/arigataku/ → /arigatau/ → /arigatoː/

From ありがたく ‎(arigataku), the adverbial form of Old Japanese and Classical Japanese adjective ありがたし ‎(arigatashi, modern ありがたい, arigatai),[1][2][3] from 有り ‎(ari, the 連用形 ‎(ren'yōkei, continuative or stem form) of verb 有る aru, “to exist, to be”) +‎ 難し ‎(katashi, hard, difficult, 難い katai in modern Japanese).[1][2][3] The katashi changes to gatashi as an instance of rendaku (連濁).

Modern Japanese -i adjectives formerly ended in -ki for the attributive form. This medial /k/ dropped out during the Muromachi period, both for the attributive form (-ki becoming -i) and for the adverbial form (-ku becoming -u). However, the adverbial form reverted back to -ku thereafter for most words, with the -u ending persisting in certain everyday set expressions, such as arigatō, ohayō, or omedetō, and in hyper-formal speech.[4]

Arigatashi is first attested in the oldest literature of the 8th century[5]. Originally meant “difficult to exist, hard to be”[1][2][3], shifting to “rare, special”, and then to “welcome, thankful, nice to have” by some time in the 15th century[3]. This sense is still in use: この天気はありがたいね。‎ ― Kono tenki wa arigatai ne. ― “This weather sure is welcome.”

Any resemblance to Portuguese obrigado ‎(thank you) is purely coincidental. The Portuguese arrived in Japan in 1543, well more than a century after citations expressing gratitude are found.


  • IPA(key): [a̠ɾiɡ̃a̠to̞ː]
  • (Tokyo) IPA(key): [a̠˨ɾi˦g̃a̠˨to̞ː˨˨]
  • (Nagoya) IPA(key): [a̠˨ɾi˦g̃a̠˦to̞ː˨˨]
  • (Osaka) IPA(key): [a̠˨ɾi˨g̃a̠˨to̞ː˦˨]
  • (Kagoshima) IPA(key): [a̠˨ɾi˨g̃a̠˨to̞ː˦˦]
  • (file)

Alternative formsEdit


ありがとう ‎(romaji arigatō, historical hiragana ありがたう)

  1. an expression of thankfulness: thank you

Usage notesEdit

Most often written in hiragana. May occasionally be seen spelled in kanji as 有り難う or 有難う, generally for more formal writing.

The full form is ありがとうございます (​arigatō gozaimasu). May also or alternatively be preceded by intensifier どうも ‎(dōmo, very), 大変 ‎(taihen, very) or 本当に ‎(hontō ni, really). Expressions of thanks are given below in rough order of casual to polite.

It can be preceded by くれて ‎(kurete) to show the action to be thanked.

Coordinate termsEdit


  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 1995, 大辞泉 (Daijisen) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan, ISBN 4-09-501211-0
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, ISBN 4-385-13905-9
  4. ^ “Japanese Adjective Usage ― High Formality”
  5. ^ c. 759, Man'yōshū (book 17, poem 4011); online text at the University of Virginia

External linksEdit