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Holes in the Story

Like , the kanji has the kun-yomi muna(shii), meaning “empty, vain, futile.” In fact, has several overlaps with :

• Another kun-yomi of is uro, meaning “cavity, hollow, hole.” Although doesn’t mean “hole,” its top component, , certainly does.

• The on-yomi of (KYO, KO) is similar to that of (KŪ). Both on-yomi mean “empty.”

• The two characters even hook up in these compounds:

空虚 (kūko: emptiness, vacancy)
虚空 (kokū: empty space, sky)

Jim Breen’s online dictionary gives “untruth” as another definition of . Indeed, as Kenneth Henshall notes in A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters, (empty) combines with (mouth) to form the character (uso: lies). We’ve seen this kind of falseness in many words.

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