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Other meanings of the name Kenji 2009/2/18 09:52
I know Kenji can mean ''intelligent second son'', and ''strong and vigorous'', but I know there are other combinations.

Can anyone list the possible variations, or point me in the right direction?
by Derek (guest)  

... 2009/2/18 11:10
For a common name like Kenji, the possible combinations are numerous. When you say "point me in the right direction," what do you mean? Do you want to find out what the name of a Japanese celebrity with that name means? (In that case you could tell us who it is.) Do you want to name your child with that name? (In that case, unless you give the name using kanji, meaning in Japan, you cannot ensure that that particular meaning you want would be conveyed.)

From the meanings you've given,
賢二 would be the intelligent second son, and 健 would probably be used as part of the one for "strong and vigorous," but I can't imagine what the "vigorous" would be.
by AK rate this post as useful

meaning 2009/2/18 13:19
I'm fairly naive when it comes to this, so sorry for being vague.

I've heard the name means "intelligent ruler" as well as the other two meanings above, all from various baby name sites.

I know that "kan" and "ji" can each have their own meanings, but what I was wondering if anyone could list out the various meanings of each word, and then give the most common combinations of each?
by OP (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/2/18 13:31
Please don't get confused with the name "Kenji" and the word I am using to refer to the Japanese characters with meanings, "kAnji" first of all :)

Since you seem to be curious - what it is, is that each "kanji" - Japanese (or originally Chinese) character - has a meaning (or two, but each has one essential meaning).

And Japanese given names in many cases use two "kanji" characters. So the name as a whole, in this case "Kenji," carries the meanings of the two kanji that make up the name strung up together. But without the kanji writing, showing the specific individual kanji, "Kenji" as a word in sound does not have any specific meaning.

So depending on how the name "Kenji" is written, or with what kanji the name was given to that person upon birth by the parents, it can mean many different things, according to what the individual kanji mean.

Just to list a few examples,
賢二 - intelligent second (child)
賢次 - intelligent second (child)
健児 - healthy child
建治 - to build and to govern

...etc., etc. There are so many that it's impossible to list all :)
by AK rate this post as useful

doh! 2009/2/18 13:57
sorry... I meant the meanings of "ken" and "ji", not "kanji".


Is there a place I could begin researching the various kanji (and meanings of each) for "ken" and "ji"?

It was my great grandfathers name, which I gave to my son, but we don't know which kanji were used originally, so i was hoping to get a list of some sort and choose or myself.

I suppose "healthy son" would be most appropriate given his remarkable growth since being born 2 months premature!
by derek (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/2/18 14:32
Oh, so that's the background! Isn't there ANY way you can find out your greatgrandfather's name in kanji writing? It would be great now that you've given the name to your son to find out exactly how it was...

In Japanese I've found this website which "claims" that it aims to list up all male names in Japan - but maybe not all anyway - and there I found maybe 30 or so of "Kenji." Let me at least give you the link to the list.


This page lists Japanese boys' names starting with "ke-," not just a list of "Kenji." You see this narrow two-row table? On the left box, if you see
けんじ (Kenji in phonetic writing), that's all Kenji's.

From the bottom of the table (that's easier), count 20 names = those are NOT Kenji. The thirty of so above them are all Kenji.
by AK rate this post as useful

Wow thanks! 2009/2/19 08:07
Thanks very much!

...so now that I have the list of kanji, is there a place I can get them interpreted? :D
by Derek (guest) rate this post as useful

Oh... 2009/2/19 08:18
...and unfortunately, there's no way for me to find out the original kanji for my great grandfather's name, as most of the family documents were lost during my grandma's relocation to Idaho during WWII, and she doesn't remember ever seeing it written out (she's almost 90 now, so there's not much memory left, unfortunately!)
by Derek (guest) rate this post as useful

umm 2009/2/19 08:36
Since names are not like words you can simply look up the meanings of on online dictionary or anywhere that easy, it comes down to someone like me looking up every kanji in those names and stringing them up together... or you'll have to ask a translation company to do that for a fee... the baby name sites, they only cover the several you mentioned?

Too bad you cannot find out the exact kanji for your greatgrandfather's name. Japanese kanji characters have individual meanings, but when Japanese parents give a name to a child, they add their wish into the name, so that they might not match "exactly" the definition given by a dictionary.
by AK rate this post as useful

online dictionary 2009/2/19 08:53
There are some online name dictionaries that work well as long as you understand how they work. This one's a nice interface for some of the online dictionaries:


In the first box pick ''word matching pattern'', in the next select Japanese, then enter ''kenji'' in the final one. Make sure only ''names'' is checked up top. I believe that limits it to the ENAMDICT, an internet dictionary of Japanese names.

You get a lot of results. If you click on each ''kenji'' in the results you'll get the kanji. The letters in parentheses all have meanings. m = male given name, g = given name but the gender hasn't been listed in the dictionary yet, u = unclassified name (could be given or surname), s = surname or family name. Clicking on the letters brings you to a page with all of the definitions.

It's not great for translating from kanji, but for romaji it's pretty good. Don't know how complete it is, but it certainly lists a lot of kenjis.
by Mike321 rate this post as useful

... 2009/2/19 09:53
but AK's point is that there is no way to know which one is the grandfather's name. The name dictionaries can only tell you how a name might be translated. It could be one of those listed or something completely unrelated.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

THanks! 2009/2/19 09:57
I really appreciate the help.

I'm not really trying to track down my great grandfather's exact meaning, I really just want to see as many meanings as I can and then pick the one that I like the best from the options.

by derek (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/2/19 10:08
OK - of the 33 "Kenji" writing that were on the list (link provided earlier), I found out there are 9 kanji used for "ken" and 8 kanji for "ji."
They are all combinations of these... I will come back later with the meanings of the individual kanji :)

Here's the list with only some of the meanings filled in - gotta run to work now :)

For "ken" part:
健 (healthy), 兼(concurrent), 堅 (hard, firm), 建 (build, construct), 憲, 研, 謙 (humble), 賢 (intelligent), 顕 (obvious, conspicuous)

For "ji" part:
史 志 児 二 之 司 次 治
by AK rate this post as useful

Thanks! 2009/2/19 14:17
Thanks so much AK! Looking forward to the "ji" translations :D
by derek (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/2/19 22:34
Here's the list with the meanings:

For "ken" part:
健 (healthy, sound), 兼(concurrent), 堅 (hard, firm), 建 (build, construct), 憲 (rules, code, model), 研 (polish, enhance, research; pursue logic of things), 謙 (humble), 賢 (intelligent, wise), 顕 (obvious, conspicuous)

For "ji" part:
史 (historian, scribe of events), 志 (ambition, aspiration), 児 (child), 二 (two, second), 之 (helping word - not much meaning, but often used with male names), 司 (govern, to take on a role, administer), 次 (next, subsequent; often used to refer to second son), 治 (to rule, to govern)

Note that some of the kanjis for "ji" are not really used for their meanings but just to form names.

I've just gone through my kanji dictionary to check the meanings, but at times one word or two is not enough to convey all the nuances; if you find one that you like, please post again to check the fine nuances. Please don't forget that while everyone here tries to be helpful here, it's still an anonymous forum :)
by AK rate this post as useful

be careful with the English name sites 2009/2/20 08:51
When you see Japanese names on those English baby name sites, take the name suggestions and the meanings they give with a grain of salt. I have seen the most ridiculous Japanese "names" there (i.e. they are Japanese words but not used as names in Japan, and would make a child a laughing stock if they were ever to come here), or names where the meaning is quite wrong.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

OK so is this right? 2009/2/20 09:37
健次 - So, this would mean ''healthy second child'', correct?

I have a firstborn daughter (Kaiya) and Kenji is the second born. I've seen on baby name sites where they have the meaning "second son"... would it be appropriate to use the above for the second child, even if he's not the second male?

Thanks to all of you for your help!!!

On a secondary note, can anyone confirm that Kaiya means ''forgiveness'' in Japanese?
by Derek (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/2/20 15:41
This kanji "次" is often used in a word like 次女 (made of a kanji for "next/second" and one for "girl/female," pronounced ji-jo, meaning "second daughter" where you already have an elder *girl*) and 次男 (made of a kanji meaning "next/second" and another meaning "boy/male," pronounced ji-nan, meaning "second son" where you have an elder *boy*). We would not use the term "ji-nan" to refer to a boy born after a girl. Your family would be described as having a first daughter and a first son. If you have another boy, he would be the "second son." ....I hope this makes sense :)

So if you want to pick the kanji strictly by the meaning, the one meaning "child," 児, might be the better choice for the sound "ji," because then it means "healthy/sound child."

But if that's the one you prefer, no problen either. I wonder what other Japanese on this site think :)
by AK rate this post as useful

Perfect.... 2009/2/21 00:10
No, that makes perfect sense, and that was exactly what I wanted to know. The "second" was not really important to me :D

So here are the kanji I'm thinking about:

1. 健児 - healthy child
2. 賢志 - wise/intelligent and 3. ambitious
3. 賢治 - wise ruler


4. 研志, which was "enhance, polish, pursue logic of things" and ambitious/aspiration.

Could you tell me if the first three are appropriate/correct, and possibly tell me more about what the first kanji of the fourth set means?

Thanks again!!!
by Derek (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/2/21 18:32
Yes, the first three sound fine :)

For the last one,
4. 研志, which was "enhance, polish, pursue logic of things" and ambitious/aspiration.

Actually this combination (of the two kanji) does not appear on that list, which claims it aims to list all possible names in Japan. I took apart all combinations so you would not have known if this combination exists or not. Which does not mean that you cannot use it, but the pair looks somewhat odd together, I don't know how to put it, but some kanji go together (simply by the looks) and others don't sit well...

About 研, the first kanji in 4. you have, it has a few meaning; one is to polish, as in sanding or polishing stone or wood materials, which also takes on the additional meaning of to enhance, to polish something up to a better condition (not just physically but enhancing your skills, etc.) Then the other meaning, which is also related, is to pursue (the truth), do research.

On the name list link I gave you, the ones using this kanji are: 研児, 研治, and 研二.
by AK rate this post as useful

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