Japanese

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Etymology 1

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Kanji in this term
まえ
Grade: 2
kun’yomi
Alternative spelling
御前

From () (o, honorific prefix) + (まえ) (mae, front), literally "honourable presence in front of me". Originally a polite pronoun applied to highly respected persons such as emperors or gods.[1][2]

First attested in the early 900s.[1]

Alternative forms

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Pronunciation

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Pronoun

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(まえ) (omaeおまへ (omafe)?

  1. [from early 900s] (informal, men's speech; or dialect) you
    • 1915, Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, 羅生門 [Rashōmon]:
      (おれ)()()()使()(ちやう)(やく)(にん)などではない。(いま)(がた)この(もん)(した)(とほ)りかゝつた(たび)(もの)だ。だから(まえ)(なわ)をかけて、どうしようと()ふやうな(こと)はない。
      Ore wa kebiishi no chō no yakunin nado de wa nai. Imashigata kono mon no shita o tōrikakatta tabi no mono da. Dakara omae ni nawa o kakete, dō shiyō to iu yō na koto wa nai.
      I am not an official of law enforcement, but simply a traveller who's happened to come across this gate a few moments ago. I'm not here to bind you in ropes or any nonsense of the sort.
Usage notes
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  • Slightly condescending if used by a higher status peer to refer to a lower status peer, very informal between close equal-status peers; (very) impolite in other situations.
  • In many Japanese dialects, it is rather the standard 2nd-person pronoun, equivalent in usage to standard Japanese あなた (anata).
Derived terms
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Etymology 2

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Kanji in this term
めえ
Grade: 2
irregular

/omae//omeː/

Corruption of (まえ) (omae). First attested in 1777.[1]

Pronunciation

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Pronoun

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(めえ) or () (omē or ome

  1. [from 1777] (dialectal, Edo, Tōhoku) you (standard second-person pronoun)

References

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Shōgaku Tosho (1988) 国語大辞典(新装版) [Unabridged Dictionary of Japanese (Revised Edition)] (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan, →ISBN
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Matsumura, Akira, editor (2006), 大辞林 [Daijirin] (in Japanese), Third edition, Tokyo: Sanseidō, →ISBN