[]] あたたかい 暖かい
181 cold
(as in weather)
adjective [[]] さむい 寒い
182 full adjective [[]] いっぱい いっぱい
183 new adjective [[]] あたらしい 新しい
184 old adjective [[]] ふるい 古い
185 good adjective [[]] よい 良い
186 bad adjective [[]] わるい 悪い
187 rotten
(as, a log)
adjective [[]] くさった 腐った This is actually a verb in its past tense, not an adjective.
188 dirty adjective [[]] きたない 汚い
189 straight adjective [[]] まっすぐ 真っ直ぐ
190 round adjective [[]] まるい 丸い
191 sharp
(as a knife)
adjective [[]] するどい 鋭い
192 dull
(as a knife)
adjective [[]] にぶい 鈍い
193 smooth adjective [[]] なめらか 滑らか
194 wet adjective [[]] ぬれている 濡れている This is actually a verb in its continuative aspect.
195 dry
(adjective)
adjective [[]] ほしている・かわいている 干している・乾いている Both words are actually verbs in the continuative aspect.
196 right
(correct)
[[]] [[]] ただしい 正しい
197 near adjective [[]] ちかい 近い
198 far adjective [[]] とおい 遠い
199 right
(side)
noun [[]] みぎ
200 left
(side)
noun [[]] ひだり
201 at preposition [[]] [[]]
202 in preposition [[]] [[]]
203 with
(accompanying)
preposition [[]] [[]]
204 and conjunction [[]] [[]]
205 if [[]] [[]] [[]]
206 because [[]] [[]] [[]]
207 name noun [[]] なまえ 名前