Tokyo Damage Report

Japanese ‘reverse thesaraus’

I started a Wiki to help people who are studying Japanese.

I’m trying to help with a specific problem;

Say you’re reading some Japanese and you come to a word you don’t know (i.e. 負ける)and you look it up in your dictionary, and your dictionary says ‘it means lose or fail’.  But you already know 3 other Japanese words that mean ‘lose or fail’, (i.e. 失敗、失う、 敗北) so you get aggravated. Why so many words? Do they really mean the same exact thing??!

I think that’s a pretty common experience that people have when reading or learning Japanese. (or English, for that matter!)


so, how does my wiki help you? Well, you’d go to the wiki and type in the word (either the English ‘lose’ or the japanese 負ける) and then you’d be linked to a page that has all the ‘lose’ words together, and explains how they are different – empahsizing  specific situations in which a Japanese person would use one word as opposed to the others:


負ける:まける: lose a game or fight or struggle.

 参った:まいった: (spoken aloud) to say uncle. "no mas!"

 敗北:はいぼく: a loss of a game or war (noun)

 失敗・ any failure! test, your plan fails, no one comes to your party, your business goes bankrupt.

 失う・ to miss out on something (but not because of an opponent). Like you slept too late and missed your TV show.

 不 合格 : unacceptable! (used with schoolwork, but also work reviews, or ‘this workmanship is unacceptable’ or ‘Son your room is not acceptably clean.’

 落第 :らくだい: to fail a test


anyway, a Thesaraus is a textbook about synonyms, but it is designed to group words by HOW THEY ARE SIMILAR.  My wiki is set up to explain how the synonyms are DIFFERENT, so I call it a ‘reverse thesaraus!

link is here.




1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. D June 12th, 2009 12:04 am

    Holy shit, dude. I know this is six months late, but I’ve been wishing for just this kind of thing. Seriously appreciated.

Leave a reply