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n. pl. kana or ka·nas
1. Japanese syllabic writing. The characters are simplified kanji and are usually used with kanji primarily to write inflections, particles, and function words and to show the pronunciations of some kanji and of all foreign words.
2. Any of the characters used in this system.
[Japanese, from Old Japanese kanna, kana, contraction of karina (literally, provisional letter, as opposed to kanji which were considered to be Chinese characters in their true use) : kari-, provisional, not according to rule + na, name, letter.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
[C18: from Japanese, literally: borrowed or provisional letters; compare kanji, which are regarded as real letters]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
a Japanese syllabic script consisting of 71 symbols and having two written varieties. Compare hiragana, katakana.
[1720–30; < Japanese]
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