- the portion of the Japanese writing system that is a syllabary
- pl. -·na any of the characters in this syllabary
Origin of kanaJapanese
nounpl. kana or ka·nas
- Japanese syllabic writing. The characters are simplified kanji and are usually used with kanji primarily to write inflections, particles, and function words and to show the pronunciations of some kanji and of all foreign words.
- Any of the characters used in this system.
Origin of kanaJapanese, from Old Japanese kanna, kana, contraction of karina (literally, provisional letter, as opposed to kanji which were considered to be Chinese characters in their true use) : kari-, provisional, not according to rule + na, name, letter.
OriginSee also: kanā
From Japanese 仮名 (kana, “syllabary”).