Cuttings: 勉強 - Straining Studious Strength 勉強 - Straining Studious Strength | Cuttings

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November 29, 2013

勉強 - Straining Studious Strength

Pushing through learning.



Meaning / Translation

  • Literal: “Exert strength”
  • Idiomatic: “Study”
  • Reading: べんきょう (Benkyou)

Source: 語源由来辞典:



“勉強” originally meant pushing through things that you were unwilling to do, in a similar way of straining or compelling yourself through it.

The (prior) meaning of 勉強, i.e where traders buckle down to give discounts, has been in use since the Edo era, and pre-dates the meaning of seeking knowledge or learning the arts.

After the Meiji era, perseverance in the acquisition of knowledge was seen as a virtuous act. From this, it came to a point that “勉強” was used almost interchangeably with ‘learning’, hence generally coming to mean the same.


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