List of gairaigo and wasei-eigo terms

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This is a selected list of gairaigo, Japanese words originating or based on foreign language (generally Western) terms, including wasei-eigo (Japanese pseudo-Anglicisms).

Many of these words derive from Portuguese, due to Portugal's early role in Japanese-Western interaction; Dutch, due to the Netherlands' relationship with Japan amidst the policy of sakoku during the Edo period; and from French and German, due to France and Germany's cultural and scientific prominence during Japan's modernization in the Meiji period.

However, most come from English, the dominant world language today. Due to the large number of western concepts imported into Japanese culture during modern times, there are thousands of these English borrowings. These English words are informally referred to as having been "Nipponized".

Japanese vocabulary also includes large numbers of words from Chinese, borrowed at various points throughout history. However, since the Japanese language has such strong historical ties to the Chinese language, these loans are not generally considered gairaigo. Many loan words are in fact pseudo-borrowings: despite their links to foreign language words, the word forms as used in modern Japanese are not used in the same way in their languages of origin. In fact, many such terms, despite their similarity to the original foreign words, are not easily understood by speakers of those languages (e.g. left over as a baseball term for a hit that goes over the left-fielder's head, rather than uneaten food saved for a later meal as in English—or famikon ファミコン from "Family computer", which actually refers to the Nintendo Entertainment System).

See the list of Japanese terms mistaken for gairaigo for details of words or terms mistaken for foreign loan words and false cognates.

US = American English
UK = British English


Due to the extent of Japanese borrowings, particularly from English, this list focuses mainly on pseudo-borrowings and commonly used loan words from languages other than English (which are often mistaken for English words in Japan). Most loan words (and all modern loans) are transcribed in Katakana, a kana (Japanese syllabary) whose usage approximates English italics. Older loans may be written using Ateji, with Kanji used to represent their phonetic readings without necessarily inheriting their meaning. In words composed of both a loan and native Japanese, the Japanese can function as a morpheme within a compound (and would generally be written in Kanji if possible), or can be attached to the foreign word to inflect or otherwise modify it, as if it were okurigana (which is written in Hiragana).

Japanese Hepburn romanization Origin Meaning Language of origin
アベック abekku ’’avec’’ (meaning ‘with’) romantic couple French
アフターサービス afutā sābisu after service customer service, user support, after care, service English
アイドル aidoru idol (teen) idol, pop star English
アイス aisu ice/Eis ice, also used as a shortened form of ice cream English/German
アイスクリーム aisu kurīmu ice cream ice cream English
アイゼン aizen ’’(Steig)eisen’’ (meaning ‘climbing iron’ or ‘crampon’) crampons German
アメフト amefuto Ame(rican) foot(ball) American football English
アメリカンドッグ amerikan doggu American dog corn dog English
アニメ anime ‘’About this soundlisten ’’ anima(tion) animation, animated cartoons or films (although ‘’anime’’ has been reborrowed into English with a meaning of “Japanese animation”, in Japanese the term refers to all animation) English
アニソン anison ani(me) + son(g) an anime song, most often the theme English
アンケート ankēto ’’enquête’’ questionnaire, survey French
アンニュイ annyui ’’ennui’’ ennui, boredom French
アンサー ansā answer reply to a question, solution to a problem English
アンチ anchi anti- hater, anti-fan English
アパート apāto apart(ment) apartment (US), flat (UK), though apāto are usually in small two-story wood-structure buildings, not multistory complexes as in the US usage English (American)
アポ apo appo(intment) appointment English
〜アップ ~appu up(grade) to upgrade or improve (something). Coupled with English or pseudo-English nouns that indicate what that something is; e.g., ‘’version-up’’: upgrade (software), buy the next-better version or model of something, improve the appearance of something; ‘’image-up’’: improve the image of, improve one’s outward appearance; “weight-up”: to gain weight; ‘’manner-up’’: improve one’s manners, learn (proper/better) manners or etiquette; ‘’power-up‘’: an object that instantly benefits or adds extra abilities to a video game character; ‘’base-up, level-up’’: take to the next or a higher (basic) level of quality; also ‘’base-up’’ (frequently abbreviated ‘’bea’’): to raise the base wage of the workers English
アロエ aroe ’’Aloë’’ aloe Dutch
アルバイト or バイト arubaito or baito ’’Arbeit’’ (meaning ‘work’) part-time job German
アールブイ ārubui RV truck, van, SUV, Recreational Vehicle  English
アルコール arukōru ’’alcohol’’, ‘’álcool’’ alcohol, alcoholic beverage Dutch
アウトコース autokōsu out course outside English
バーゲン bāgen bargain a sale at a store English
バイキング baikingu viking smorgasbord, buffet. It is said that this originated from the restaurant “Imperial Viking” in the Imperial Hotel, which was the first restaurant in Japan to serve buffet-style meals, named after the 1958 American film The Vikings’'. English
バイク baiku bike a motorcycle, but not a bicycle English
バカンス bakansu ’’vacances’’ holiday, vacation French
ブックカバー bukku kabā book cover dust jacket English
バックミラー bakku mirā back mirror rear-view mirror English
バックナンバー bakku nanbā back number back issue English
バックネット bakku netto back net a backstop (in baseball) English
バリアフリー baria furī barrier free Accessible facilities for handicapped persons English
バリカン barikan Bariquand et Marre (French) Hand or electric operating hair trimmer French
バスジャック basu jakku bus (hi)jack a bus hijacking (possibly based on the English term “carjack”) English?
バター batā butter butter, sometimes used on food packaging to refer to margarine English
バッティング battingu batting or butting Swing the bat in baseball; or, to project forward or propose competitively on business or others by two or more parties, like “butting heads” by animals. English
ベビーカー bebī kā baby car stroller (US), pushchair or pram (UK) English
ベッドタウン beddo taun bed town bedroom suburbs, bedroom community, dormitory suburb, commuter town English
ビー玉 bīdama ’’vi(dro)’’ (glass) + 玉 (‘’dama’’, ball) marbles Portuguese + Japanese
ビジネスホテル bijinesu hoteru business hotel budget hotel English
ビロード birōdo ’’veludo’’ velvet Portuguese
ビル biru buil(ding) building (especially modern steel / concrete buildings) English
ビール bīru ’’bier’’ beer Dutch
ボンベ bonbe ’’Bombe’’ a steel canister for storing pressurized gas, such as a propane tank German
ボールペン bōru pen ball(point) pen a ballpoint pen English
ボタン botan ’’botão’’ button Portuguese
ブランコ buranko ’’balanço’’ a swing Portuguese
ブラセラ or ブルセラ burasera or burusera bloo(mer) sailor panty fetishism, especially with teenage girls wearing school outfits (“sailor suits”) and bloomers. English
ブレザー burezā blazer ’’blazer‘’, or a Japanese school uniform that includes that garment. It usually has buttons down the front and a vest under it with a white collared shirt. English
ブルマ buruma bloomers short pants worn for exercise by girls, usually in PE class in high school English
キャビンアテンダント kyabin atendanto (Sometimes shortened to “CA”) Cabin attendant A flight attendant English
チェリーボーイ cherī bōi cherry boy A male virgin English
チアガール chia gāru cheer girl (female) cheerleader English
チアマン chia man cheer man (male) cheerleader English
チアリーダー chiarīdā cheerleader cheerleader English
チアリーディング chiarīdingu cheerleading cheerleading English
チケット chiketto ticket ticket English
チンキ chinki ’’tinktuur’’ tincture Dutch
チューハイ or 酎ハイ chūhai (焼)酎 (‘’(Shō)chū‘’) + high(ball) a kind of alcoholic drink originating from Japan Japanese + English
コラボ korabo Collab(orations) A term for when two separate entities come together and make something English
コンピューター or コンピュータ konpyūtā or konpyūta computer computer English
ダブル(noun), ダブる(intransitive verb). Sometimes “W” daburu double (noun and adjective) double; double-breasted (jacket), or turn-ups (cuffs) on trousers; (verb) to be redundant or doubled English
ダンプカー danpu kā dump car dump truck (US), dumper (UK) English
ダストボックス dasuto bokkusu dust box rubbish bin (UK), garbage can (US) English
ダウンロードオンリーメンバー daunrōdo onrī menbā download only member a computing leech English
〜ティック or 〜⁠チック ~tikku or ~chikku the “-tic” suffix, as in (roman)tic, (drama)tic ~esque, attached to a noun. For example, a product with cute character illustrations may be considered “Akihabara-chikku”. English
デッドボール deddo bōru dead ball hit by a pitch English
デコレーションケーキ dekorēshon kēki decoration cake a fancy cake English
電子レンジ or レンジ denshi renji or renji 電子 (‘’denshi’’, electronic) + range a microwave oven Japanese + English
デパート depāto depart(ment store) department store English
デパ地下 depa chika de(partment store) + 地下 (‘’chika’’, underground)[1] a shopping area, often focused on food and located adjacent to train stations, found in major cities in Japan English + Japanese
デリバリーヘルス deribarī herusu delivery health a form of prostitution, essentially a call girl or escort service English
デッサン dessan dessin drawing French
デスク desuku desk an editor for a certain section of a publication, derived from the English custom of calling the job a desk, as in “the sports desk” English
ドイツ doitsu ’’Duits(land)’’, ‘’Deutsch(land)’’ Germany Dutch, German
ドクター ストップ dokutā sutoppu doctor stop when the doctor tells a patient to stop doing something English
ドンマイ donmai don(‘t) mi(nd) ”don’t worry about it”, “don’t pay (that) any mind”, “it’s/I’m OK”, “no problem”. Frequently used when something goes wrong English
ドライバー doraibā driver a screwdriver, motor vehicle driver English
ドライブイン doraibuin drive in rest area, motor lodge, drive-in English
ドラマ dorama drama TV drama, soap opera English
ドリフト dorifuto drift drifting, in the sense of a car in the controlled skid used in drifting English
エアコン eakon air con(ditioning) or air con(ditioner) air conditioning or air conditioner English
AV ēbui or ēvui wasei-eigo AV adult video, audio visual (audio video) English
エキス ekisu ’’ex(tract)’’ extract Dutch
エネルギッシュ enerugisshu ’’energisch’’ energetic German
エンスト ensuto en(gine) sto(p) stall (as in an automobile engine) English
エレベーター erebētā elevator elevator (American English), lift (British English) English (American)
エロ ero ero(s) erotic English
エログ erogu ero(tic) + (b)log erotic / adult oriented blog English
エログロ eroguro ero(tic) gro(tesque) a loosely defined artistic movement featuring “erotic grotesque nonsense” that emerged in Japan in the early 20th century English
エール ēru yell (1) to cheer on a player in a sports competition; (2) to express support for a candidate in an election English
LLC eruerushī acronym for “long life coolant” antifreeze coolants English
エスカレーター esukarētā escalator escalator English
エステ esute ’’esthé(tique)’’ beauty salon, esthetic clinic French
エッチ etchi H (likely from the first letter of hentai) dirty, naughty; sex (the etymology of ‘’etchi’’ is still debated by Japanese linguists) English
ファイナル fainaru final last English
ファイト faito fight often used to mean “Do your best!” or “I’ll do my best.” English
ファミコン famikon, Famicom ‘’About this soundlisten ’’ fami(ly) com(puter) the Nintendo Entertainment System. Also used as a catch-all term by the older generation for any gaming console. English
ファンファーレ fanfāre Fanfare a musical fanfare German
ファンタジック fantajikku fantasy + -ic fantastic English
ファッションヘルス fasshon herusu fashion health a form of brothel English
フェッチ fetchi fetch (Computer Jargon) To fetch an instruction from main memory when a microprocessor executes a command English
~フェチ fechi feti(sh) fetish (typically a sexual fetish but sometimes just referring to a distinctive preference) English
フォアボール foabōru four ball walk, base on, ball four English
フライ furai fly fly ball (baseball term) English
フライ furai fry Deep frying English
フライングゲット furaingu getto flying get to purchase an item before its official release date English
フライドポテト furaido poteto fried potato french fries (US), chips (UK) English
フライング(スタート) furaingu (sutāto) flying (start) premature start, breakaway English
フリーダイアル or フリーダイヤル furī daiaru or furī daiyaru free dial toll free call English
フリーコール furī kōru free call toll free call English
フリーサイズ furī saizu free size one-size-fits-all English
フリーター furītā free + contraction of ‘’Arbeiter’’ (=“worker” in German) (or free + time) underemployed young adults, people who opt to work (a series of) part-time jobs rather than engage in permanent employment English + German
フロント furonto front (desk) the reception desk, e.g. at a hotel or a sentō English
フロントガラス furonto garasu front glass windshield (US), windscreen (UK) English
ガードマン gādo man guard man a (private) security guard, a person who directs traffic around work sites English
ガラス or 硝子 garasu ’’glas’’ or glass glass (material) Dutch or English
ガソリンスタンド gasorin sutando gasoline stand gas station (US), petrol station (UK) English
ガッツポーズ gattsu pōzu guts pose fist pump, victory pose English
ガーゼ gāze ’’Gaze’’ gauze German
ゲームセンター or ゲーセン gēmu sentā or gēsen game centre video arcade English
ゲレンデ gerende ’’Gelände’’ (meaning ‘site; ground; premises’) ski slope German
ギブ(アップ) gibu(appu) give (up) To give up English
ギプス or ギブス gipusu or gibusu ’’Gips’’ cast (sometimes ‘’gipusu’’ means a plaster cast, while ‘’gibusu’’ refers to a plastic brace) German
ゴム gomu ’’gom’’ rubber, eraser, rubber band Dutch
ゴールデンアワー or ゴールデンタイム gōruden awā or gōruden taimu golden hour or golden time prime time in Japanese television English
ゴールデンウィーク or ゴールデンウイーク gōruden wīku or gōruden uīku golden week A week of holidays in Japan, Golden Week. English
ググる guguru goog(le) + ‘’-ru’’ (Japanese verb ending) to google English + Japanese
グラビア gurabia gravure glamour photography English
グラス gurasu glass drinking glass English
グロ guro gro(tesque) grotesque English
ギャラリー gyararī gallery an art gallery, audience, or a pool of celebrities on a program. English
ギャル gyaru gal a young woman who belongs to the gyaru subculture English
ハイカラ haikara high colla(r) In 1920s slang, “haikara” referred to a person who was devoted to Western fashions, trends and values. See also the popular 1970s manga and anime, Haikara-san ga Tōru (“Here Comes Miss High-Collar”).

ハイネック hainekku high neck A turtleneck style shirt or sweater English
ハイオク haioku high octane High octane gasoline English
ハイタッチ haitatchi high touch High five English
ハッカー hakkā hacker refers specifically to a computer black hat English
ハッピーエンド happī endo happy end a happy ending English
ハモる hamoru harmo(ny) + ‘’-ru’’ (Japanese verb ending) to harmonize (when singing) English + Japanese
ハンバーグ hanbāgu hamburg(er steak) Salisbury steak, (culinary term) English
ハンチング帽 hanchingu-bō hunting + 帽 (‘’bō’’, hat, cap) hunting cap English + Japanese
ハンドル handoru handle steering wheel or bicycle handlebars English
ハンドルキーパー handoru kīpā handle keeper designated driver English
ハンドルネーム handoru nēmu handle name handle, screen name English
ハンカチ hankachi han(d)kerchie(f) handkerchief English
ハンスト hansuto hun(ger) st(rike) hunger strike English
ハウス hausu (vinyl) + house greenhouse or glasshouse English
ヘアピンカーブ heapin kābu hairpin curve hairpin turn English
ヘルスメーター herusu mētā health meter bathroom scales, scales English
ヒステリー hisuterī ’’Hysterie’’ loss of (self) control German
ヒップ hippu ’’Hips’’ buttocks, butt English
ホルモン horumon ’’Hormon’’ hormone; also offal when served for yakiniku or hotpot German
ホース hōsu ’’hoos’’ a hose Dutch
ホッチキス hotchikisu Hotchkiss stapler (a genericized trademark of the E. H. Hotchkiss company, also used in Korea) English
ホットケーキ hotto kēki hotcake a pancake, (also called hotcake in English) English
ホーム hōmu (plat)form a railway platform English
ホワイトデー howaito dē White + Day White Day, a month after Valentine’s Day English
イエス iesu ’’Jesus’’ Jesus Reconstructed from Ancient Greek
イギリス igirisu ’’inglês’’ or ‘’inglés’’ English, England or the United Kingdom Portuguese and Spanish
イクラ ikura икра (‘’ikra’’) (meaning ‘caviar‘) salmon roe Russian
イメージ imēji image an image, often used to indicate an artist’s rendering or a graphic intended to provide a conceptual image of a situation; especially in advertising and design, a conceptual description intended to conjure a mental image of an abstract situation; (the public’s) impression or perception of an entity. English
インスタ insuta Instagram Instagram English
インフレ infure infla(tion) inflation English
イン・キー in kī in key locking one’s car keys inside of one’s car English
イラスト irasuto illust(ration) an illustration English
イヤー・オブ・ザ・コーチ iyā obu za kōchi year of the coach coach of the year (a title given to coaches by Asahi Shimbun and the Japan High School Baseball Federation from 2003-2005; corrected to the Japanese name 育成功労賞 from 2006; now known as the Training Achievement Award) English
ジャンパー janpā jumper jacket, jumper (Ski jumping athletes) English
ジェンダーフリー jendā furī gender free gender equality, gender blind English
ジェットコースター jetto kōsutā jet coaster roller coaster English
ジンギスカン jingisukan Genghis Khan Jingisukan (Mongolian style barbecue with cut lamb and vegetables) Mongolian
ジーパン jīpan jea(ns) + pan(ts) jeans English
ジュース jūsu juice often used to refer to soda or energy drinks, regardless of whether they contain any juice English
カメラマン kameraman cameraman photographer or cameraman English
カモン or カモーン kamon or kamōn come on An invitation to join an activity or event. English
カン or 缶 kan ’’kan’’ can (beverage can or tin can) Dutch
カンニング kanningu cunning cheating English
カッパ or 合羽 kappa ’’capa (de chuva)’’ (rain) coat Portuguese
カラン karan ’’kraan’’ faucet Dutch
カラオケ karaoke ‘’About this soundlisten ’’ 空 (‘’kara’’, empty) + orche(stra) karaoke Japanese + English
カリウム or カリ or 加里 kariumu or kari ’’kalium’’ potassium Dutch
カルキ karuki ’’kalk’’ lime (mineral) Dutch
カルピス karupisu cal(cium) + सर पिस ‘’(sar)pis’’ (Sanskrit for “good taste”) Calpis (a milky soft drink) English + Sanskrit
カルタ karuta ’’carta’’ karuta (Japanese playing cards) Portuguese
カルテ karute ’’Karte’’ (a patient’s) medical record German
カシューナッツ Kashū nattsu cashew nut cashew English
カステラ kasutera or Castella ’’(pão de) Castela’’ (bread from Castile) a kind of sponge cake popular at festivals and as a street food in Japan Portuguese
カタルシス katarushisu katharsis (in Greek: Κάθαρσις) purification or purgation Greek
カチューシャ kachūsha Katyusha, a character in the novel ‘’Resurrection‘’ Alice band; horseshoe-shaped hairband made of metal or plastic (often covered with cloth). However, in Russian it is called “ободок” (“obodók”). Russian
キーホルダー kī horudā key holder key ring or key chain English
キリスト or 基督 kirisuto ’’Cristo’’ Christ Portuguese
キスマーク kisu māku kiss mark hickey English
キッチンペーパー kitchin pēpā kitchen paper paper towel English
コーヒー or 珈琲 kōhī ’’koffie’’ coffee Dutch
コインランドリー koin randorī coin laundry laundromat (US), launderette (UK) English
コインロッカー koin rokkā coin locker type of locker English
コック kokku ’’kok’’ a cook Dutch
コマーシャルメッセージ or CM komāsharu messeji commercial message television advertisement English
コミカライズ komikaraizu comic + -alize to make a comic strip (‘’manga‘’) version of an originally non-comic strip title, such as a novel, movie, or TV show. English
コンビニ konbini conveni(ence store) convenience store English
コンビナート konbināto комбинат (‘’kombinat’’) (meaning ‘combine’) Combine (enterprise) Russian
コンクール konkūru ’’concours’’ a contest, a competition French
コンセント konsento concent(ric plug) power outlet English
コント konto conte a short comedy French
コップ koppu ’’copo’’ a glass or tumbler Portuguese
コラーゲン korāgen ’’Kollagen’’ collagen German
コロッケー korokke ’’croquette’’ croquette, a small fried roll English
コスプレ kosupure cos(tume) play cosplay (a subculture involving dressing up in costumes, especially from manga, anime and video games) English
クラブ or 倶楽部 kurabu club a club or society English
クラクション kurakushon Klaxon horn (on an automobile) English
クランケ kuranke ’’Kranker’’ patient German
クレーム kurēmu claim a complaint English
クリスタル kurisutaru crystal shiny or clear English
キーボード kībōdo keyboard a keyboard English
キャバクラ kyabakura cabaret club hostess club English
キャベツ kyabetsu cabbage cabbage English
キャンペーン kyanpēn campaign a sales campaign or sweepstakes English
キャンピングカー kyanpingu kā ’’Camping-car’’ a recreational vehicle French-made English
キャッチボール kyatchi bōru catch ball the game of catch English
キャッチホン kyatchi hon catch phone call waiting English
キャッチコピー kyatchi kopī catch copy tagline English
キャップ kyappu cap cap English
マグカップ magu kappu mug cup mug English
マイナスドライバー mainasu doraibā minus driver (flathead) screwdriver English
マイ〜 mai~ my Someone’s own. Common examples include ‘’mai būmu’’: personal taste; ‘’mai kã’’: one’s own car; ‘’mai waifu ‘’: one’s wife; ‘’mai hōmū’’: one’s own house; ‘’mai pēsu’’: doing things at one’s own (leisurely) pace, taking one’s time (often somewhat derogatory). Confusingly for English speakers, this can be used to refer to someone ‘’else’s’’ car, wife, home, etc. English
マジックインキ majikku inki Magic Ink (a registered trademark of Uchida Yoko Co., Ltd.) Permanent marker English
マジックテープ majikku tēpu magic tape Velcro English
ママ mama mamá mom Spanish/Portuguese
マンダラ or 曼陀羅 mandara मण्डल (Mandala) circle Sanskrit via Chinese
マニア mania mania enthusiasm, enthusiast English
マンション manshon mansion modern concrete apartment / condominium block English
満タン mantan 満 (‘’man’’, full) + tan(k) full tank (as in the fuel tank of an automobile) Japanese + English
マロン maron ’’marron’’ chestnut, metaphor for brown eyes French
マスコミ masukomi mass communication mass media, the media, the press English
マザコン mazakon mother com(plex)[2] Oedipus complex, or a strong attachment, formed in childhood, to one’s mother, often used derogatorily; “girly man” English
マゾ mazo (sometimes shortened to “M”) ’’masochiste’’ masochist French
メーカー mēkā maker manufacturer English
メール mēru mail e-mail English
メールマガジン mēru magajin mail magazine e-mail newsletter, ezine English
メルヘン meruhen ’’Märchen’’ fairy tale German
ミイラ or 木乃伊 mīra ’’mirra’’ (myrrh: an oil used in preservation) a mummy Portuguese
ミルク miruku milk milk, non-dairy creamer English
ミシン mishin (sewing) machine sewing machine English
モバイル mobairu mobile mobile communications, mobile communications capability, or mobile communications devices, esp. PDAs and personal computers with wireless communications capabilities English
モバメ mobame mobile + mail mobile phone-based mailing list subscription, usually used by entertainers to share their daily activities with fans English
モボ mobo mo(dern) bo(y) 1920s slang for young men adopting western styles and behaviours English
モガ moga mo(dern) gi(rl) 1920s slang for young women adopting western styles and behaviours, flapper English
モーニングコール mōningu kōru morning call wake-up call English
モーニングコート or モーニング mōningu kōto or mōningu morning coat morning coat English
モーニングサービス or モーニング mōningu sābisu morning service breakfast special, complimentary toast, hard-boiled egg et al. that is served at cafes when a cup of coffee is ordered (only seen in some parts of Japan) English
モラトリアム人間 moratoriamu ningen moratorium + 人間 (‘’ningen’’, person, human being) a person who, having completed education and other preparations, delays the transition from student to productive member of society, staying in an uncertain limbo of continued education, part-time work, and parental support (similar to ‘’freeter’’) English + Japanese
モーテル mōteru motel recently called as “love hotel“. Does not have meaning of English “motel” used by tourists with their own vehicles. English
ムーディ mūdi moody nice English
ムーンサルト mūnsaruto moon + ‘’Salto’’ an artistic gymnastics maneuver. Also used to describe a professional wrestling maneuver. English and German
ナイター naitā night + -er a night game English
ナンバーディスプレイ nanbā disupurei number display caller ID English
ナンバープレート nanbā purēto number plate BrE number plate, AmE license plate English
ナトリウム natoriumu ’’Natrium’’ sodium (Na) Latin via German
ニート or NEET nīto Not in Employment, Education or Training underemployed young adults, akin to “フリーター” English
ノイローゼ noirōze Neurose neurosis German
ノークレームノーリターン nō kurēmu nō ritān no claim, no return sold “as is” English
ノルマ noruma норма (‘’norma’’) (meaning ‘standard; norm’) quota, minimum requirement (tasks) Russian
ノート nōto note a notebook English
ニューハーフ nyūhāfu new-half A transgender individual that has undergone a sex change operation. English
オージー ōjī orgy an orgy English
オーバー ōbā over overreaction to a situation or the end of a dating relationship English
オードブル ōdoburu ’’hors-d’œuvre’’ (literally ‘out of work’) hors-d’œuvre French
OB, OG ōbī, ōjī old boy, old girl alumnus, alumna, former student; furthermore used for former sport team members, employees, politicians etc., for former members of any kind of organisation likewise English
オーディエンス ōdiensu audience group of people who participate in a show English
OL ōeru O.L. (office lady) female office worker, usually in a clerical or support job English
オフ ofu off a sale at a store; e.g., a “big summer off” (=big summer sale) English
オナニー onanī ’’Onanie’’ masturbation (see Onan) German
オンリーワン onrīwan only one (adjective) ‘’one of a kind’’ or ‘’unique’’; e.g., オンリーワン技術 (‘’~gijutsu’’: “only one technology”) or オンリーワン商品 (‘’~shōhin’’: “only one products”) meaning ‘’one of a kind’’ technology or products English
オペ ope ’’OP’’ (short for ‘’Operation’’) surgical operation, minor surgery German
オープンカー ōpun kā open car convertible (automobile) English
オーライ ōrai a(ll) righ(t) all right, OK English
オルゴール orugōru ’’orgel’’ a music box or any instrument that operates off of a music roll such as a calliope Dutch
オートバイ ōtobai auto bi(cycle) motorcycle, motorbike English
パイン pain pine(apple) pineapple English
パーマ pāma perma(nent wave) perm English
パン pan ’’pão’’, ‘’pan’’ bread Portuguese
パネリスト panerisuto panelist panelist English
パンク panku punc(ture) flat tire English
パンスト pansuto pan(ty) + sto(cking) pantyhose English
パソコン pasokon perso(nal) com(puter) PC English
パーソナルコンピューター pāsonaru konpyūtā personal computer personal computer English
パンツ pantsu pants underpants (American English), pants (British English) English (British)
パパ papa papà or papá dad Italian or Spanish
ペチカ pechika печка (‘’pechka’’) (meaning ‘little oven’) Russian stove Russian
ペアルック pea rukku pair look matching outfits (usually between a couple) English
ペニス penisu ’’penis’’ the penis Latin
ペンション penshon ’’pension’’ a resort hotel / chalet / cottage French
ペーパーカンパニー pēpā kanpanī paper company dummy company, shell company English
ペーパードライバー pēpā doraibā paper driver a person who has a driver’s license but does not usually drive (i.e.: a driver only on paper) English
ペーパーテスト pēpā tesuto paper test written examination/test English
ピエロ piero ’’pierrot’’ a clown French
ピーマン pīman ’’piment’’ sweet bell pepper French
ピッケル pikkeru ’’(Eis)pickel’’ (meaning ‘ice axe’) ice axe German
ピンチ pinchi (in a) pinch potentially disastrous situation English
ピンセット pinsetto ’’pincet’’ tweezers Dutch
ポエマー poemā poem + -er a poet English and Spanish
ポケベル pokeberu pocke(t) bell beeper, pager English
ポケモン Pokémon pocke(t) mon(ster) Pokémon English
ポンプ ponpu ’’pomp’’ pump Dutch
ポシェット poshetto ’’pochette’’ a small bag French
ポスト posuto post a mailbox (US), a postbox (UK) English
プラスアルファ purasu arufa plus alpha (in Greek: Άλφα) (a misreading of “+ X”) in addition, a little bit more, with something else English and Greek
プラスドライバー purasu doraibā plus driver Phillips screwdriver English
プレイガイド purei gaido play + guide (theater) ticket agency English
プリクラ purikura Print Club (trademark) photo booth#purikura English
プロ puro professional describes a business professional or professional sports English
プロフィール purofīru profil a profile French
プロレス puroresu pro(fessional) wrest(ling) professional wrestling English
プッシュホン pusshu hon push phone push-button telephone. A genericized trademark first registered by the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation (電電公社, Dendenkōsha, now NTT) English
ラブホテル rabu hoteru love hotel love hotel (hotel used as a private place for couples to have sexual contact) English
ライバル raibaru rival A fellow competitor or an enemy English
ライブアクション raibu akushon live action animated or comic form stories made into TV shows/movies involving real actors. It’s the opposite of komikarizu English
ライブハウス raibu hausu live house club with live music, rock bar English
ライフライン raifurain lifeline infrastructure English
ラッコ rakko ’’rakko’’ a sea otter Ainu
ラムネ ramune lemona(de) Ramune (a lemon-lime soft drink; hard, powdery candy like Rockets or Smarties) English
ランドセル randoseru ’’ransel’’ a hard schoolbag, worn on the back, carried by young children to school Dutch
ランニングホームラン ranningu hōmu ran running home run an inside-the-park home run English
ランニングシャツ ranningu shatsu running shirt a sleeveless T-shirt English
レジュメ rejume résumé a resume, an outline French
レントゲン rentogen ’’Röntgen‘’ X-ray, X-ray medical imaging German
レースクイーン rēsu kuīn race queen umbrella girls English
レストラン resutoran ’’restaurant’’ restaurant French
リベンジ ribenji revenge return match, rematch, chance for redemption after a failed attempt English
リーチ rīchi reach One step away from winning. Usually used in bingo. English
リードオンリーメンバー rīdo onrī menbā read-only member an internet lurker, thought to be a pun on “read-only memory English
リフォーム rifōmu reform remodel, renovation (as in a building) English
リモコン rimokon remo(te) con(trol) remote control English
リンクフリー rinku furī link free free to link English
リニューアル rinyūaru renewal remodeling English
リサイクルショップ risaikuru shoppu recycle shop secondhand shop (selling used or unwanted furniture, household appliances, housewares, and clothes; slightly different from non-profit or charity thrift shops in that they are fundamentally for-profit shops and perceived as one way to help reduce trash) English
リストラ risutora restru(cturing) (noun) restructuring, but with emphasis on lowering headcounts as in downsizing, termination as a redundancy; (verb) to downsize, lay off or terminate as a redundancy. When used in the passive (〜される: ‘’~sareru’’), to get or have been made redundant, downsized (out of a job) English
ロードショー rōdo shō roadshow (theatrical release) premiere, especially of a film English
ロケーションハンティング, ロケハン rokēshon hantingu, rokehan location hunting location scout English
ロマン roman ’’roman’’ novel, something that rouses one’s dreams / longings French
ロマンスグレー romansu gurē romance grey silver-gray hair English
ロマンスカー romansu kā ’’Romancecar‘’, a series of limited express trains operated by the Odakyu Electric Railway deluxe train English
ロンパリ ronpari Lon(don) + ‘’Paris’’ slang for Strabismus (crosseyed, wandering eye), derived from the image of one eye looking toward London, and the other eye looking toward Paris English, French
ロープウェー rōpuwē ropeway ropeway English
ロリコン rorikon Loli(ta) com(plex) sexual attraction to fictional and real underage girls, or ephebophilia. (reborrowed into English to refer a genre of manga-style sexual artwork involving childlike female characters) English
ロスタイム rosu taimu loss time added time, additional time English
ルー ’’roux’’ roux, most commonly used in describing the sauce of the popular dish, curry rice French
ルポ rupo repo(rtage) Reportage French
リュックサック ryukkusakku ’’Rucksack’’ backpack, Rucksack German
サービス sābisu service service, often used to describe something as being free of charge English
サボる saboru ’’sabo(tage)’’ + ‘’-ru’’ (Japanese verb ending) to slack off, to shirk one’s duties French and Japanese
サド sado (sometimes shortened to “S”) ’’sadiste’’ sadist French
サイドブレーキ saido burēki side brake hand brake, parking brake, emergency brake English
サイダー saidā cider a kind of soda unrelated to actual cider English
サイン sain sign signature, autograph English
サインペン sainpen sign pen marker, Trade name of Pentel‘s English
サンドイッチ or サンド sandoitchi, sando sand(wich) sandwich English
サンドバッグ sandobaggu sandbag punching bag English
サラダ sarada ’’salada’’ or salad salad Portuguese or English
サラリーマン sararīman salaried man salaryman: a salaried office/white collar worker English
セックス sekkusu sex sexual intercourse English
セフレ sefure se(x) + frie(nd) casual sexual partner English
セクハラ sekuhara sex(ual) hara(ssment) sexual harassment English
セメダイン semedain, Cemedine ceme(nt) dyne glue, adhesive. A genericized trademark of Cemedine Co., Ltd. English
センス sensu sense understanding of subtleties English
セレブ serebu celeb(rity) used to refer to a rich person, whether or not they are famous English
セツナ or 剎那 setsuna क्षण (ksana) moment Sanskrit via Chinese
シャボン玉 shabondama Old Spanish xabon’' + Japanese 玉 (‘’tama’’, ball) soap bubble Spanish + Japanese
シャープペンシル or シャーペン shāpu penshiru or shāpen shar(p) pencil or shar(p) pen(cil) (referring to Sharp Corporation, a manufacturer of mechanical pencils) mechanical pencil English
シーエム shīemu C.M. (Commercial Message) television commercial English
シール shīru seal sticker, decal English
シルバーシート shirubā shīto silver seat (referring to the silver hair of elderly passengers) priority seating on public transportation English
シュークリーム shūkurīmu ’’chou (à la) crème’’ a cream puff French, English
ソフト sofuto soft(ware) video game console or computer software; also used to describe tasks or work (such as design) requiring imagination, foresight, and intuition English
ソフトクリーム sofuto kurīmu or softcream soft (ice) cream soft serve (ice cream) English
ソーラーシステム sōrā shisutemu solar system a solar battery English
すべた or スベタ subeta ’’espada’’ unattractive woman (spade) Portuguese
スイートルーム suīto rūmu suite room a suite in a hotel English
スカイ sukai sky a bib, said to come from the name of an American clothing maker who sold bibs English
スケボー sukebō ska(te)bo(ard) skateboard English
スケルトン sukeruton skeleton translucent English
スキー sukī ski used as a noun to refer to skiing English
スキンシップ sukinshippu skin + -ship skinship (bonding through physical contact) English
スコップ sukoppu ’’schop’’ trowel, spade, shovel Dutch
スマート sumāto smart slim, stylish, well-dressed, cool, handsome English
スマホ sumaho sma(rt) + (p)ho(ne) smartphone English
スムーズ sumūzu smooth (transaction) When a plan or transaction happens without incident English
スーパー sūpā super(market) supermarket English
スパッツ, スパッツタイツ supattsu, supattsu taitsu spats, spats tights tights (US), leggings English
スペル superu spell used as a noun to mean “spelling English
スピン supin spin a ribbon or tassel on a book English
スポイト supoito ’’spuit’’ syringe, dropper Dutch
スリーサイズ surī saizu three size three primary female body measurements (bust, waist, hips) English
ストライキ or スト sutoraiki or suto strike or st(rike) labor strike English
ストレートティー sutorēto tī straight tea black tea without milk or lemon English
ストーブ sutōbu stove space heater English
スーツアクター sūtsu akutā suits actor suit actor, an actor who performs wearing a cartoon-character costume English
タバコ, たばこ or 煙草 tabako ’’tabaco’’ tobacco, cigarette Portuguese
タイムオーバー taimu ōbā time over when a time limit has been reached English
タイムリー taimurī timely (hit) a clutch hit (in baseball), on time English
タオルケット taoru ketto towelket (towel + (blan)ket) a type of blanket made of a material similar to a beach or bath towel English
タレント tarento talent TV personality/celebrity English
テーマ tēma ’’Thema’’ theme German
テンキー tenkī ten key numeric keypad English
てんぷら or 天ぷら tenpura ’’tempura’’ Apparent conflation of Portuguese tempero’' (“seasoning”) and tempora’' (“Ember days“, a Catholic holiday). See also Tempura#Etymology. Portuguese
テンション tenshon tension a state of excitement English
テレビ terebi televi(sion) television English
テレビゲーム terebi gēmu televi(sion) game video game English
テレフォン terefon telephone a system that converts acoustic vibrations to electrical signals in order to transmit sound, over a distance using wire or radio. English
テレカ tereka tele(phone) ca(rd) prepaid card for using public telephones English
ティーンエージャー tīn’ējā Teenager A person in their teens English
トーチカ tōchika точка (‘’tochka’’) (meaning ‘point’) bunker Russian
トイレ(ット) toire(tto) toile(t) toilet, bathroom, washroom, restroom English
トンカツ tonkatsu ”ton,” the on’yomi reading for 豚 (pork) + “katsu” from the English word “cutlet” pork cutlet English
トラブル(noun), トラブる(verb) toraburu trouble (noun) (legal) trouble, a dispute or altercation; (verb) to encounter or experience trouble, to break down or not function as expected (e.g., a device) English
トランプ toranpu trump(s) playing cards English
トレーナー torēnā trainer a sweat shirt English
トレーニングパンツ torēningu pantsu training pants pants for toddlers or babies; diaper English
ツイッター tsuittā twitter twitter apps English
ウィンカー or ウインカー winkā or uinkā winker turn signal, a.k.a. blinker or indicator on an automobile English
ウーパールーパー ūpārūpā or WuperRuper (s)uper an axolotl English
ヴァージンロード vājin rōdo virgin road the aisle (in a Western-style or Christian wedding ceremony, as followed by the bridal procession) English
ワイドショー waido shō wide show talk show English
ワイシャツ or Yシャツ wai shatsu Y shirt (modification of “white shirt”) dress shirt (of any color) English
ワンパターン wan patān one pattern of (artificial or boring) uniformity or conformity, lacking of (spontaneous) variation. Used to describe behavior and responses as well as objects. Being “in a rut” English
ワンピース wan pīsu one piece (a single-piece) dress English
ワープロ wāpuro wor(d) pro(cessor) word processor English
ウォシュレット woshuretto washlet (wash+(toi)let) a toilet with a built-in bidet (a genericized trademark of TOTO Ltd.) English
ヨット yotto yacht a sailboat or yacht English
ヤンエグ yan egu youn(g) ex(ecutive) young executive English
ヨード yōdo ’’Jod’’ iodine German
ヨードチンキ yōdo chinki ’’Jodtinktur’’ tincture of iodine German
ユニットバス yunitto basu unit bath modular bath, prefabricated bath English
Uターンラッシュ yūtān rasshu u-turn rush the rush of traffic and people, and attendant traffic jams and crowding of transportation facilities, that occurs as everyone returns home after extended holidays, esp. New Year’s, Golden Week, and the summer o-bon week. English
ザイル zairu ’’Seil’’ (meaning ‘rope’) rope (used in a climbing context, in preference to the general term ‘rōpu’) German
ゼミナール or ゼミ zemināru or zemi ’’Seminar’’ or ‘’Semi(nar)’’ seminar German
ゼン or 禅 zen ध्यान (Dhyāna) a meditation Sanskrit via Chinese
ゼロ zero ’’zéro’’ zero French
トマト tomato tomato tomato Nahuatl
ズボン zubon ’’jupon’’ (meaning petticoat) trousers (British English), pants (American English) French

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Depachika". Japan National Tourism Organization. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  2. ^ Takie Sugiyama Lebra; Henshall, Kenneth G. (November 2000). "Review of Dimensions of Japanese Society: Gender, Margins and Mainstream by Kenneth G. Henshall". The Journal of Asian Studies. The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 59, No. 4. 59 (4): 1019–1020. doi:10.2307/2659245. JSTOR 2659245.


  • Takashi Ichikawa, et al. (1998). Sanseidō New Modern Dictionary (三省堂現代新国語辞典, Sanseidō-gendai-shin-kokugo-jiten), Tokyo, Japan: Sanseido Co., Ltd. ISBN 4-385-14034-0.

External links[edit]