Japanese

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Etymology 1

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For pronunciation and definitions of さん – see the following entries.
1
[numeral] three, 3
[numeral] third
サン1
[numeral] three
1
[suffix] Mount, Mt.
[suffix] suffix for names of mountains
[suffix] suffix for a temple's honorific mountain name (山号 (sangō))
[affix] mountain
[affix] mine
[affix] temple, temple ground
[affix] Short for 比叡山 (Hieizan): Mount Hiei
4
[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
4
[noun] production, giving birth
[noun] delivery
[noun] assets
5
[noun] sourness (quality or condition)
[noun] (chemistry) acid
5
[noun] praise, tribute
[noun] inscription on picture
H
[noun] eating and drinking
(This term, さん, is the hiragana spelling of the above terms.)
For a list of all kanji read as さん, see Category:Japanese kanji read as さん.)

Etymology 2

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Derived from (さま) (sama).

Suffix

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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.
    Synonym: (honorific) さま (sama)
    (やま)()さんYamada-sanMr/Ms. Yamada
    あきらさんAkira-sanAkira
    (やま)()あきらさんYamada Akira-sanMr/Ms. Akira Yamada
    (てん)(いん)さんten'in-sanSir/Madam (lit. "Mr/Ms. shop clerk"; used when talking to a shop clerk.)
    (うん)(てん)(しゅ)さんuntenshu-sanSir/Madam (lit. "Mr/Ms. driver"; used when talking to a taxi/bus driver.)
    ソニーさんSonī-sanSir/Madam (used in business by people meeting Sony.)
  2. (colloquial) Used after a shop name.
    (がっ)(こう)(まえ)(とこ)()さんある
    Gakkō no mae ni tokoya-san ga aru.
    In front of school, there’s a barber’s.
  3. (polite) attaching to nouns or other nominals: a politeness marker that often has no direct translation, replacing copula です (​desu)
    Synonym: (honorific) さま (sama)
    ありがとう-さんarigatō-san(polite, uncommon) thank you
Usage notes
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  • (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 considered 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 (とこ)() (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.
Descendants
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  • English: -san
  • Chinese:
    Mandarin: (sāng)
  • Korean: (sang)

See also

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Okinawan

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Etymology 1

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Noun

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さん (san

  1. : mountain

Etymology 2

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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).

Suffix

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さん (-san

  1. Terminal-form ending for inflected adjectives.
    (しる)さん
    shirusan
    It is white.