That's a Japanese Word?

I always thought emoji was an English word that was an abbreviated version of emoticon. The beauty of jukogo.

Do people have other words that they thought were originally in English or another language but happened to be in Japanese?


Tycoon (大君). That one was a surprise …


You’ve seen this already at your level, but I hadn’t known skosh was from すこし, 少し.

There are a bazillion synonyms for small and large, I had just assumed it had archaic origins related to pirates, farm animals, blacksmithing, or some such.


This is going to sound silly… Wait, it IS silly! Anyway, when I was a kid, I thought Sayonara was a Spanish word. There were so many movies and T.V shows where characters would say good bye in different languages, and I’d always hear Sayonara after words like adios and hasta la vista, so I thought they were all the same language. I didn’t know it was a Japanese word until I started studying Japanese :flushed:


Here’s a list for wikipedia of English words of Japanese origin. Many are obvious, most I didn’t even know were used in English perhaps due to the technical nature of the words.


lol, well you’re not the only one. I thought that too until just a couple years ago.


I love the way you talk.

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Most of these are just name of dishes or things that don’t have an English equivalent though, can they really be counted as “English” words then? They’re just romaji of the Japanese words.


Actually emoji and emoticon while related concepts are not the same thing…

And emoji were used in Japan long before (at the end of the nineties) the word appeared in English.

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Always thought of as an English fella.

I’m not the only one!!! Hallejuah! Everyone who has heard my story has always laughed at me…

If you can use them in English and people know what you mean… then they’re English words.


台風 blew my mind when I first learned it. And then it disappointed me because I thought it would be spelled 大風.


Yeah, I’m surprised there aren’t more of us. I googled it, because I was actually going to post the exact same thing, and I didn’t get any relevant results. I don’t know what the shows were that I got that impression from, but we must have been watching the same ones.

Also, another one for me is a Kanban board. (This is a visualization aid that some software development groups use to help organize work.) I should have figured it was a foreign word given how funny it sounds, but I guess I was just too lazy to make the connection.


While on the topic of issue tracking in software development, here is the origin of JIRA (quoted from Wikipedia).

Although normally styled JIRA, the product name is not an acronym, but a truncation of Gojira, the Japanese name for Godzilla, itself a reference to Jira’s main competitor, Bugzilla.


Didn’t actually read the list, I just searched for it and posted it here. Thanks for pointing that out though.

How many people? Cause most people probably don’t know 3/4 of that list. If I go outside right now an ask 20 people what “Bunraku” is, I am going to bet exactly 0 of them know. Probably 500 people before I find someone who knows what a 琴 is just by the name “Koto”

Those were the first two I saw.


Can they look it up in an English dictionary? That’s the cutoff I assume the article is using. I didn’t look at it.

EDIT: Also, maybe I’m biased, but I used to fool around on electronic keyboards all the time when I was a kid, so I knew what a koto was. At least, I knew it was an instrument and what sound it made. I guess not everyone does that.

Honcho 班長 was a surprise to me. It always sounded kinda Spanish or something to me :slight_smile: (As is probably obvious at this point, I don’t speak Spanish!)

Tycoon and emoji were also surprising to me when I found out. Especially since I had assumed emoji shared its origin with emoticon :slight_smile:

EDIT: Also, isn’t typhoon a word borrowed from Chinese into Japanese, and then into English?


First thing on that list, bokeh, I had no idea was Japanese.

Although kombucha isn’t on that list, kombu is, so I assume kombucha is Japanese, which I also didn’t know. I don’t know what language I thought it was.

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