Verb etymologies

Hello everyone,

as I plod along learning new verbs, two questions come to mind:

Are all verbs with the same reading somehow the same ‘proto’-verb or something like that? For example, many verbs read つ + some u-kana with a lot of different meanings. Does that mean they originally were the same but have been applied to different situations and now they’re ‘same but different’?

Also, several verbs seem to have a なう-ending. 失う、養う、伴う、償う come to mind. Any relation here? Any significance behind the なう?


This entry about 失う mentions that the うし part is etymologically related to うすい, and that the なう part is etymologically the same なう as in 行う and 商う, but presumably also in the ones you mentioned. They just happened to pick other examples.失う(うしなう)の語源・由来/#語源・由来

Presumably, you would find other patterns looking for other etymology entries. Some will just be coincidences, but some will be relics of ancient connections.


Can you give some concrete examples? Reading the first part, I thought you were asking about different verbs with the exact same reading and related meanings (e.g. 聞く・聴く・訊く), but then your “for example” is throwing me off since it sounds like you’re talking about verbs that have different readings.

Was the “verbs that end in なう” example not clearer?

OP said they had two questions, so I assumed they were unrelated.

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Yes - examples:


so these have ‘different’ readings but they’re all つ+ u-kana, and I can’t really see that they have related meanings. I think there are other verbs too that have the same ‘stem’ but not the same meaning.

So it’s not really about the related meaning kind of verbs, those I can understand how they’ve evolved.

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So the question is basically (with this example), does つ in itself come with some kind of meaning/nuance/feeling to it. Something like that?

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I guess I was just looking at it from, it’s a bit easier to see how the verbs are composed of related elements when they’re a bit longer like that, but it still works the same way with shorter verbs as well, I assume.

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Yes - I guess I am just puzzled that so many distinct verbs would end up with the same reading by chance. But つ is short and sweet so maybe it’s just that?

You’re right about this, both questions did relate to common patterns, though I did mean the questions to be distinct.

I think when things are shorter you’re also more likely to get coincidences. You can often get many unrelated verbs in English with the same 2-3 first letters. I’d guess it’s the same here in Japanese. (Which is to say that even if some are related, many probably aren’t.)


Um, I don’t know how to mark two separate replies as solutions… Is that possible?

Nope, you have to pick one.

(I got two notifications that you selected two of my posts and then saw you selected Leebo’s last. :laughing:)


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