難い

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Japanese[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Kanji in this term
かた
Grade: 6
kun'yomi

From Old Japanese. The meaning developed from 堅い ‎(katai, hard, stiff, immovable) to overtones of difficult.[1][2] Compare the similar development of English hard.

The difficult meaning was already apparent in the Man'yōshū, completed in the latter half of the 700s.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

難い ‎(-i inflection, hiragana かたい, romaji katai)

  1. (archaic) difficult
    • c. 759, Man'yōshū (book 14, poem #3401), text here:
      中麻奈尓 (なかまなに)宇伎乎流布祢能 (うきをるふねの)許藝弖奈婆 (こぎでなば)安布許等 (あふこと)可多思 (かたし)家布尓思安良受波 (けふにしあらずは)
      nakamana ni, ukioru fune no, kogidenaba, afu koto katashi, kefu ni shiarazu wa
      If you go out rowing the boat floating on the Nakamana [river], meeting would be difficult, if we don't do it today.
Usage notes[edit]

This term is seldom used as an independent term in modern Japanese. It appears much more commonly as a suffix, as described below.

Conjugation[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Kanji in this term
がた
Grade: 6
kun'yomi

Shift in pronunciation from katai above, as this term became more of a fused suffix than an independent term.[1][2] The katai changes to gatai due to rendaku (連濁).

Pronunciation[edit]

Suffix[edit]

難い ‎(hiragana がたい, romaji -gatai)

  1. difficult or hard to do
    This suffix attaches to the 連用形 ‎(ren'yōkei, continuative or stem form) of a verb to express the difficulty of doing the action.
    • c. 935: Tosa Nikki, page 3[3]
      年頃 (としごろ)よく (くら)べつる人人 (ひとびと)なむ、 (わか) (がた) (おも)ひて、 ()しきりに、とかくしつつ、ののしるうちに、夜更 (よらふ)けぬ。
      Toshigoro yoku kurabetsuru hitobito namu, wakaregataku omohite, hi shikiri ni, tokaku shitsutsu, nonoshiru uchi ni, yora fukenu.
      Those who were close for many years found it difficult to part, and while boisterously getting things done all day, the night deepened.
Conjugation[edit]
Synonyms[edit]
Antonyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Kanji in this term
にく
Grade: 6
kun'yomi

Derived as the suffixization of Old Japanese adjective 憎い ‎(nikui, disagreeable, dislikeable, modern “hateful, abominable”).[1][2] Cognate with 憎む ‎(nikumu, to hate).[2]

Pronunciation[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Suffix[edit]

難い ‎(hiragana にくい, romaji -nikui)

  1. difficult or hard to do (emphasis on the disagreeability of performing the action)
    This suffix attaches to the 連用形 ‎(ren'yōkei, continuative or stem form) of a verb to express the difficulty of doing the action.
Usage notes[edit]

More commonly spelled in hiragana, as にくい.

Conjugation[edit]
Synonyms[edit]
Antonyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, ISBN 4-385-13905-9
  3. ^ 1989, Masaharu Hasegawa; Yūichirō Imanishi, Hiroshi Itō, Hiroshi Yoshioka, Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei 24: Tosa Nikki, Kagerō Nikki, Murasaki Shikibu Nikki, Sarashina Nikki, Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten, ISBN 4-00-240024-7: