The Ultimate Veggie Showdown! You Won't Believe Who Wins

OK so today I learned the word ナス :eggplant:

Anyone have any idea where this word comes from? Racking my brains trying to think what language this might be borrowed from.

Bonus! ジャガイモ :potato: also has me confused. :thinking:

Enlighten me with your knowledge


Japanese…I think?

Japanese…I think?

Just because they are often written in katakana doesnt mean they are non japanese, if thats what you’re implying.


It’s the reading of the kanji form 茄子, sometimes also なすび. There’s a theory that it might come from 夏の実 (なつのみ), literally “fruit of summer”, though noone’s entirely sure. It was first seen in print in the 1400s, so a fair while ago.

This one’s simpler - it’s ジャガタラ + 芋 = Jakarta potato, because it was first introduced to Japan via the Dutch East Indies.


:exploding_head: :exploding_head: :exploding_head: :exploding_head:

Borrowing inception of borrowing



Animals, veggies, and fruit and such are often written in katakana for reasons that I’m sure are really interesting and go back at least a couple decades


The kanji used in plant and animal names are usually very rare and not worth learning. Someone made the comparison that writing an animal/plant name in kanji is like using it’s common name, and writing it in katakana is like using it’s scientific name.

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The kanji used in plant and animal names are usually very rare and totally worth learning if you like that kind of thing. :+1:


This analogy feels weird, especially in the context of your first sentence. When was the last time you said “Malus domestica” in English instead of “apple”?

It’s a comparison, not exactly the same thing. In English it would be wierd to say Canis lupus familiaris, but Japanese is not English, and therefore doesn’t follow the same rules. In English ‘monarch butterfly’ is much easier to remember than Danaus plexippus, and in Japanese it’s the opposite, オオカバマダラ is easier than 大樺斑.

Well, scientific names in Japanese are in katakana, though. 人 is a person but ヒト, as in ヒトゲノム, is used for Homo sapiens.

I do agree with @Leebo that learning stuff like 青啄木鳥 is completely useless and thus necessary.


Heh, plexippus. Maybe we should be using that. :stuck_out_tongue:

If the Japanese Wikipedia is anything to go by, they also use “homo sapiens”, though no idea what contexts.

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When you need to distinguish between different hominids. If you go to the ヒト族 page (“Homo”) you will get others like ホモ・ネアンデルターレンシス. None of those other members are technically ヒト, though (according to the wikipedia page you mentioned).

This! Marvelous

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I just learned a whole bunch about vegetables, butterflies, and homo sapiens within the span of 5 minutes.