Etymology 1Edit

For pronunciation and definitions of さん – see the following entries.
[numeral] three, 3
[numeral] third
[suffix] Mount, Mt.
[suffix] suffix for names of mountains
[suffix] suffix for a temple's honorific mountain name
[noun] a calling, coming
[noun] (Zen Buddhism) a gathering of Zen members in meditation, preaching, and invocation
[affix] check, verify
[affix] add, increase, join (a group, etc.)
[affix] go (for a specific purpose, for example)
[affix] Short for 参議院 (Sangiin): the House of Councillors (upper house of the Diet)
[proper noun] (Chinese astronomy, rare) the Three Stars constellation, one of the Twenty-Eight Mansions
[proper noun] a surname
[numeral] (law) Financial form of (san): 3, three
[affix] Alternative spelling of (san): 3, three
[affix] Short for 三河 (Mikawa-no-kuni): Mikawa Province
[noun] production, giving birth
[noun] delivery
[noun] assets
[noun] sourness (quality or condition)
[noun] (chemistry) acid
[noun] praise, tribute
[noun] inscription on picture
[noun] eating and drinking
(This term, さん, is an alternative spelling of the above Sino-Japanese terms.
For a list of all kanji read as さん, not just those used in Japanese terms, see Category:Japanese kanji read as さん.)

Etymology 2Edit

Derived from (さま) (sama).


さん (-san

  1. A title used after person's name (first name or surname) regardless of sex; Mr, Ms, Mrs, Miss. Also used after a job title and a company name.
    • 山田(やまだ)さん
      Mr/Ms. Yamada
    • あきらさん
    • 山田(やまだ)あきらさん
      Yamada Akira-san
      Mr/Ms. Akira Yamada
    • 店員(てんいん)さん
      Sir/Madam (lit. "Mr/Ms. shop clerk"; used when talking to a shop clerk.)
    • 運転手(うんてんしゅ)さん
      Sir/Madam (lit. "Mr/Ms. driver"; used when talking to a taxi/bus driver.)
    • ソニーさん
      Sir/Madam (used in business by people meeting Sony.)
  2. (colloquial) Used after a shop name.
    • 学校(がっこう)(まえ)床屋(とこや)さんがある。
      Gakkō no mae ni tokoya-san ga aru.
      In front of school, there’s a barber’s.

Usage notesEdit

  • (さま) (sama) is used in more formal situations, like sir.
    • More familiarly, one uses (くん) (kun), especially of men, or ちゃん (chan), especially of young women and children.
  • Referring to acquaintances without using a suffix is conisidered rude, and is called ()() (yobisute).
  • When used after a job name which refers to either the shop or the master depending on the context, it does not restrict animacy. For example, when referring to 床屋(とこや) (tokoya) (the barber shop or the hairdresser), both 床屋さんが一ある (inanimate ある (aru)) and 床屋さん一人いる (animate いる (iru)) are correct.

See alsoEdit


Etymology 1Edit


さん (romaji san)

  1. : mountain

Etymology 2Edit

Generally held to be a combination of an adjective nominalizer suffix cognate to Japanese (-sa) and the verb 有ん (an, to be, exist, have).


さん (romaji -san)

  1. Terminal-form ending for inflected adjectives.
    It is white.