n1

2

982/2000

JLPT: N1

School Grade: 6th (11 years old)

An earlier form of this character shows that it is a combination of 九 a person bending (not 九 nine, though it can be useful to remember it that way), 木 tree and 氵 water. Here 木 means a “shrub” or “plant.” Therefore, 染 depicts a person bending to soak a plant in water, a reference to “dyeing” using the indigo plant or something similar. This led to “dye” and “soak,” with the other meanings like “permeate” being extended meanings.

2

981/2000

JLPT: N1

School Grade: Junior high school

This character is a combination of 禾 rice plant and 乃 which derived from the image of a bending person, but is deliberately exaggerated to emphasize bending. Together with 禾 this gives “rice plant bent,” indicating an “excellent plant/crop,” and therefore “excel/excellent” in a more general sense.

2

980/2000

JLPT: N1

School Grade: Junior high school

This character was formerly written as a combination of 犭dog and a variant of the prototype of 皇 emperor, which depicted a crown on top of 王 king. In the modern form, only 王 has been retained. Here 王 is a phonetic element expressing “convulsion.” 狂 originally referred to a “convulsing dog,” or a “mad dog.” Over time it came to mean “mad” in general.

2

978/2000

JLPT: N1

School Grade: Junior high school

This character is a combination of 工 carpenter’s square and 攵 strike. Here 工 is a phonetic element expressing “strike/beat,” while also possibly lending connotations of an implement resembling a weapon. Together with 攵 this gives “strike and beat,” which led to “attack.”