LESSONS

13 English words borrowed from Japanese

With the evident inclusion of Japanese influence to the American language and culture, it is not uncommon for an American to write a haiku about enjoying karaoke while eating sushi, sashimi and tempura while drinking sake after a tiring karate class. Here is a list of 13 other English words that were borrowed from Japanese:

  1. Dojo

In the Western world, a dojo is a training place or a school where karate, aikido, judo and other martial arts are taught. In Japan, it is any physical training facility or professional wrestling school.

  1. Jujitsu

With the increasing popularity of mixed martial arts around the world, people of all ages go to dojos to train various martial arts including jujitsu. Developed in Japan, it is a method of defending oneself without the use of weapons but instead using the strength and weight of an adversary to disable him or her.

  1. Sensei

The karate or judo instructor is referred to as a sensei. In Japanese, it refers to any type of teacher.

  1. Shiatsu

After a tiring jujitsu class in the dojo, a sensei deserves shiatsu, a form of acupressure that originated in Japan. Shiatsu is short for the Japanese word shiatsu-ryoho meaning finger pressure treatment.

  1. Ninja

A person described as a multitasking ninja is someone who excels particularly in multitasking. In feudal Japan, ninjas were mercenaries who were deemed dishonorable because of their covert methods unlike samurais who observed strict rules about combat.

  1. Otaku

An otaku is a young person who is obsessed with Japanese popular culture including anime, manga, video games, toys and TV series. In modern Japanese slang, the word is equivalent to nerd and geek.

  1. Honcho

A honcho is the leader, manager, boss or person in charge. It was from the Japanese word hancho, which refers to the leader of the squad, section or group.

  1. Tycoon

Similar to honcho, a tycoon is a leader but more specifically, tycoons are businesspersons of exceptional power, influence and wealth. It was from the archaic Japanese term of respect Taikun, which literally means Supreme Commander.

  1. Typhoon

While hurricanes occur in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and cyclones occur in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, typhoons occur in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Typhoon was from the Japanese word taifuu, which has the same meaning.

  1. Tsunami

A tsunami is a great sea wave generated by submarine earth movement or volcanic eruption. The term is from the Japanese words tsu and nami, which respectively mean harbor and wave.

  1. Skosh

A skosh of wasabi means a small amount of wasabi while a skosh tired means a little tired. From the Japanese word sukoshi, which means a tiny bit, the term was brought to the United States by American servicemen stationed in Japan after World War II.

  1. Emoji

Emoji literally means pictograph in Japanese. Emojis are icons, symbols and small images that allow communicating a message playfully without using words in electronic communication including e-mail, text messages and social media.

  1. Karoshi

Karoshi is a phenomenon in which employees die of overwork or stress. The term literally means overwork in Japanese.

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