big; great; huge; large; major; wide; deep; oldest; eldest; doctor
mix together; peace; harmony; and; with; union; cap (a poem); respond in singing; soft; warm
|simp. and trad.
|Kanji in this term|
|Grade: 1||Grade: 3|
/yamato2/: [jamatə] → [jamato]
Chinese texts often used the word 倭 (“dwarf, midget”) to refer to the people of the Japanese archipelago, possibly because they were actually smaller, or more likely as an insult. This character came to be used in early Japanese texts, such as the Man'yōshū poetry compilation, with a kun'yomi or native-Japanese reading of Yamato to refer to Japan in general.
This 倭 character also has an on'yomi or borrowed Chinese reading of wa. During the reign of Empress Genmei (707–715), the 倭 character with an original Chinese meaning of “midget, dwarf” was replaced with the 和 character that is also read wa, but instead has the more positive meaning of “harmony”, in spellings of the native Japanese term Yamato. The 和 character also has a kun'yomi of yawa, which would have been yaba in ancient times, suggesting another possible phonetic reason to use 和 to spell Yamato (on a softening of the “b”: yaba → yama). The 大 character meaning “great” was then prefixed to this. The resulting kanji compound 大和 can also be read with a kun'yomi of Ōyamato.
- a town in the Shikinoshimo district in the Yamato Province of Japan, generally equivalent to modern Tenri area
- a city in Kanagawa Prefecture
- one of the old provinces that made up Japan, generally equivalent to modern Nara prefecture
- the country of Japan
- A male given name
- A surname
- (Japan): 日本 (Nihon, Nippon)
- 奈良 (Nara)