Definition of katakana in English:



mass noun
  • The more angular form of kana (syllabic writing) used in Japanese, primarily used for words of foreign origin.

    • ‘Some writing systems (such as Japanese katakana and hiragana) are syllable based.’
    • ‘Historically, there is no association at all between katakana and foreign words.’
    • ‘Japanese features three reading systems: hiragana, katakana and kanji.’
    • ‘It is of course possible to write Japanese entirely in hiragana or katakana, and that's what Japanese children start by learning to do in school before they move on to kanji.’
    • ‘In modern written Japanese, kanji, hiragana, and katakana are combined.’


Early 18th century Japanese, literally ‘side kana’.