Glossary of Japanese words of Portuguese origin

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Many Japanese words of Portuguese origin entered the Japanese language when Portuguese Jesuit priests and traders 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 1543. 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).

List of direct loanwords[edit]

Many of the 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 translation of Portuguese Notes
[1] anjo アンジョ angel anjo anjo angel
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 / ja:バッテラ kind of sushi bateira bateira, barco boat named after its shape
beranda ベランダ balcony varanda varanda balcony
bīdama ja:ビー玉 marbles (spheric-shaped) ---- berlindes, bola-de-gude, bolinha-de-gude marbles abbrev. of bīdoro (Japanese: 'glass', also from Portuguese: see below) + tama (Japanese: 'ball').
bīdoro ビードロ
  • 1.(obsolete[2]) glass.
  • 2. a traditional sound-making toy made of glass, also called popin [ja].[3]
vidro vidro glass
bōbura ボーブラ (dialect) kabocha pumpkin[4] abóbora[4] abóbora pumpkin originally was in use nationwide, but replaced by kabocha in Edo (Tokyo).[5]
birōdo ビロード / 天鵞絨 velvet veludo veludo velvet berubetto (from English velvet) is also used today.
bōro ja:ボーロ / ぼうろ a kind of small biscuit or cookie bolo bolo cake
botan ボタン / 釦 / 鈕 button botão botão button
charumera ja:チャルメラ small double-reed wind instrument charamela charamela (caramelo, "caramel", is cognate) shawm (cf. the cognate chalumeau) formerly played in Japan by ramen 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.
[1] Deusu デウス Christian God Deus Deus God
dochirina ドチリナ doctrine doutrina doutrina doctrine
furasuko ja:フラスコ laboratory flask frasco frasco flask
hiryōzu, hiryūzu, hiryūsu ja:飛竜頭
  • 1.(obsolete)[6] Deep-fried glutinous rice balls[7]
  • 2.Fried tofu balls with mixed vegetables, also known as ganmodoki[8][7]
filhós[7] filhós
igirisu イギリス / 英吉利 the United Kingdom inglez inglês English (adj); Englishman
[1] inheruno インヘルノ Christian hell inferno inferno hell
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 ja: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 / ja:襦袢 undervest for kimono gibão undervest The French form jupon led to zubon (trousers).
kabocha ja:カボチャ / 南瓜
Camboja (abóbora) (abóbora) cabotiá Cambodia (-n pumpkin) Was thought to be from Cambodia,[9] imported by the Portuguese.
kanakin/kanekin 金巾 / かなきん / かねきん shirting, percale canequim unbleached muslin/calico jargon from the textile business
kandeya カンデヤ oil lamp candeia, candela vela, candeia candle extinct. 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. Japanese word senchō or the English form kyaputen (captain) is now used
kappa ja:合羽 raincoat capa capa (de chuva) raincoat, coat reinkōto (from English raincoat) is prevalent nowadays.
karuta ja:かるた / 歌留多 karuta cards, a traditional type of playing cards which is largely different from the modern worldwide ones cartas (de jogar) cartas (de jogar) (playing) cards
karusan カルサン a specific kind of hakama trousers calsan calçao trousers
kasutera, kasutēra, kasuteira ja:カステラ Kind of sponge cake[10] (Pão de) Castela (Pão de) Castela (Bread/cake of) Castile Theories cite Portuguese castelo (castle) or the region of Castile (Castela in Portuguese). The cake itself may originally derive from bizcocho, a Spanish kind of biscotti.
kirishitan ja: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
koendoro コエンドロ coriander coentro coentro coriander
konpeitō 金米糖 / ja:金平糖 / 金餅糖 Kind of star-shaped candy confeito confeito confection, candies (related to confetti)
koppu コップ cup copo copo cup
[1] kurusu クルス Christian cross cruz cruz cross used in early Christianity, now jūjika (cross), a kanji translation
manto ja:マント cloak manto manto cloak
marumero ja:マルメロ quince marmelo marmelo quince
meriyasu ja: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.
nataru ナタル Christmas Natal Natal Christmas Annual festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ
oranda オランダ / 和蘭(陀) / 阿蘭陀 The Netherlands, Holland Hollanda Holanda, Países Baixos The Netherlands, Holland
orugan ja:オルガン organ (music) orgão órgão organ
pan ja:パン bread pão pão bread Often wrongly connected to the Spanish pan or the French pain, both with the same meaning and the same Latinate origin. The word was introduced into Japan by Portuguese missionaries.[11]
[1] paraiso パライソ paradise. Specifically in reference to the Christian ideal of heavenly paradise. paraíso paraíso paradise
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 ja:ラシャ / 羅紗 a kind of wool woven textile raxa – (feltro) felt
rozario ロザリオ rosary rosario rosário rosary
sabato サバト Saturday sábado sábado Saturday
saboten ja: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.
cf. shabon
Santa Maria サンタマリア Saint Mary Santa Maria Santa Maria Saint Mary Saint Mary
sarasa ja:更紗 chintz saraça chintz
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.
shurasuko ja:シュラスコ Brazilian style churrasco barbecue churrasco barbecue Modern borrowing.
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 ja:トタン
tutanaga[12]: 補注(1) 

(Could be of other origin, as Nippo jisho implies.[13])

tutenag (a zinc alloy; zinc)[14] The homophone "塗炭" is sometimes mistaken as an ateji for "トタン", but is actually a different word of native origin meaning "agony".[15]
tempura ja:天ぷら / 天麩羅 / 天婦羅 deep-fried seafood/vegetables tempero, temperar;[16][17] tempora tempero, temperar; tempora seasoning, to season; times of abstinence from meat
zabon ja:ざぼん / 朱欒 / 香欒 pomelo, shaddock zamboa zamboa pomelo, shaddock
[1] 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.

List of indirect loanwords[edit]

Japanese Rōmaji Japanese script Japanese meaning Pre-modern Portuguese Modern Portuguese English translation of Portuguese Notes
beranda ベランダ balcony varanda pt:varanda balcony Loanword from English "veranda",[18] which derived from India, which in turn probably originated from Portuguese: varanda.[19]

False cognates[edit]

Some word pairs that appear similar are actually false cognates of unrelated origins.


It is often suggested that the Japanese word arigatō derives from the Portuguese obrigado, both of which mean "Thank you", but evidence indicates arigatō has a purely Japanese origin,[20] so these two words are false cognates.

Arigatō is an "u"-sound change of arigataku.[21] In turn, arigataku is the adverbial form of an adjective arigatai, from older arigatashi,[22] itself a compound of ari + katashi. Written records of arigatashi exist dating back to the Man'yōshū compiled in the 8th century AD,[22]: (1)  well before Japanese contact with the Portuguese in the 16th century.

Ari is a conjugation of verb aru meaning "to be", and katashi is an adjective meaning "difficult", so arigatashi literally means "difficult to exist",[22] hence "rare" and thus "precious",[22]: (3)  with usage shifting to indicate gratitude for receiving an outstanding kindness.[22]: (5)  The phrase to express such gratitude is arigatō gozaimasu,[21]: (イ)  or arigatō for short.[21]: (ロ) 

Other words not of Portuguese origin[edit]

Japanese Rōmaji Japanese script English translation of Japanese Supposedly similar Portuguese word English translation of Portuguese Notes
buranko wikt:ぶらんこ swing, swingset balanço swing Not from Portuguese[23][24]
gan wikt:雁 wild goose ganso goose Not from Portuguese[20]
inoru (transcribed by Fonseca as inoriru,[20] erroneously.[25]) wikt:祈る pray orar pray Not from Portuguese[20]
miru wikt:見る see mirar look[26] Not from Portuguese[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Not found in "Full text search - Japan Bible Society Interconfessional Version" 聖書本文検索 - 聖書協会共同訳. Japan Bible Society (in Japanese). Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  2. ^ "ビードロ". ja:ブリタニカ国際大百科事典 小項目事典 (Britannica international encyclopedia, Japanese edition) via Kotobank. Britannica Japan. 2014. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  3. ^ "ビードロ (2)". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典) via Kotobank. Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  4. ^ a b "ボーブラ". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典). Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2024-04-11 – via Kotobank.
  5. ^ Tachibana, Shoichi (1936-05-20). 方言学概論 [Dialectology] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: 育英書院. pp. 223–225. OCLC 22958699. JPNO 59001801.
  6. ^ Nakagawa, Kiyoshi (2003). 南蛮菓子と和蘭陀菓子の系譜 [Study on nanban-kashi and oranda-kashi]. The semiannual periodical of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Department of English and Department of Foreign Languages, Komazawa University (駒澤大学外国語部論集) (in Japanese). 58. Japan: Komazawa University: 92–94.
    • p94 Rough translation: So, by sometime before the 19th century, [hiryōsu] transformed from a fried confection to a fried savory dish.
  7. ^ a b c "飛龍頭 ひりゅうず". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典). Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2024-04-11 – via Kotobank.
  8. ^ "雁擬 がんもどき". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典). Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2024-04-11 – via Kotobank.
  9. ^ a b c d "カボチャ". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典) via Kotobank. Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  10. ^ "kasutera-o-pao-de-lo-japones". Expresso. Retrieved 2021-01-18.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ See Infoseek Japanese-English dictionary for pan/パン[permanent dead link].
  12. ^ a b c "トタン". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edtition (精選版 日本国語大辞典) via Kotobank (in Japanese). Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2021-01-22.
  13. ^ Society of Jesus, ed. (1960) [1604]. "Tǒtan". Vocabvlario da lingoa de Iapam (Nippo jisho) (in Portuguese) (1960 reprint by Iwanami Shoten, annotated by Tadao Doi ed.). Japan: Iwanami Shoten. p. 769. Tǒtan. Tutunaga genero de metal branco. (Treating "Tǒtan" as a Japanese word, explaining its meaning with Portuguese word "tutunaga")
    • Pronunciation in 16c of tǒtan was [tɔ:tan]: Society of Jesus, ed. (1980). オ段長音の表記 ['O' gemination]. Hoyaku Nippo jisho (in Japanese). Translated by Doi, Tadao; Morita, Takeshi; Chonan, Minoru. Japan: Iwanami Shoten. p. 848.
  14. ^ "Tutenag". A New English Dictionary On Historical Principles (OED). Vol. 10 Part 1. Book TI-TZ (1926 ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1926. p. 513.
  15. ^ "塗炭". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典) via Kotobank (in Japanese). Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  16. ^ LINGUIST List 12.1906 Thu Jul 26 2001 Sum: "Arigato" and "Tempura"
  17. ^ Tracking Down Tempura by Takashi Morieda Archived 2007-05-14 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Eizo, Katsuya (1916-02-12). ベランダー [veranda]. 外来語辞典 [gairaigo dictionary] (in Japanese) (訂増 ed.). Tokyo: 二松堂書店 (Futamatsudō shoten). p. 564. doi:10.11501/937203. (英) [loanword from English]
  19. ^ "veranda". A New English Dictionary On Historical Principles. Vol. 10 (NED ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1928. p. 118.
  20. ^ a b c d e Kim, Tai Whan (1975). "On the present status of portuguese loanwords in Japanese". Romance Notes. 16 (3). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for its Department of Romance Studies: 725. JSTOR 43801381 – via JSTOR.
  21. ^ a b c "ありがとう (有難)". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典) via Kotobank. Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2021-10-04.
  22. ^ a b c d e "ありがたい (有難)". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典) via Kotobank. Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2021-10-04.
  23. ^ "鞦韆". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典) via Kotobank. Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2021-11-23. 〘名〙 (擬態語「ぶらり」「ぶらん」などからできた語か。一説に、balanço からとも)
  24. ^ "ブランコ/鞦韆/ぶらんこ". 18 May 2021. Retrieved 2021-11-23. 揺れや振動を意味するポルトガル語の「balanço(バランソ)」に由来する説もある。
  25. ^ "い-の・る【祈・祷】". Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition (精選版 日本国語大辞典) via Kotobank. Shogakukan. 2006. Retrieved 2021-11-24. [Japanese verb conjugation ra column Godan verb (yodan verb in Classical Japanese)]: This means that this verb has no "-riru" form.
  26. ^ "mirar". Collins Portuguese to English. HarperCollins. Archived from the original on 2023-01-14. Retrieved 2023-01-14.

External links[edit]