Surprising Etymology of the Day

Maybe I’m the last Japanese student on earth to discover that, but learning the Japanese etymology of the English word “tycoon” today felt like a mini-epiphany.

It was both rather unexpected and yet blindingly obvious in retrospect: 大君 [‘taikun’] was the title used by the Shogun in his relations with foreign dignitaries.

As a funny sidenote: 「君」[‘kun’], which I believe used to be a term of honour (“Master” etc.) is nowadays mostly used in Japanese to address young schoolboys (come to think of it, exactly as the English word ‘master’). Which would make the literal meaning of 大君 to be “Big boy”… Not quite the most imposing title you could find.

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