Etymology and loanwords
Japanese Edo period
wood block print (ca 1735) of a samurai with a tachi
Antique Japanese daishō
, the traditional pairing of two Japanese swords which were the symbol of the samurai
, showing the traditional Japanese sword cases (koshirae
) and the difference in size between the katana
(bottom) and the smaller wakizashi
"Katana" is the term now used to describe the family of swords known as nihontō that are 2 shaku (606 mm / 23.9 in) in-length or longer.
Katana can also be known as dai or daitō among Western sword enthusiasts although daitō is a generic name for any Japanese long sword, literally meaning "big sword".
As Japanese does not have separate plural and singular forms, both katanas and katana are considered acceptable forms in English.
Pronounced [katana], the kun'yomi (Japanese reading) of the kanji 刀, originally meaning dao or knife/saber in Chinese, the word has been adopted as a loanword by the Portuguese language. In Portuguese the designation (spelled catana) means "large knife" or machete.