Glossary of Japanese words of Portuguese origin
Many Japanese words of Portuguese origin entered the Japanese language when Portuguese Jesuit priests introduced Christian ideas, Western science, technology and new products to the Japanese during the Muromachi period (15th and 16th centuries).
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach Japan and the first to establish direct trade between Japan and Europe, in 1542. During the 16th and 17th century, Portuguese Jesuits had undertaken a great work of Catechism, that ended only with religious persecution in the early Edo period (Tokugawa Shogunate). The Portuguese were the first to translate Japanese to a Western language, in the Nippo Jisho dictionary (日葡辞書, literally the "Japanese-Portuguese Dictionary") or "Vocabulario da Lingoa de Iapam" compiled by Portuguese Jesuit João Rodrigues, and published in Nagasaki in 1603, who also wrote a grammar "Arte da Lingoa de Iapam" (日本大文典, nihon daibunten). The dictionary of Japanese-Portuguese explained 32,000 Japanese words translated into Portuguese. Most of these words refer to the products and customs that first came to Japan via the Portuguese traders.
List of loanwords
Many of the first words which were introduced and entered the Japanese language from Portuguese and Dutch are written in kanji or hiragana, rather than katakana, which is the more common way to write loanwords in Japanese in modern times. Kanji versions of the words are ateji, characters that are "fitted" or "applied" to the words by the Japanese, based on either the pronunciation or the meaning of the word.
The † indicates the word is archaic and no longer in use.
|Japanese Rōmaji||Japanese Script||Japanese Meaning||Pre-modern Portuguese||Modern Portuguese||English||Notes|
|† bateren||伴天連 / 破天連||a missionary priest (mainly from Jesuit)||padre||padre||priest||used in early Christianity|
|battera||ばってら||kind of sushi||bateira||- (barco)||boat||named after its shape|
|bīdama||ビー玉||marbles (spheric-shaped)||----||berlindes, bola-de-gude, bolinha-de-gude||----||abbrev. of bīdoro + tama (Japanese: 'ball').
|bīdoro||ビードロ||a certain traditional type of glass artifact||vidro||vidro||glass|
|birōdo||ビロード / 天鵞絨||velvet||veludo||veludo||velvet||berubetto (from English velvet) is also used today.|
|bōro||ボーロ / ぼうろ||a kind of biscuit (tiny bead-like)||bolo||bolo||cake||keiki (from English cake) is most used today.|
|botan||ボタン / 釦 / 鈕||button||botão||botão||button|
|charumera||チャルメラ||small double-reed wind instrument||charamela||charamela (caramelo, "caramel", is cognate)||shawm (cf. the cognate chalumeau)||formerly played by Japanese noodle vendors|
|chokki||チョッキ||waistcoat (UK); vest (U.S.); Jacket||jaque||colete, jaqueta||waistcoat (UK); vest (U.S.); Jacket||Besuto (from English vest) is common today.|
|igirisu||イギリス / 英吉利||the United Kingdom||inglez||inglês||English (adj); Englishman|
|† iruman||イルマン / 入満 / 伊留満 / 由婁漫||missionary next in line to become a priest||irmão||irmão||brother||used in early Christianity|
|jōro||じょうろ / 如雨露||watering can||jarro||jarro||jug, watering can||"possibly from Portuguese" (Kōjien dictionary)|
|juban/jiban||じゅばん / 襦袢||undervest for kimonos||gibão||Antiga veste sem mangas.||undervest||French form jupon led to zubon (trousers).|
|kabocha||カボチャ / 南瓜||kabocha pumpkin||----||Camboja abóbora||kabocha pumpkin||Was first introduced to Japan from Cambodia, imported by the Portuguese. Camboja (Portuguese) → kabocha (Japanese). The Japanese term kabocha also appears in historical texts in reference to Cambodia.|
|kanakin/kanekin||金巾 / かなきん / かねきん||shirting, percale||canequim||canequim||unbleached muslin/calico||jargon from the textile business|
|† kandeya||カンデヤ||oil lamp||candeia, candela||vela, candeia||candle||extinct, as oil lamps went obsolete. Kantera from Dutch kandelaar was also used.|
|† kapitan||甲比丹 / 甲必丹||captain (of ships from Europe in The Age of Discovery)||capitão||capitão||captain||extinct word - the English form kyaputen (captain) is now used|
|kappa||合羽||raincoat||capa||capa (de chuva)||raincoat, coat||reinkōto (from English raincoat) is prevalent nowadays.|
|karuta||かるた / 歌留多||karuta cards||cartas (de jogar)||cartas (de jogar)||(playing) cards||a traditional type of playing cards, largely different from the modern worldwide ones|
|kasutera, kasutēra, kasuteira||カステラ||Kind of sponge cake||(Pão de) Ló||(Pão de) Ló||(Bread of) Ló||Theories cite Portuguese castelo (castle) or the Kingdom of Castile (Castela in Portuguese).|
|† kirishitan||キリシタン / 切支丹 / 吉利支丹 (Also written in the more negative forms 鬼理死丹 and 切死丹 after Christianity was banned by the Tokugawa Shogunate||Christian people in 16th and 17th centuries (who were severely persecuted by the Shogunate)||christão||cristão||Christian||Today's Christian people are Kurisuchan (from English Christian).|
|kirisuto||キリスト / 基督||Christ||Christo||Cristo||Christ|
|kompeitō||金米糖 / 金平糖 / 金餅糖||Kind of star-shaped candy||confeito||confeito||confection, candies||(related to confetti)|
|† kurusu||クルス||cross||cruz||cruz||cross||used in early Christianity, now kurosu (cross) from English|
|meriyasu||メリヤス / 莫大小||a kind of knit textile||medias||meias||hosiery, knitting|
|mīra||ミイラ / 木乃伊||mummy||mirra||mirra||myrrh||Originally, mummies embalmed using myrrh.|
|oranda||オランダ / 和蘭(陀) / 阿蘭陀||The Netherlands, Holland||Hollanda||Holanda, Países Baixos||The Netherlands, Holland|
|pan||パン||bread||pão||pão||bread||Often wrongly connected to the Spanish pan or the French pain, both with the same meaning. The word was introduced into Japan by Portuguese missionaries.|
|pin kara kiri made||ピンからキリまで||running the whole gamut, jumble of wheat and tares||(pinta, cruz)||(pinta, cruz)||(dot, cross)||literally 'from pin to kiri'|
|rasha||ラシャ / 羅紗||a kind of wool woven textile||raxa||– (feltro)||felt|
|saboten||サボテン / 仙人掌||cactus||sabão||sabão||soap||The derivation is said to come from the soap-like feature of its juice, although there are controversies.
|shabon||シャボン||(soap)||sabão||sabão||soap||More likely from older Spanish xabon. Usually seen in compounds such as shabon-dama ('soap bubbles') in modern Japanese.|
|subeta||スベタ||(an insulting word for women)||espada||espada||sword||Originally a term from playing cards, in reference to certain cards that earned the player zero points. This meaning extended to refer to "a boring, shabby, low person", and from there to mean "an unattractive woman".|
|tabako||タバコ / 煙草 / たばこ||tobacco, cigarette||tobaco||tabaco||tobacco, cigarette|
|totan||トタン / 塗炭||galvanized sheet iron (e.g. corrugated roofing material)||tutanaga||Corrugated galvanised iron|
|tempura||天麩羅 / 天婦羅||deep-fried seafood/vegetables||tempero, temperar; tempora||tempero, temperar; tempora||seasoning, to season; times of abstinence from meat|
|zabon||ざぼん / 朱欒 / 香欒||pomelo, shaddock||zamboa||zamboa||pomelo, shaddock|
|zesu or zezusu||ゼス, ゼズス||Jesus||Jesu||Jesus||Jesus||The modern term イエス (Iesu) is a reconstruction of the Ancient Greek term.|
|Look up ありがとう in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
It is often suggested that the Japanese word arigatō derives from the Portuguese obrigado, both of which mean "Thank you", but evidence clearly indicates a purely Japanese origin. The Japanese phrase arigatō gozaimasu is a polite form of arigatō. This is a form of an adjective, arigatai, for which written records exist dating back to the Man'yōshū compiled circa 759 AD, well before Japanese contact with Portugal.
The full derivation is arigatō, the “u” sound change of arigataku < arigataku, the attributive form of arigatai, < arigatai < arigatashi < ari + katashi. Ari is a verb meaning "to be" and katashi is an adjective meaning "difficult". The original meaning of "arigatashi" was "difficult to be", i.e. that the listener's generosity or behavior is "rare" and thus "special".