Definitions for ateji
This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word ateji
The use of kanji chosen primarily for their phonetic or semantic value to represent foreign or native Japanese words, or the kanji so used.
In modern Japanese, ateji primarily refers to kanji used phonetically to represent native or borrowed words, without regard to the meaning of the underlying characters. This is analogous to man'yōgana in pre-modern Japanese. The term ateji is also used for the opposite process, writing words using kanji for meaning only, without regard to the reading. For example, the word sushi is often written with the ateji 寿司. Though the two characters are respectively read as su and shi, the character 寿 means "one's natural life span" and 司 means "to administer", neither of which has anything to do with the food. Ateji as a means of representing loanwords have been largely superseded in modern Japanese by the use of katakana, although many ateji coined in earlier eras still linger on. An example of the opposite process is 煙草 for "tobacco", where the individual kanji respectively mean "smoke" and "herb" but have no phonetic relationship to the word tabako. This is also considered a kind of ateji.
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