From Middle Chinese compound 一寸 (yit tshwonH, literally “one thumb, one inch”).
一寸 (hiragana いっすん, romaji issun)
- one sun: a unit of length equivalent to a tenth of a 尺 (shaku, traditional Japanese foot as a unit of length), or approximately 3.03 centimeters
- a short amount of time, distance, or mass
- 一寸先 (issun saki): just a little bit ahead, just a moment in the future
- 一寸先は闇 (issun saki wa yami): “just a moment in the future is darkness” → the future is unknowable
- 一寸の光陰軽んずべからず (issun no kōin karonzu bekarazu): “a moment of light and dark should not be taken lightly” → every moment is precious
- 一寸の虫にも五分の魂 (issun no mushi ni mo gobu no tamashī): “even a bug only an inch long is half [full of] soul” → even the smallest is worthy of respect
- 一寸下は地獄 (issun shita wa jigoku): “an inch below is hell” → an allusion to the dangers of being on a boat, where only an inch of wood is between oneself and the deep ocean
- 一寸延びれば尋延びる (issun no bireba hiro nobiru): “if it'll stretch an inch, it'll stretch for six feet” → if one can just get past the hardest part, the rest is relatively easy
From ちっと (chitto), itself a geminated emphatic form of Old Japanese ちと (chito), originally composed of ち (chi, “small”, not used in isolation; cognate with the chi in 小さい chīsai) + と (to, adverbial particle).
一寸 (hiragana ちょっと, romaji chotto)
- slightly, a little, a bit
- an indirect expression of refusal
Usually spelled in hiragana, as ちょっと.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, ISBN 4-385-13905-9
- ^ 1988, 国語大辞典（新装版） (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan