Words of Japanese origin

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Many Japanese borrowings in English are directly related to Japan, belonging to such semantic fields as Japanese food (e.g., edamame, gyoza, panko, ramen, surimi, umami), Japanese sports (aikido, judo, jujitsu, karate, sumo), and Japanese arts and culture (kimono, manga, kabuki, raku). Others have a less transparent connection to their country of origin—many of us who speak English may not even realize that when we talk about head honchos or business tycoons, or of a strong tsunami or a zen attitude, we are actually using words loaned to us by the Japanese. 

Excerpt taken from the OED blog post, ‘From anime to zen: Japanese words in the OED’ which explores the history of Japanese loanwords in English
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Words of Japanese origin recently recorded in the OED

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World Englishes

  • E.g. Philippine English, Hong Kong English, Ugandan English
  • e.g. bammy, skinship, bunny hug
  • e.g. an informal social gathering, a street vendor
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Editors and consultants for words of Japanese origin

The OED works in partnership with external experts from or in Japan to ensure that our entries for words of Japanese origin draw from local knowledge and expertise and reflect the everyday reality and distinctive identity of the Japanese-speaking community.

Japanese resources: from the OED webinar series

The Oxford English Dictionary for Japanese users: resources to support teaching and academic research

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Japanese resources: from the OED blog

Japanese words continued to trickle slowly into English from then until the early 19th century. The now familiar words bentokatana, miso, mochi, sake, shogun, and tatami were all first used in English in the 1600s, and the still common words hiragana, koi, samurai, and tofu entered the language in the 1700s and early 1800s. Then came the late 19th century and the trickle of Japanese loanwords became a steady stream. 

Excerpt from OED blog post ‘From anime to zen: Japanese words in the OED


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