[ juh-pan ]
See synonyms for japan on Thesaurus.com
  1. any of various hard, durable, black varnishes, originally from Japan, for coating wood, metal, or other surfaces.

  2. work varnished and figured in the Japanese manner.

  1. Japans, a variety of decorative motifs or patterns derived from Asian sources, used on English porcelain of the 18th and 19th centuries.

  1. of or relating to japan.

verb (used with object),ja·panned, ja·pan·ning.
  1. to varnish with japan; lacquer.

  2. to coat with any material that gives a hard, black gloss.

Origin of japan

First recorded in 1605–15; special use of Japan

Other words from japan

  • ja·pan·ner, noun
  • un·ja·panned, adjective

Other definitions for Japan (2 of 3)

[ juh-pan ]

  1. Japanese Nihon, Nippon. a constitutional monarchy on a chain of islands off the eastern coast of Asia: main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. 141,529 sq. mi. (366,560 sq. km). Capital: Tokyo.

  2. Sea of Ja·pan, a marginal sea bounded by North Korea, the Far Eastern mainland of Russia, the Russian island Sakhalin, Japan, and South Korea: largely enclosed from the Pacific Ocean and seldom affected by tides.: See also East Sea, Korean East Sea.

Origin of Japan

First recorded in 1570–80 as Giapan; from Malay Jăpung, Japang, from Middle Chinese; see origin at Nippon

Other definitions for Japan. (3 of 3)


  1. Japanese.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use japan in a sentence

  • I shipped for a voyage to japan and China, and spent several more years trying to penetrate the forbidden fastnesses of Tibet.

    The Boarded-Up House | Augusta Huiell Seaman
  • Fujiyama, the noted volcano of japan, is twelve thousand three hundred and sixty-five feet high.

    Assimilative Memory | Marcus Dwight Larrowe (AKA Prof. A. Loisette)
  • The embassy for japan—with a gift, which shall not seem an acknowledgment—you say, could not be sent off last year, which is well.

  • The trench mortars—bomb guns they call them—will be ready in japan in two and a half months' time.

  • Now we're saddled with about thirty thousand of them, and more coming on every steamer from Honolulu and japan.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton

British Dictionary definitions for japan (1 of 2)


/ (dʒəˈpæn) /

  1. a glossy durable black lacquer originally from the Orient, used on wood, metal, etc

  2. work decorated and varnished in the Japanese manner

  1. a liquid used as a paint drier

  1. relating to or varnished with japan

verb-pans, -panning or -panned
  1. (tr) to lacquer with japan or any similar varnish

British Dictionary definitions for Japan (2 of 2)


/ (dʒəˈpæn) /

  1. an archipelago and empire in E Asia, extending for 3200 km (2000 miles) between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific and consisting of the main islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu and over 3000 smaller islands: feudalism abolished in 1871, followed by industrialization and expansion of territories, esp during World Wars I and II, when most of SE Asia came under Japanese control; dogma of the emperor's divinity abolished in 1946 under a new democratic constitution; rapid economic growth has made Japan the most industrialized nation in the Far East. Official language: Japanese. Religion: Shintoist majority, large Buddhist minority. Currency: yen. Capital: Tokyo. Pop: 127 253 075 (2013 est). Area: 369 660 sq km (142 726 sq miles): Japanese names: Nippon, Nihon

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for Japan


Island nation in the northwest Pacific Ocean off the coast of east Asia, separated by the Sea of Japan from Russian Siberia, China, and Korea. The Japanese archipelago includes four major islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku) as well as many smaller islands. Its capital and largest city is Tokyo.

Notes for Japan

Called the “Land of the Rising Sun,” Japan is symbolized by a red sun on a white background.

Notes for Japan

Another symbol (see also symbol) of Japan is Fujiyama, also called Mount Fuji, a volcano whose symmetrical snow-capped peak has been the object of countless pilgrimages, poems, and paintings. It has not erupted since 1707.

Notes for Japan

Imperial Japan was organized on a feudal system (see feudalism), characterized by the samurai (the warrior class, which eventually became landed gentry) and the shogun (the hereditary administrative leader). The emperor, believed to be divine, was the ceremonial leader. Japan is a constitutional monarchy today.

Notes for Japan

Japan's ports were first opened to Western traders in the sixteenth century but were closed in the seventeenth century. Japan remained in virtual isolation until the 1850s, when an American naval officer, Matthew C. Perry, persuaded the government to reopen trade with the West.

Notes for Japan

Suffering from overcrowding, lack of natural resources, and the influence of powerful military factions, Japan pursued an aggressive policy of expansion in China during the 1930s, ultimately resulting in a military alliance with Germany and Italy to form the Axis powers in World War II. (See also Hiroshima (see also Hiroshima), Pearl Harbor, and Douglas MacArthur.)

Notes for Japan

Although a world leader in shipbuilding, electronics, and automobile manufacture, Japan's economy suffered a severe slump during the 1990s.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.