Glossary of Japanese words of Dutch origin

Painting by Kawahara Keiga: Arrival of a Dutch Ship. Philipp Franz von Siebold at Dejima with his Japanese wife Kusumoto Otaki and their baby-daughter Kusumoto Ine observing a Dutch ship towed into Nagasaki harbour using a teresukoppu (telescope).

Japanese words of Dutch origin started to develop when the Dutch East India Company initiated trading in Japan from the factory of Hirado in 1609. In 1640, the Dutch were transferred to Dejima, and from then on until 1854 remained the only Westerners allowed access to Japan, during Japan's "sakoku" seclusion period.

Numerous exchanges occurred, leading to a branch of Western learning in Japan known as rangaku (蘭学), or "Dutch learning" where the "ran" (蘭) in rangaku comes from "Oranda" the Japanese word for Holland, and means Dutch while "gaku" (学) is of Sino-Japanese origin and means "Learning".[1] In the process, a number of terms were adopted from Dutch into the Japanese language. At one point, some 3,000 words are thought to have been used, especially in the areas of technical and scientific vocabulary.[1] About 160 such words of Dutch origin remain in use today in standard Japanese.[1]

Japanese transliteration (rōmaji) Japanese term (kanji or kana) Dutch term English term(s) Details
arukari [2] アルカリ alkali alkali From Arabic, through Dutch.
arukōru [1] アルコール alcohol alcohol From Arabic, through Dutch.
asubesuto [2] アスベスト asbest asbestos From Greek, through Dutch.
bīru [3] ビール, 麦酒 bier beer
bisuketto [1] ビスケット beschuit biscuit Reinforcement of Portuguese biscoito.
bōru [1] ボール boor drill, bore After 1720.
buriki [2] ブリキ blik tin
chifusu [2] チフス tyfus typhus From Greek, through Dutch.
dansu ダンス dans dance
doitsu ドイツ Duits German
dokku ドック dok (dry) dock
dontaku [1] ドンタク zondag sunday Also occasionally found as ゾンタク (zontaku). Appears from the early Meiji period, after 1868.
doronken [2] ドロンケン dronken drunk
ekisu [2] エキス extract extract Shortened from エキストラクト (ekisutorakuto).
erekishiteito [1] エレキシテイト elektriciteit electricity Obsolete (replaced by 電気).
erekiteru [2] エレキテル corruption of elektriciteit elekiter A type of generator of static electricity used for electric experiments in the 18th century
ēteru [1] エーテル ether ether From Greek, through Dutch.
garasu [3] ガラス, 硝子 glas glass, as in a window
gasu [2] ガス, 瓦斯 gas gas
giyaman [1] ギヤマン diamant diamond From Greek, through Dutch.
gomu [1] ゴム gom, gum rubber
gorofukuren [2] ゴロフクレン, 呉絽服連 grofgrein grosgrain
hamu [1] ハム ham ham
handon 半ドン, ハンドン from the "zon" in zondag half-day; holiday Compound of Japanese han (half) and dontaku. This word is no longer commonly used in Japanese.
hatoron [2] ハトロン, パトロン patroon pattern
henrūda [2] ヘンルーダ wijnruit Common Rue
hetto [2] ヘット vet beef tallow Cognate with English fat.
hisuterii ヒステリー hysterie hysteria
hukku [1] フック hoek hook Cognate with English hook.
infuruenza [1] インフルエンザ influenza influenza After 1720. More likely borrowed from English. The term originated in Italian, and became common worldwide in the 18th century via English.
inki [2] インキ inkt ink
kamitsure [1] カミツレ kamille camomile From Greek, through Dutch. After 1720.
kantera [2] カンテラ candela, kandelaar candela
kapitan [1] カピタン, 甲比丹 kapitein captain More likely derived from Portuguese capitão.
karan カラン kraan tap (UK) / faucet (Am.) Cognate with English crane, from the resemblance of the bird's neck to a faucet pipe.
kari [2] カリ, カリウム kali, kalium potassium
karuki [2] カルキ kalk lime (the chemical), chlorinated lime Cognate with English chalk.
katēteru [2] カテーテル katheter catheter From Greek, through Dutch.
kechin [1] ケチン ketting chain After 1720. Now obsolete (replaced by (kusari)).
kiruku [2] キルク kurk cork
kōhī [3] コーヒー, 珈琲 koffie coffee From Arabic, through Dutch.
kokku [2] コック kok cook
koppu [1] コップ kop cup Reinforcement of Portuguese copo.
konpasu [1] コンパス kompas compass
korera [2] コレラ cholera cholera From Greek, through Dutch.
kureosōto [2] クレオソート creosoot creosote
koruku [2] コルク kurk cork
madorosu [1] マドロス matroos sailor
masuto [1] マスト mast mast
mesu [1] メス mes scalpel After 1720.
moruhine [1] モルヒネ morfine morphine After 1720.
morumotto[4] モルモット marmot Guinea pig; marmot
oburāto [2] オブラート oblaat oblate Also listed in some Japanese sources as deriving from the cognate German term Oblate.
orugōru [3] オルゴール (orgel) muziekdoos (organ) music box
penki [4] ペンキ pek, pik house paint
pesuto [1] ペスト pest black death After 1720.
pinto [4] ピント punt focus Shortened from the longer term brandpunt.
pisutoru [3] ピストル pistool pistol
ponpu [1] ポンプ pomp pump After 1720.
ponzu [2] ポン酢 pons ponzu The Dutch term pons for the beverage was already obsolescent by 1864, and was eventually superseded by the term punsch or punch.
randoseru [2] ランドセル ransel backpack From German Ränzel or Low German rensel, through Dutch.
ranpu [2] ランプ, 洋灯 lamp lamp From Greek, through Dutch.
retoruto [2] レトルト retort retort
renzu [2] レンズ lens lens
safuran [2] サフラン saffraan saffron
saten [2] サテン satijn satin
seimi [2] セイミ, 舎密 chemie chemistry Now obsolete, replaced by 化学 (kagaku).
shian [2] シアン cyaan cyan
shiroppu [2] シロップ siroop syrup
sukoppu [4] スコップ schop spade, shovel Cognate with English scoop.
supoito [2] スポイト spuit syringe Cognate with English spout.
tarumomētoru [1] タルモメートル thermometer thermometer From French, through Dutch. After 1720. Now obsolete (replaced by 体温計 (taionkei))
teresukoppu [1] テレスコップ telescoop telescope From Italian and Modern Latin, through Dutch. After 1720
yojiumu [2] ヨジウム jodium iodine
zukku [2] ズック doek canvas Cognate with English duck (“piece of cloth”).

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Language contact in Japan: a socio-linguistic history by Leo Loveday, p.54-55
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 Sanseido dual dictionary
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Dutch-Japanese Relations," Netherlands Consulate General at Osaka-Kobe
  4. 1 2 3 4 Gleeson Introduction to written Japanese, katakana p.36

External links

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