(common “Jōyō” kanji, shinjitai kanji, kyūjitai form 螢)
From Old Japanese. Appears in the Man'yōshú, compiled some time after 759 CE. Ultimate derivation unknown.
- The initial ho element is almost certainly the ancient form of 火 (hi, “fire”), which appears as ho in compounds such as 炎 (honō, “flame”, originally from ho no ho) or 火屋 (hoya, “lamp chimney”).
- Various theories exist regarding the taru portion. This may be from classical verb 垂る (taru, “to hang down, to droop”, in reference to a firefly's posterior; modern form 垂れる (tareru)), or a vowel shift from verb 照る (teru, “to shine”).
蛍 (shinjitai kanji, kyūjitai kanji 螢, hiragana ほたる, katakana ホタル, rōmaji hotaru)
- a firefly
- Hotaru no Haka
- Grave of the Fireflies
1991 July 15, Adachi, Mitsuru, “魔法の粉の巻 [Magical Powder]”, in 虹色とうがらし [Rainbow-Colored Chilis], volume 4 (fiction, in Japanese), Tokyo: Shogakukan, ISBN 4-09-122464-4, page 30:
- Wa—— Kirei! Tsukamaete, Keshi-nī-chan.
- Wow—— So beautiful! Catch them for me, Keshi-nī-chan.
- Shitteru ka, hotarutte no wa mushi da zo.
- Did you not know fireflies were insects too?
- Wa—— Kirei.
- Wow—— So beautiful.
- Katte na yatsu da.
- She’s pretty self-serving, I must say.
From Middle Chinese 螢 (/ɦweŋ/, “firefly”).
蛍 (hiragana けい, rōmaji kei)
- used in various compounds to refer to fluorescence
蛍 (hiragana けい, rōmaji Kei)
- A male or female given name
蛍 • (hyeong) (hangeul 형, revised hyeong, McCune-Reischauer hyŏng, Yale hyeng)
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