What They Mean

It is often amusing to figure out what the individual kanji in a country's name mean. While it is important to note that these names are compounds and thus do not necessarily literally mean what each kanji would mean in isolation (indeed many were chosen merely for their phonetic sound), it is nevertheless interesting to think about what meanings these kanji may suggest to the Japanese mind.

Australia: 豪州 = "powerful state"

Austria 墺太利 = "land of vast profit"

Belgium: 白耳義 = "white ear righteousness"

Brazil: 伯剌西爾 = "you biased western chieftan"

Chile: 智利 = "wisdom profit"

China: 中国 = "middle country"

Denmark: 丁抹 = "painted street"

England: 英吉利 = "glorious lucky profit"

Egypt: 埃及 = "come to dust"

Finland: 芬蘭 = "perfume orchid"

France: 仏国 = "Buddha country"

Germany: 独国 = "alone country"

Greece: 希国 = "begging country"

Holland: 蘭国 = "orchid country"

India: 印国 = "symbol country"

Italy: 伊太利 = "that fat profit"

Ireland: 愛蘭 = "love orchid"

Korea: 朝鮮 = "vivid morning"

Malaysia: 馬来西亜 = "horse come west Asia"

Mexico: 墨国 = "black ink country"

Mongolia: 蒙古 = "ancient ignorance"

Peru: 秘露 = "secret tears"

Portugal 葡国 = "wild grapes country"

Russia: 露国 = "tears country"

Spain: 西班牙 = "west group fang"

Thailand: 泰 = "peaceful"

United States: 米国 = "rice country"

Vietnam: 越南 = "surpassing south"