Welcome to Kanji Curiosity | The Basics | Glossary
What do you think the following word means?
The first kanji, 虚 (KYO, KO, muna(shii)), means “empty” or “false,” as we saw long ago. You may recognize 誕 from 誕生日 (tanjōbi: birthday, to be born + to be born + day), where 誕 means “to be born, birth.” So 虚誕 is a false birth?! No, 誕 has other meanings, and the pertinent one in 虚誕 relates to the original definition of 誕.
In 誕, the radical is 言 (words). That’s not entirely obvious, because every component in 誕 can serve as a radical!
Meanwhile, 延 is “to stretch, extend,” also acting phonetically in 誕 to express “big.” With “big, stretched words,” you have bragging or exaggerations. Thus, 誕 originally meant “deception” or “false.”
虚誕 (kyotan: exaggerated talk) false + false
That’s not the whole etymological story, though. The word 降誕 (kōtan: holy birth, royal birth, to descend (from heaven) + birth) originally meant “making a fuss about a holy (or royal) birth.” That makes sense, given the exaggerations inherent in 誕 back then. Consequently, “birth” became an extended meaning of 誕, which we can define in an assortment of ways:
誕 (TAN: to be born, nativity, false, to be arbitrary)
誕生 (tanjō: birth, creation, formation) to be born + to be born
We saw 誕生 two weeks ago in this koala sign:
The 誕 kanji doesn’t just factor into words about early koala development. It also pops up in words that span a lifetime (koala, human, or otherwise):
The one-year celebration of a birth:
初誕生 (hatsutanjō: first birthday)
first + to be born + to be born
The 100-year celebration of a birth:
生誕百年 (seitan hyakunen: 100th-birthday anniversary)
to be born + to be born + 100 + years
Depending on what order you’re reading in, you may have just seen 生誕 (seitan: birth) on a side page.
Whoa! From the first birthday to the hundredth in a matter of seconds! Where did the time go?!
The 誕 kanji can even help us talk about life after death:
再誕 (saitan: resurrection (of a company or school, etc.))
again + to be born
This is an uncommon word. People usually use 再生 (saisei: resurrection, rebirth, again + to live) to refer to the resurrection of a company, school, airline, and so on.
Speaking of death, it seems that today’s blog has come to an end. But there’s life after death in the form of a Verbal Logic Quiz! Enjoy!