Components

Point of interest: 刺す(さす)

POI
刺す(さす) - biting or stinging?
Tweet
210 words
In English, we distinguish between insects that 'bite' and insects that 'sting'. Although some people may mix up the two, technically, a venomous (
どくどく
毒々
しい) insect (
むし
) such as a wasp, yellow jacket or bee uses a stinger to inject toxic venom, whereas a non-venomous insect such as a mosquito (
) or a flea (ノミ) bites and then injects saliva to prevent coagulation of the blood. It is interesting that in general a venomous sting might be more painful in the short term, but is typically less dangerous, because venom doesn't carry the diseases that mosquitoes or fleas can carry!
In Japanese, the distinction is not so clear cut - in some cases, insects
す - which literally means 'pierce', and hence is multi-purpose. You can translate it as 'bite' or 'sting' depending on what is doing the biting or stinging! In other cases, insects
む (bite). Here's a quick summary of which insects do which:
wasps, bees, mosquitoes
ants, mites, flies
す or
gnats (ブヨ)
Another interesting insect-related point is that in Japanese, both wasps and bees are translated as はち, despite being entirely different and unrelated species! However, in practice, there is a world of difference between a
みつばち
蜜蜂
(honeybee) and a スズメバチ (giant 'murder' hornet) ...

Kanji used in this point of interest

ドク    poison   
Please LOG IN to view this kanji's mnemonic
(kanji repetition symbol)   
チュウ   むし insect   
Please LOG IN to view this kanji's mnemonic
mosquito   
Please LOG IN to view this kanji's mnemonic
シ   さ to stab   ささる to prick   
Please LOG IN to view this kanji's mnemonic
to bite   かじる to chew; to dabble   
Please LOG IN to view this kanji's mnemonic
ミツ    honey   
Please LOG IN to view this kanji's mnemonic
ホウ   はち bee, wasp, hornet   
Please LOG IN to view this kanji's mnemonic
Problem with this point of interest? Question or comment? Please CONTACT US.
Kanshudo is your AI Japanese tutor, and your constant companion on the road to mastery of the Japanese language. To get started learning Japanese, just follow the study recommendations on your Dashboard. You can use Quick search (accessible using the icon at the top of every page) to look up any Japanese word, kanji or grammar point, as well as to find anything on Kanshudo quickly. For an overview, take the tour.
×