Skip to main content

How did Japanese words enter the English language?

Oxford English Dictionary editor, John Simpson, explains how Japanese words entered English in three distinct historical phases.

Some commonly used English words of Japanese origin

Business/Politicstycoon, Shogun, mikado

Weather: typhoon, tsunami

Religion: Zen, Shinto 

Clothing: kimono, obi

Food: sushi, satsuma, miso, tempura, saki

Art/Culture/Design: bonsai, anime, origami, karaoke, haiku, manga, karate, judo, aikido, jujutsu, futon

Origin: 布団 (futon)
First known use: 1876
There is a more extensive list here, though this includes specialist words not commonly used by English speakers.

A version of this post is included in the English FAQ Teaching Pack  Download for only £1.99


Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 most quoted lines of poetry in English?

Mark Forsyth (The Inky Fool) has analysed Google Search query result data for lines of verse requested online. Here is the Top Ten:

What is the origin of the word alphabet?

Why is English not the official language of England?

58 countries list English as an official language - but not the UK. The world's lingua franca or second language is not, technically, the 'official' language of its birthplace. The de factoofficiallanguage of the United Kingdom is English,[3][4] which is spoken by approximately 59.8 million residents, or 98% of the population, over the age of three.[1][2][10][11][12] An estimated 700,000 people speak Welsh in the UK,[13] an official language in Wales