[ kah-tuh-kah-nuh; Japanese kah-tah-kah-nah ]
/ ˌkɑ təˈkɑ nə; Japanese ˈkɑ tɑˈkɑ nɑ /


the more angular, less commonly used of the two Japanese syllabaries.
Compare hiragana.

Origin of katakana

1720–30; < Japanese, equivalent to kata part (of kanji) + kana kana
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for katakana


/ (ˌkɑːtəˈkɑːnə) /


one of the two systems of syllabic writing employed for the representation of Japanese, based on Chinese ideograms. It is used mainly for foreign or foreign-derived words

Word Origin for katakana

Japanese, from kata side + kana
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

Word Origin and History for katakana



from Japanese katakana, from kata "side" + kana "borrowed letter(s)."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper