Glossary of Japanese words of Portuguese origin

Many Japanese words of Portuguese origin entered the Japanese language when Portuguese Jesuit priests introduced Christian ideas, Western science, technology and new products to the Japanese during the Muromachi period (15th and 16th centuries).

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach Japan and the first to establish direct trade between Japan and Europe, in 1542. During the 16th and 17th century, Portuguese Jesuits had undertaken a great work of Catechism, that ended only with religious persecution in the early Edo period (Tokugawa Shogunate). The Portuguese were the first to translate the Japanese to a Western language, in the Nippo Jisho dictionary (日葡辞書, literally the "Japanese-Portuguese Dictionary") or "Vocabulario da Lingoa de Iapam" compiled by Portuguese Jesuit João Rodrigues, and published in Nagasaki in 1603, who also wrote a grammar "Arte da Lingoa de Iapam" (日本大文典, nihon daibunten). The dictionary of Japanese-Portuguese explained 32,000 Japanese words translated into Portuguese. Most of these words refer to the products and customs that first came to Japan via the Portuguese traders.

List of loanwords

Many of the first words which were introduced and entered the Japanese language from Portuguese and Dutch are written in kanji or hiragana, rather than katakana, which is the more common way to write loanwords in Japanese in modern times. Kanji versions of the words are ateji, characters that are "fitted" or "applied" to the words by the Japanese, based on either the pronunciation or the meaning of the word.

The indicates the word is archaic and no longer in use.

Japanese Rōmaji Japanese Script Japanese Meaning Pre-modern Portuguese Modern Portuguese English Notes
arukōru アルコール alcohol alcool álcool alcohol originally from Arabic, term entered Japanese via the West, possibly from Dutch
bateren 伴天連 / 破天連 a missionary priest (mainly from Jesuit) padre padre priest used in early Christianity
battera ばってら kind of sushi bateira - (barco) boat named after its shape
bīdama ビー玉 marbles (spheric-shaped) ---- berlindes, bola-de-gude, bolinha-de-gude ---- abbrev. of bīdoro + tama (Japanese: 'ball').
cf. bīdoro
bīdoro ビードロ a certain traditional type of glass artifact vidro vidro glass
birōdo ビロード / 天鵞絨 velvet veludo veludo velvet berubetto (from English velvet) is also used today.
bōro ボーロ / ぼうろ a kind of biscuit (tiny bead-like) bolo bolo cake keiki (from English cake) is most used today.
botan ボタン / 釦 / 鈕 button botão botão button
buranko ブランコ swing balancé, baloiço baloiço swing
charumera チャルメラ small double-reed wind instrument charamela charamela (caramelo, "caramel", is cognate) shawm (cf. the cognate chalumeau) formerly played by Japanese noodle vendors
chokki チョッキ waistcoat (UK); vest (U.S.); Jacket jaque colete, jaqueta waistcoat (UK); vest (U.S.); Jacket Besuto (from English vest) is common today.
furasuko フラスコ flask frasco frasco flask
iesu or iezusu イエス, イエズス Jesus Jesu Jesus Jesus More possibly of Dutch origin, as in Dutch Jezus, j is pronounced like the English y. Can also mean "yes" (from English), but with a different intonation.
igirisu イギリス / 英吉利 the United Kingdom inglez inglês English (adj); Englishman
iruman イルマン / 入満 / 伊留満 / 由婁漫 missionary next in line to become a priest irmão irmão brother used in early Christianity
jōro じょうろ / 如雨露 watering can jarro jarro jug, watering can "possibly from Portuguese" (Kōjien dictionary)
juban/jiban じゅばん / 襦袢 undervest for kimonos gibão Antiga veste sem mangas. undervest French form jupon led to zubon (trousers).
Kabocha カボチャ, 南瓜 Kabocha squash Cabaça abóbora Kabocha squash, Japanese pumpkin
kanakin/kanekin 金巾 / かなきん / かねきん shirting, percale canequim canequim unbleached muslin/calico a textile business jargon
kandeya カンデヤ oil lamp candeia, candela vela, candeia candle extinct, as oil lamps went obsolete. Kantera from Dutch kandelaar was also used.
kapitan 甲比丹 / 甲必丹 captain (of ships from Europe in The Age of Discovery) capitão capitão captain extinct word - the English form kyaputen (captain) is now used
kappa 合羽 raincoat capa capa (de chuva) raincoat, coat reinkōto (from English raincoat) is prevalent nowadays.
karuta かるた / 歌留多 karuta cards cartas (de jogar) cartas (de jogar) (playing) cards a traditional type of playing cards, largely different from the modern worldwide ones
kasutera, kasutēra, kasuteira カステラ Kind of sponge cake[1] (Pão de) Ló (Pão de) Ló (Bread of) Ló Theories cite Portuguese castelo (castle) or the Kingdom of Castile (Castela in Portuguese).
kirishitan キリシタン / 切支丹 / 吉利支丹 (Also written in the more negative forms 鬼理死丹 and 切死丹 after Christianity was banned by the Tokugawa Shogunate Christian people in 16th and 17th centuries (who were severely persecuted by the Shogunate) christão cristão Christian Today's Christian people are Kurisuchan (from English Christian).
kirisuto キリスト / 基督 Christ Christo Cristo Christ
kompeitō 金米糖 / 金平糖 / 金餅糖 Kind of star-shaped candy confeito confeito confection, candies (related to confetti)
koppu コップ cup copo copo cup
kurusu クルス cross cruz cruz cross used in early Christianity, now kurosu (cross) from English
kyarameru / karameru キャラメル / カラメル caramel caramelo caramelo caramel
manto マント cloak manto manto Cloak
marumero マルメロ quince marmelo marmelo quince
meriyasu メリヤス / 莫大小 a kind of knit textile medias meias hosiery, knitting
mīra ミイラ / 木乃伊 mummy mirra mirra myrrh Originally, mummies embalmed using myrrh.
oranda オランダ / 和蘭(陀) / 阿蘭陀 The Netherlands, Holland Hollanda Holanda The Netherlands, Holland
orugan オルガン organ orgão orgão organ
pan パン bread pão pão bread Often wrongly connected to the Spanish pan or the French pain, both with the same meaning. The word was introduced into Japan by Portuguese missionaries.[2]
pin kara kiri made ピンからキリまで running the whole gamut, jumble of wheat and tares (pinta, cruz) (pinta, cruz) (dot, cross) literally 'from pin to kiri'
rasha ラシャ / 羅紗 a kind of wool woven textile raxa – (feltro) felt
rozario ロザリオ rosary rosario rosário rosary
sabato サバト Saturday sábado sábado Saturday
saboten サボテン / 仙人掌 cactus sabão sabão soap The derivation is said to come from the soap-like feature of its juice, although there are controversies.
cf. shabon
sarasa 更紗 chintz saraça chintz
shabon シャボン (soap) sabão sabão soap usually seen in shabon-dama ('soap bubbles') in modern Japanese
subeta スベタ (an insulting word for women) espada espada sword Probably from playing cards, change history of meaning is uncertain.
tabako タバコ / 煙草 / たばこ tobacco, cigarette tobaco tabaco tobacco, cigarette
totan トタン / 塗炭 galvanized sheet iron (e.g. corrugated roofing material) tutanaga Corrugated galvanised iron
tempura 天麩羅 / 天婦羅 deep-fried seafood/vegetables tempero, temperar;[3][4] tempora tempero, temperar; tempora seasoning, to season; times of abstinence from meat
zabon ざぼん / 朱欒 / 香欒 shaddock zamboa zamboa shaddock


Look up ありがとう in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

It is often suggested that the Japanese word arigatō derives from the Portuguese obrigado, both of which mean "Thank you", but evidence clearly indicates purely Japanese origin. The Japanese phrase arigatō gozaimasu is a polite form of arigatō. This is a form of an adjective, arigatai, for which written records exist dating back to the Man'yōshū, well before Japanese contact with Portugal.[5]

The full derivation is arigatō, the “u” sound change of arigataku < arigataku, the attributive form of arigatai, < arigatai < arigatashi < ari + katashi. Ari is a verb meaning "to be" and katashi is an adjective meaning "difficult". The original meaning of "arigatashi" was "difficult to be", i.e. that the listener's generosity or behavior is "rare" and thus "special".



Other references

See also

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