Glyph origin Edit
) – a horse with its head facing the left, showing a flowing mane in the wind. In the bronze inscriptions, the head was often simplified into an eye ( 象形 ). The legs eventually evolved into four dots ( 目 , unrelated to 灬 ).
(“deer”), which saw a very different development, and 鹿 (as in 𢊁 ), which is a hybrid: it has the legs of 薦 馬 ( ) but the head of 灬 .
“Horse” – from
Proto-Sino-Tibetan . The sense of “big” is derived from “horse”; compare the English uses of *k-m-raŋ ~ s-raŋ .
For the insect prefix sense, see
. It has converged with the sense of “big”.
The surname is popularly known to be prevalent among
Hui Muslims, where it is likely derived from Arabic مُحَمَّد ( muḥammad, “ Muhammad ” ).
horse ( Classifier: 匹 ; m ／ 隻 只 m ) c
( chess ) knight
( xiangqi ) knight; horse (on the black side)
Original form of ／ 碼 ( 码 , “chip for counting”). mǎ
big ( prefix for nouns )
/ 馬勺 ― 马勺 ― ladle ( mǎsháo big spoon)
( Southwestern Mandarin , including Sichuanese ) to bully
( Sichuanese ) to keep a straight face
Prefix for names of insects, also written as . 螞
Short for ／ 馬祖 ( 马祖 ). Mǎzǔ
Short for ／ 馬來西亞 ( 马来西亚 ). Mǎláixīyà
A , particularly common among surname Hui Muslims
/ 馬 英 九 ― 马 英 九 ― Mǎ Yīngjiǔ (President of the Republic of China (Taiwan), 2008-2016) Ma Ying-jeou ( ～ 村 ) (a village in Ma , Dongsong , Luoning , Luoyang , Henan ) China
Dialectal synonyms of
Coordinate terms Edit
→ Japanese: 馬 ( ば ) ( ba )
→ Korean: ( 마 , 馬 ma) → Vietnamese: mã ( , 馬 “ ( xiangqi ) horse; ( chess ) knight ” )
→ Tai: *maːᶜ ( “ horse ” ) Northern Tai Southwestern Tai: Ahom: 𑜉𑜠 ( ma ) , 𑜉𑜡 ( maa ), 𑜉𑜡𑜠 ( maaa ) Thai: ม้า ( máa ) Northern Thai: ᨾ᩶ᩣ Lao: ມ້າ ( mā ) Lü: ᦙᦱᧉ ( maa 2 ) Shan: မႃႉ ( mâ̰a ) Tai Nüa: ᥛᥣᥳ ( mȧa ) → Thai: เบ๊ ( bée, “ horse ” ) ( via Teochew )
Stroke order (Japan)
grade 2 “Kyōiku” kanji
Etymology 1 Edit
): a pair of
. Old Japanese Recorded in the  Nihon Shoki of 720 as having been brought over from the Korean peninsula kingdom of C.E. Baekje, with the earlier reading of ma. The initial m sound was apparently emphasized,  possibly similar to  *mma, becoming then uma or muma, via processes also seen in the word 梅 ( ume, mume, “ plum ” ). However, Pellard simply reconstructs Proto-Japonic and treats the mentioned processes as secondary. *uma 
ma sound denoting "horse" is common to a number of languages of central Asia, where horses were first domesticated, suggesting a possible cognate root. Compare Manchu ᠮᠣᡵᡳᠨ ( morin, “ horse ” ), Mongolian морь ( morʹ, “ horse ” ), Korean 말 ( mal, “ horse ” ), Mandarin 馬 ( mǎ, “ horse ” ), and Proto-Indo-European *márkos ( “ horse ” ) and descendants such as Irish marc ( “ horse ”, archaic ) or English mare ( “ female horse ” ). More at .
馬 ( うま ) • ( ) uma ( counter )
( shogi ) a promoted bishop a sawhorse: a four-leg stand made of wood or iron for supporting other materials
Usage notes Edit
As with many terms that name organisms, this term is often spelled in
, especially in katakana contexts, as biological .
Etymology 2 Edit
uma form, becoming more common starting from the Heian Period. This change later reverted, and  muma is now considered obsolete.
馬 ( むま ) • ( ) muma
( obsolete ) a horse
c. 759, (book 20, poem 4372)
Man'yōshū 阿志加良能 美佐可多麻波理 可閇理美須 阿例波久江由久 阿良志乎母 多志夜波婆可流 不破乃世伎 久江弖和波由久 牟麻能都米 都久志能佐伎尓 知麻利為弖 阿例波伊波々牟 母呂々々波 佐祁久等麻乎須 可閇利久麻弖尓 (please add an English translation of this quote) c.
935 Tosa Nikki
ふぢはらのときざね、ふなぢなれど、 むまのはなむけす。 (please add an English translation of this quote) c. 935 Tosa Nikki
けふはあを むまをおもへど、かひなし。 (please add an English translation of this quote)
Etymology 3 Edit
Middle Chinese ( 馬 ). The MC mˠa X 漢音 ( kan'on ), so a later borrowing. Compare Min Nan 馬 ( bé, bée, má ) where some of the readings show a shift from initial nasal /m-/ to voiced plosive /b-/.
馬 ( ば ) • ( ) ba
競 ( けい ) 馬 ( ば ) kei ba horse racing
↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2
1988, (in Japanese), 国語大辞典（新装版） (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) Tōkyō: Shogakukan
↑ 2.0 2.1
2006, , Third Edition (in Japanese), 大辞林 ( ) Daijirin Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
^ Pellard, Thomas, “Ryukyuan perspectives on the proto-Japonic vowel system”, in Frellesvig, Bjarke; Sells, Peter, editors,
Japanese/Korean Linguistics , issue 20, CSLI Publications, 2013, page 85 
1998, (in Japanese), NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典 ( ) NHK Japanese Pronunciation Accent Dictionary Tōkyō: NHK, →ISBN