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Kanji Study : 防

Today we will look at a fairly common upper-level kanji, 防.

Meanings: ward off; defend; protect; resist

Kun: ふせ.ぐ

On: ボウ

Kanji Parts:
  • 阝 mound; dam
  • 方 direction

Mnemonic: Set up a mound 阝 to ward off and defend against those coming from the enemy's direction 方.

As a verb it means:

ふせぐ 【防ぐ】 protect from, keep away, prevent

And we can see these meanings in 熟語(じゅくご) jukugo (kanji combinations), but another meaning for this kanji, when used as a prefix, is "-proof". Knowing this can increase your vocabulary quickly and without much headache:



Examples of 防 as -proof 

防水(ぼうすい) 

bou sui
waterproof
[防水靴ぼうすいぐつ  bou sui gutsu - water-proof shoes; 防水ぼうすいコート bou sui ko-to - rain coat]]

防音(ぼうおん)

bou on
soundproofing
[防音室 bou on shitsu - soundproof room]

防犯(ぼうはん) 

bou han
prevention of crime; crime prevention
[crime-proof]

防火(ぼうか)

bou ka
fireproof

防災(ぼうさい)

bou sai
protection against (natural) disasters

防疫(ぼうえき)

bou eki
prevention of epidemics or plagues
[epidemic-proof]

Then we have a few examples that appear to mean the opposite of -proof. While the above 防 (-proof) was added to the undesirable thing it should prevent, the following seem to have 防 to compliment that meaning: to protect or defend (something) 

防止(ぼうし)

bou shi
prevention
[止 means to stop]

防戦(ぼうせん)

bou sen
a defensive battle
[戦 means war; battle]

防衛(ぼうえい)

bou ei
defense
[衛 means defense]

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