[kah-tuh-kah-nuh; Japanese kah-tah-kah-nah]
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. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for katakana


  1. 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