Cool Kanji – 弄

moteasobu

King on top and some little thingy on the bottom. It has the curious pronunciation もてあそぶ (弄ぶ), which helped me figure out the basic meaning from context when I first read it; あそぶ means “play with,” and the context of the sentence made it clear that this is meant “toy with” in a kind of cruel, whimsical way. Yahoo definitions 3 and 4 confirm this, and definition 1 confirms that the origin must be something literal like 持って遊ぶ. The compound 翻弄 (ほんろう) has a similar meaning and usage, so keep an eye out for that, too.

Easy enough to remember the meaning from the pronunciation, and the kanji isn’t that hard either – the king toys with his servants like marionettes. (I wouldn’t recommend trying to incorporate this into your daily vocab. I get the sense that the usage is kind of limited. Good to know, though.)

2 thoughts on “Cool Kanji – 弄

  1. My dictionary also has:

    「俳句をもてあそぶ」
    amuse oneself by composing haiku / compose haiku as a pastime

    Which from now on I will endeavour to include in my daily conversations…