月 - Meaning and history | Japanese Kanji

JLPT N54 strokes
monthmoon

Kun readings 🇯🇵

つき

On readings 🇨🇳

げつがつ

The pictogram originally represented the quarter moon and then changed over time until it took the form we know (つき).

lunamoon
This image shows the origin of the kanji 月, from the quarter moon

月 in the months of the year

The meaning of many kanji like this is interesting and profound as they also develop the characteristics of the object or phenomenon they represent in their meaning.

(つき) also takes on the meaning of month, referring to the motor of revolution of the Moon around the Earth.

(つき) thus appears in all months of the year with its on reading.

Generally when two kanji join to form a word they are read according to the on reading of Chinese origin.
  • (がつ) - January
  • (がつ) - February
  • (がつ) - March
  • (がつ) - April
  • (がつ) - May
  • (がつ) - June
  • (がつ) - July
  • (がつ) - August
  • (がつ) - September
  • 10 (がつ) - October
  • 11 (がつ) - November
  • 12 (がつ) - December

(がっ)(), the moon next to the sun, indicates the day and month on a date and it is read as がっぴ (gappi).

If we want to indicate the date of birth, we say (せい)(ねん)(がっ)() (seinengappi):

  • ()きる kanji of birth and to be born, to have origin, to come to light
  • (と し) year
  • (つき) month
  • () day

Characteristic meanings of 月

(げつ)(こう), the moon placed near the light, becomes the moonlight, like Ludwig van Beethoven's famous sonata.

'The Moonlight', famous sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven

(つき) as a radical also takes on the meaning of flesh and appears in many terms that indicate the anatomical parts of the organism:

  • (か ん)(ぞう) - The liver
  • (はい) - The lungs
  • (うで) - The arms
  • () - The back
お正月
New Year, お正月
(しょう)(がつ)
(さい)()
(ぎょう)()
だと
されています。

New Year's Eve is considered the oldest holiday.

Words that contain the kanji 月

  • (げつ)(かん) gekkan monthly publication
  • (げつ)(かん) gekkan monthly, period of a month
  • (げつ)(きゅう) gekkyuu monthly salary
  • (しん)(げつ) shingetsu the New Moon
  • (まん)(げつ) mangetsu the Full Moon
lunarcalendar
Lunar calendar

(げっ)(けい) gekkei the menstrual cycle. It is interesting to note that the word contains the Moon element, which with its motion around the Earth and the various phases constitutes a cyclical process.

(げっ)(しょう) is the monthly turnover as shown in the publication below. Rakuten, a well-known Japanese group, in 3 steps starts from a monthly turnover of 1 million yen, aims to reach 10 million yen.

Do you know Japanese udon? A type of Japanese pasta, similar to spaghetti, but thicker, more consistent and also more elastic. Among the various dishes based on udon, we have (つき)()うどん, udon to admire the moon which in the dish is symbolically represented by the egg yolk.

月見うどん
Typical dish of 和食, Japanese cuisine: tsukimi udon 月見うどん

Example of kunyomi readings 🇯🇵

つき

This reading is the standard for the meaning moon (つき). This reading then refers to things related to moon and also month.

Example of onyomi readings 🇨🇳

げつ

This reading is used in compound words related to month: this month, last month, every month.

This is also the reading for Monday: (げつ)(よう)().

がつ

This reading is used for the names of the months of the year, and it derives from the**"Month(s) of the lunar calendar"**:

  • (がつ): January
  • (がつ): February
  • (がつ): March
  • (がつ): April
  • (がつ): May
  • (がつ): June
  • (がつ): July
  • (がつ): August
  • (がつ): September
  • 10(がつ): October
  • 11(がつ): November
  • 12(がつ): December

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