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Etymology 1Edit

On'yomi terms.


よう (rōmaji )

  1. : business, engagement
  2. : young; young children
  3. : ocean
  4. : cornerstone; requirement
  5. : wooden figure buried with the dead
  6. : way, style, appearance
  7. : leaf, needle, blade (of a plant)
  8. : yang, sun, light
  9. : carbuncle


よう (rōmaji -yō)

  1. : (rare) counter for flat, thin things such as leaves or paper; (by extension) counter for small boats


よう (-na inflection, rōmaji )

  1. : be like, look like, seem like, as if, having the likeness of

Etymology 2Edit


よう (godan conjugation, rōmaji you)

  1. 酔う: to get drunk

Etymology 3Edit

/mu//ũ//u/ → (for Group II (ichidan) and Group III (irregular) verbs) /joː/

The volitional verb suffix was originally (mu, /mu/). This regularly shifted to a nasalized /ũ/, which then lost its nasalization and was reinterpreted as regular (u, /u/) by roughly the Kamakura period (1185–1333).[1][2][3]

This suffix grammatically attached to the 未然形 (mizenkei, irrealis or incomplete form) of the verb. Regular sound changes then gave rise to the modern よう (, /joː/) ending, initially via fusion of the vowel sounds, and then by a reanalysis of the resulting fused -yō as the suffix to be added to the mizenkei stem. This reformulation as verb stem + suffix -yō started in the late Muromachi period (1336–1573) and continued through the Edo period in 1603–1868).[1][2][3]

  • 上一段活用 (kami ichidan, upper monograde) verbs with mizenkei stems ending in -i:
見む (mimu, /mimu/)見う (miu, /miu/)見う (myō, /mjoː/)見よう (miyō, /mijoː/)
  • 下一段活用 (shimo ichidan, lower monograde) verbs with mizenkei stems ending in -e:
上げむ (agemu, /aɡemu/)上げう (ageu, /aɡeu/)上げう (agyō, /aɡjoː/)上げよう (ageyō, /aɡejoː/)
  • The irregular verb する (suru) underwent further changes. The classical mizenkei stem ended in -e, and (se) in classical Japanese was pronounced more as she. Around the same time that the fused shō was separating again into a verb stem + suffix, the mizenkei stem shifted to end in i:
せむ (shemu, /ɕemu/)せう (sheu, /ɕeu/)せう (shō, /ɕoː/)しよう (shiyō, /ɕijoː/)
  • The irregular verb 来る (kuru) has a mizenkei stem ending in -o. This stem includes no front-vowel sound like /e/ or /i/ that might produce the palatal glide in /joː/, and here, the final -yō arose as a parallel construction with the above verb paradigms:
来む (komu, /komu/)来う (kou, /kou/)来う (, /koː/)来よう (koyō, /kojoː/)

Meanwhile, for regular classical 四段活用 (yodan katsuyō, quadrigrade conjugation) verbs, the mizenkei stem ends in -a. This ultimately fused with the -u suffix form to produce , resulting in the modern regular 五段活用 (godan katsuyō, quintigrade conjugation).

行かむ (ikamu, /ikamu/)行かう (ikau, /ikau/)行かう (ikau, /ikɔː/)行こう (ikō, /ikoː/)



よう (rōmaji -yō)

  1. (jodōshi) Used to make the volitional form of verbs.
    1. Expressing one's will to do something.
      そろそろ ()よう
      Sorosoro ne.
      I go to bed before long.
      Sō shi.
      I will do so.
       () ()しいものを ()よう (おも)っています。
      Oishī mono o tabe to omotte imasu.
      I'm thinking about eating something delicious.
       ()かけようとした (とき)電話 (でんわ)がかかってきた。
      Dekake to shita toki, denwa ga kakatte kita.
      I got a phone call when I was about to go out.
    2. Inducing or stimulating other person to do something.
      さあ、 (はじ)よう
      Sā, hajime.
      Let's get started.
    3. (archaic) Presenting a supposition.
      Synonyms: だろう (darō), でしょう (deshō)
Usage notesEdit

Attaches only to the 未然形 (mizenkei, irrealis or incomplete form) of Group II (ichidan) and Group III (irregular) verbs.

The volitional form of Group I (godan) verbs are formed with (-u) instead of よう (-yō), with further sound changes.

In traditional Japanese grammar, this is a 助動詞 (jodōshi, auxiliary verb), with the sole form よう () as the 終止形 (shūshikei, terminal form) and the 連体形 (rentaikei, adnominal form).

See alsoEdit

Etymology 4Edit



よう (rōmaji )

  1. A very informal greeting similar to yo.
    よう (げん) ()
    , genki?
    Yo! Howdy?
  2. A very informal (rude) interjection similar to hey.
    よう ()てよ。
    , mateyo.
    Hey, wait.
Usage notesEdit

Women or gentlemen generally use ねえ () instead of よう (). よう () is masculine but gives a rude impression at times; ねえ () is more graceful.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  2. 2.0 2.1 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
  3. 3.0 3.1 1995, 大辞泉 (Daijisen) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan, →ISBN