Professional English-Japanese translator Alan Siegrist writes:
OK, so I was looking over the kanji tattoos at Bmezine.com again (yes, it is getting addictive), and I found this picture:
The first thing I thought of when I saw all of these guys with the character 昆 on their shoulders was the combination 昆虫, but I couldn’t for the life of me think of why they would want to tattoo themselves with the word for bug or insect.
Then I thought it might be a Chinese thing, so I looked it up in a Chinese dictionary. I think that 昆仲 or 昆季 can mean “brothers.” Is that the first association a Chinese person would make upon seeing the character 昆? Or would you think of 昆虫 also? Even if the meaning of “brother” is right, why would they use only 昆 which means only “elder brother”?
If they really wanted to do a guy thing and tattoo themselves with the Chinese or Japanese for “brothers” wouldn’t 兄弟 be a better choice?
Anyway, I know you must be busy, but I still appreciate the work you put into Hanzismatter.com.
昆 may have once meant 'brother.' However, just like any other language, its meaning has changed with time. Similar to the word 'gay' no longer exclusively meaning 'happy' in modern day English.