可愛い

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Japanese[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

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Kanji in this term

Grade: 5
あい > わい
Grade: 4
Irregular

Shift in pronunciation from kawayui below.[1]

The kanji spelling 可愛い is an example of ateji (当て字), and uses an irregular reading of . The phonological resemblance to Chinese 可愛 (kě'ài, 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]

Usage notes[edit]

Often spelled in hiragana.

Adjective[edit]

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

  1. lovable, adorable, cute
    • 2012 May 4, “ざんぎゃくさのしょう [Triumph of Cruelty]”, in アヴァシンの帰還 [Avacyn’s Return] (in Japanese), Wizards of the Coast:
      あんたより () (わい) () (たい)はたくさん ()てきたわよ、 (じゅう) () (どう) ()さん。
      Anta yori kawaii shitai wa takusan mitekita wa yo, jūmadōshi-san.
      I’ve seen corpses prettier than you, beastmage.
Inflection[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Kanji in this term
Grade: 5 Grade: 4
Irregular

A contraction of classical 顔映し /kahahayushi//kahayushi/.[1] Medial /ha/ becomes [wa] via synchronic phonological processes. It is unclear if the word before contraction was initially realized as *[kahahayushi] or as *[kawawayushi].

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (Irregular reading)

Adjective[edit]

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

  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]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  2. 2.0 2.1 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, ISBN 4-385-13905-9