Japanese Kana Loanwords

Updated 2007-03-29 08:10
MLmailing list
NG1) no good, 2) no go, 3) movie outtake
OA1) office automation, 2) open-ended answer
OB“old boy,” used in the British sense of alumnus
OHPoverhead projector
OJTon-the-job training
OL“office lady,” female clerical worker
OSMon-site massage
OVAon-video animation
PAparking area
P3Ipre-planned product improvement
PKFpeace keeping force
PL1) pail, 2) PL (Perfect Liberty) Kyoudan (PL教団), one of the New Religions, 3) product liability
P/Lprofit and loss [statement]
P/M, A/Mproperty management, asset management
PPCplain paper copier
PPKpinpin kororiUsed to describe an elderly person who doesn’t have to suffer through a lot of illness or disability before death but remains mentally and physically active until dying suddenly of a heart attack or stroke.
PQfrom patan kyuu (パタンキュー)a sudden systemic breakdown or crash
PRTRPollutant Release and Transfer Registry
R面取りR-mentorirounding corners
REreverse engineering
SPsecurity patrol
SPWspring washer (automotive)
TPMtotal plant management, total product management. This abbreviation is somewhat known in English-speaking business circles, at least by those who are always on the lookout for new management techniques.
TStracking stocks
TバックT-bakku“T-back”: thong panties
VSPvehicle speed
WカセットW-kasettodouble cassette; the prefix “W” is often used to mean “double”
Y版Y-hanyellow separation (printing)


アイス・キャンディーaisu kyandii“ice candy”: a frozen treat similar to a Popsicle
アールをとるaaru o torutake the radius
アイテムaitemu“item”: something that one “just has to have”
アイ・メートai meeto“eye mate”: guide dog for the blind
アウトパックautopakku“out pack”: 1) retail tray packaging, 2) outsourced packaging
アクリルakuriruacrylic, especially acrylic fiber
朝シャンasa-shanmorning shampoo
アシマネashimaneassistant manager
アス・コンasu konasphalt concrete
アッシーasshii“assy,” from the abbreviation for “assembly” (automotive)
アップトークappu tooku“up talk,” a style of speaking in which the speaker gives the end of each sentence or phrase a higher intonation
アトピーatopiia predisposition toward allergies
アナana“announcer,” often used as a title when the names of television announcers are shown on screen
アナカンanakanunaccompanied baggage
アニカラanikara“anime karaoke,” karaoke accompanied by animation
アニメanimeanimated cartoon
アパコンapakonaperture compensation
アブabushock absorber
アフターサービスafutaa saabisu“after service”: services such as repairs and checkups provided to purchasers of a product
アプリapuri(computer) application
アフレコafureko“after recording,” adding sounds to a soundtrack after a movie has been filmed
アメカジamekajiAmerican casual
アメフトamefutoAmerican football
アーム・ウォマーaamu uomaa“arm warmer” A knitted sleeve, analogous to a leg warmer
アムラーAmuraayoung girls who imitate the style of singer Amuro Namie
アルサロarusaro“arubaito saron,” a “salon” where the hostesses are supposedly part-timers with other jobs
アンケートankeetofrom French “enquete”: questionnaire
アンコンankon“unconstructed,” an overcoat with very simple lines and no shoulder pads, etc.
アンダーリヤandaa riyarear underbody
アンビリ anbiriunbelievable
イージーパンツiijii pantsu“easy pants,” loose-fitting pants with an elastic or drawstring waist
イタカジitakajiItalian casual
イタめしitameshiItalian food
一眼レフichigan refusingle lens reflex
イメチェンimechen“image change”: what cute little teen idol singers have to go through if they hope to survive in show business past the age of nineteen
イルコンirukonillumination control
インクリビジネスinkuribijinesuincremental business
インストinsuto“instructions,” briefings for market researchers
インディーズ・ビデオindiizu bideopornographic videos not approved by the 日本ビデオ倫理協会 (Nihon Bideo Rinri Kyoukai)
インパネinpaneinstrument panel
インポ薬impo yakuanti-impotence medication
インマニinmaniintake manifold
インメガチャートinmegachaatoTV test pattern chart, megacycles chart
ウィンカーuinkaa“winker”: the turn signal on a car
ウエスuesurag (for wiping)
ウエストモールuestomooruweather strip molding
エアコンeakonair conditioning
エアサスea sasuair suspension
エアモニea monion-air monitor
エーコッコシーeekakkoshii[non-gairago] adjective describing someone who is overly concerned with status. Can be used enviously with reference to someone of real accomplishment. Kansai dialect.
エキパイekipaiexhaust pipe
エキマニekimaniexhaust manifold
エコステーションeko suteeshona service station for cars that run on alternative fuels
絵コンテe-kontestoryboard (film)
エステ・サロンesute saron“esthetic salon,” where people go to get makeovers, massages, facials, etc.
エネトピアenetopiaa housing development designed with an eye toward energy conservation
エバチップebachippu“evaluation chip”: special version of a product with features that allow it to be used for evaluation
エフefutags attached to industrial equipment when defects or malfunctions are discovered. The tag is removed when the problem has been corrected.
エミフィルemifiruEMI (electro-magnetic interference) filter
エログロeroguroerotic and grotesque
エンストensutoengine stall
エンプラenpuraengineering plastics
オクションokushona pun on the word manshon, this refers to an apartment whose purchase price is so high that it is stated not in units of ten thousand yen (man) but in units of one hundred million yen (oku).
オードブルoodoburuhors d’oeuvres
オナドルonadoru“onanism idol”: a fantasy object for masturbation. Formerly オナペット (onapetto).
オバタリアンobatarian“aunt”+”battalion”: a rude and obnoxious older woman
オフコンofukonoffice computer
オペアンプopeanpuoperational amplifier
オリフラorifuraorientation flat (semiconductors)
オルゴールorugoorufrom German Orgel? music box
顔アップkao appuclose-up of a face


ダイヤdaiya1) diamond, or 2) train schedule
タウルケットtauruketto“towelket”: a type of bed linen resembling a large beach towel and used to cover one’s self in hot weather
ダウンサイジングdaunsaijingu“downsizing”: switching from mainframe to personal computers
タクトタイムtakuto taimu“tact time”: has to do with productivity, but discussions on the Honyaku mailing list indicate that its exact meaning may vary from company to company.
ダストボックスdasuto bokkusu“dust box”: Dumpster
タックシールtakku shiiru“tack seal”: a round gummed sticker
ダルメージdarumeejiDulmadge-type screw
ダンする dan surumake a done deal
チクソ性chikusoseithixotrophy (“the property of certain gels to liquefy when subjected to vibratory forces”)
チクソモールドchikuso moorudothixomolding (plastic and semiconductor industries)
チップ抵抗chippu teikouSMT resistor
チャームポイントchaamu pointo“charm point”: most attractive feature
チョベリグchoberiguvery, very good (teen slang)
チョベリバchoberibavery, very bad (teen slang)
チョムカchomukavery sickening (not gairaigo, teen slang)
チンピラchinpiraa young punk, young yakuza gangster (not gairaigo)
ディジカメdijikamedigital camera
ディジボルdijiborudigital voltmeter
デニるdeniruto eat at Denny’s
デノミdenomi“denomination”: reducing the face value of currency after inflation has created impossibly high numbers
テープカットteepu katto“tape cut”: ribbon cutting ceremony
テーブルタップteeburu tappu“table tap”: a power strip
テレクラterekura“telephone club”: a telephone chat line/”dating” service
テレコterekotape recorder
テレ放題tere houdaiNTT’s unmetered telephone service
テレワークterewaaku“telework”: telecommuting
テロップteroppuon-screen titles
ドーアップdoo appuextreme close-up
ドイトdoitoa “do-it-yourself” store
トーキtooki“talkie”: a prerecorded announcement
ドクター・ストップdokutaa sutoppu“doctor stop”: being ordered by one’s doctor to give up such habits as drinking, smoking, overeating, etc.
ドチャキャンdocha kyanabbreviation of “dotanba de kyanseru suru” (cancel at the last minute)
トップページtoppu peeji“top page”: the home page of a Web site. See ホームページ.
トップランナーtoppu rannaa“top runner”: a system of benchmarking against the best-in-class performance
ドラコンdorakondriving contest
トルコンtorukontorque converter
ドルペッグdoru peggu“dollar peg”: being pegged to the dollar
トレペtorepetracing paper
ナイス・ミディ・パスnaisu midi pasu“nice middy pass”: a discount rail pass for groups of women over 30 who are traveling together
ナイラッチnairacchinylon latch
ナウいnaui“nowy”: up-to-date (slang from the 1980s)
ナウナウイズムnaunauizumu“now-now-ism”: being interested only in the here and now without any regard for the future
ナシュプロnashupuronational project
ナースコールnaasu kooru“nurse call”: a patient’s call button in a hospital
なつメロnatsumero“natsukashii melody”: nostalgic melody
ニッカド電池nikkado denchinickel cadmium battery
ニュートラnyuutora“new traditional”
ニューハーフnyuu haafu“new half”: transsexual
人間ドックningen dokku“human [dry]dock”: a thorough physical exam


ノーパンnoopan“no panties”: used to describe various establishments where the waitresses wear short skirts and no underpants.
ノーヘルnooheruwithout a helmet
ノーマークnoomaaku“no mark”: not covered, not observed, occurring off the radar. Used especially to refer to a rival company’s having been first to develop a new product.
ノンコンデザインnonkon dezainnonconforming design
ノンセクションnon sekushon“non section”: unaffiliated
ノンセクトnon sekutonon-sectarian
バイじいbaijii:Viagra ojiisan”: an old man who takes Viagra
ノンポリnon porinon-political
バイキングbaikingu“Viking”: a smrgsbord or buffet dinner, from the Scandinavian origins of the smrgsbord (and the difficulty of transcribing smrgsbord into katakana, undoubtedly)
ハイスhaisuhigh-speed steel
バイターbaitaa“biter”: ice cream on a stick
パイプpaipu“pipes”: channels, official or otherwise
パイプ・カットpaipu katto“pipe cut”: vasectomy
バイふューエル車bai fyuueru shadual fuel vehicle
ハイミスhai misu“high miss”: older unmarried woman
ハイヤーhaiyaa“hire”: a “hire car,” a car and driver that can be contracted for short periods of time
ハウス・ミヌカンhausu manukan“house mannequin”: sales clerk in a fancy boutique clothing store
ハウリングhauringu“howling”: audio feedback
パーキング・ドライバーpaakingu doraibaa“parking driver”: parking valet
バーコードbaakoodo“bar code”: the comb-over hairstyle favored by men vainly attempting to hide their baldness
パジャマ・コールpajama kooru“pajama call”: late-night phone call
バージン・ロードbaajin roodo“virgin road”: the aisle that a bride walks down
バスコンpasukonbypass capacitor
バストフィットbasuto fitto“bust fit”: the way a bra fits
パソコンpasokonpersonal computer
パーソナル化paasonaru-kapersonalization, when a product stops being a novelty or luxury and becomes a consumer item that “everyone” has, due to lower costs
パチスロpachisuroslot machine in a pachinko parlor
パチプロpachipuroprofessional pachinko player
バックシャンbakkushan“back”+German “schoen”: used to describe a woman who looks beautiful only from the back
パチモンpachimoncheap knockoffs of famous brands (not gairaigo)
パッサージpassaaju“passage”: a glassed-over arcade
バッタモンbattamonmerchandise obtained by buying out the inventories of failed retailers instead of going through normal wholesale channels
バッティングbattingu“butting”: 1) intruding on someone else’s turf, 2) having a time or schedule conflict
バッテンbattendialect word used in Kyushu and a few other places for keredomo(but).
バテレンbateren“padre”: the old name for the Portuguese priests who came to Japan in the sixteenth century
パトカーpatokaapatrol car
パトライトpatoraito“patrol light”: a rotating warning light similar to the one on a “patokaa.”
パナホールpanahooruPanasert hole (semiconductors)
パナマックスpanamakkusuPanamax, the maximum size of ship that can pass through the Panama Canal
パンタクールpantakuuruCapri pants, pedal pushers
ハーフhaafu“half”: a person of mixed race, usually Japanese and something else
ハーフミラーhaafu miraa“half mirror”: 50% beam splitter
パーマpaamapermanent wave
ハマトラhamatora“Yokohama traditional”: a style of clothing popular in the late 1970s and resembling a Catholic school uniform
バラbarabulk storage
パラサイト・シングルparasaito shinguru“parasite single”: a single person who earns enough to live alone but prefers to live rent-free with his or her parents
バリカンbarikanbarber’s clippers
パリーグpariiguPacific League
バリコンbarikonvariable condenser
パルスモータparusu moota“pulse motor”: stepping motor
バルボルbaruboru“valve volt”: vacuum tube volt meter
ハローワークharoo waaku“Hello Work”: the new name for the Japanese government employment agency
パ(ワ)ステpa(wa)sutepower steering
ハンストhansutohunger strike
パンストpansutoshort for パンティーストッキング(panty stocking), aka pantyhose.
パンタロン pantaron(French) “pantalon”: cropped pants
ハンドキャリアーhando kyariaa“hand carrier”: employee of a messenger or delivery service
ハンドリフトhandorifuto“handlift”: pallet jack, manual forklift
パンピpanpishort for ippan piipuru (“most people)
ピアスpiasu“pierce”: ear or body piercing
ヒーポンhiiponheat pump
ビオトープbiotoopu“biotope”: a wildlife refuge
ビジネス・プロデュースbijinesu purodyuusu“business produce”: starting up and developing a business
ピスコpisukopiston corer
ビタビ復号Bitabi fukugouViterbi decoding
ピッキングpikkingu“picking”: a distributor picking up merchandise form a storage facility
ピットインpitto in“pit in”: pit stop
ヒッパレhipparehit parade
ヒップボーンhippuboon“hip-borne”: hip hugger [pants]
ビニハンbinihanvinyl (plastic) headed hammer
ビニボンbinibonpornographic magazines sold wrapped in plastic
ヒーロ・パケージhiiro pakeeji“hero package”: a commercial in which the product is the “hero” of the segment
ヒヤリハットhiyari hatto(not gairaigo) a close call, a near miss
ビルジャックbirujakku“building highjack”: a hostage situation
ピンクちらしpinku chirashia flyer advertising a sex-related business
ファイアストームfaiasutoomu“fire storm”: a celebratory bonfire
ファストンfasutonfast on [terminal]
ファミコンfamikon“family computer”: home video game machine. A trademark used generically
ファミレスfamiresufamily restaurant
フィンドレビンfindorebinvinyl drainpipe with fins
フェースシートfeesu shiito“face sheet”: 1) top copy, 2) questionnaire that asks for a demographic profile
フェミニストfeminisuto“feminist”: can literally mean “feminist,” but it also refers to a man who practices “ladies first” etiquette.
プチブルpuchiburupetit bourgeois
フライングfuraingu“flying”: a false start in an athletic competition
ブラウン官Buraun kancathode ray tube
プラスアルファpurasu arufa“plus alpha”: a little more than usual
プラスドライバーpurasu doraibaa“plus driver”: Phillips screwdriver (from the shape of the head)
ブラックburakku“black”: a person with a poor credit rating, who is therefore blacklisted
ブラピBurapiBrad Pitt
プラボットルpurabottoruplastic bottle
フラマグfuramaguflywheel magnet
プラモデルpuramoderuplastic model
プリクラpurikura“Print Club”: a photo booth that prints out cards and stickers of the resulting photograph. These are then traded among friends.
プリーケーpurii-keeprepaid cellular phone (keitai denwa) service
フリーターfuriitaaa person who doesn’t have a steady job but survives on a series of temporary or part-time jobs
フリーダイヤルfurii daiyaru“free dial”: toll-free telephone call
ブリッコburikkoa young girl who affects an exaggeratedly sweet and innocent manner (1980s slang)
フリーマfuriimafree market or flea market
プリンpurin“pudding”: sweet egg custard
プレスコpuresuko“prescoring”: recording the music or sound effects before filming a scene
フレキfurekiflexible cable
フレコンfurekonflexible conduit
フレコン化furekonkachanging something to full remote control
プレゾン・エイドpurezon eidopresentation aid
フロアレディーfuroa redii“floor lady”: a kind of bar hostess
プログレpurogureprogressive rock
プロレスpuroresuprofessional wrestling
ペアガラスpea gurasu“pair glass”: double glazing
ヘア・マニキュアーhea manikyuaa“hair manicure”: temporary hair dye or streaks
ペアリングpearing“pairing”” an unmarried couple living together
ベークオフbeeku ofu“bake off”: when a bakery bakes its wares from dough brought in from elsewhere
ベイ、ベーbei/beeused in northern dialects instead of darou or the tentative form of the verb, as in egu bee for ikou “Let’s go.”
ベースアップbeesu appu“base up”: salary increase. Abbreviated as ベア(bea).
ペーパードライバーpeepaa doraibaa“paper driver”: a person who has a current driver’s license but doesn’t own a car
ペチャパイpechapai(not gairaigo) flat chested
ベテランbeteran“veteran”: an older worker with extensive experience. Also used jokingly to refer to an old piece of equipment. Not used to refer to people who have served in the military.
ベッドタウンbeddo taun“bed town”: bedroom community
ペットボトルpetto bottoru“PET bottle”: clear plastic beverage bottle
ベビーオールbebii ooru“baby all”: a one-piece garment with snaps up the front, sort of like a jumpsuit for babies
ベビーサークルbebii saakuru“baby circle”: play pen
ヘルスherusu“health”: a type of massage parlor
ベル友beru tomoa person with whom one communicates by pager (pokeberu)


ポイント・メークpointo meeku“point make”: making up only parts of one’s face instead of doing a full make-up job
ボキャ貧bokyahinlacking the words to say what one means. (Bokya is short for “vocabulary”)
ポケバイpokebai“pocket bike”: a very small motorbike
ポケハロpokeharo“pocket hello”: a “pocket Hello Kitty” that combines a pedometer and a tamagotchi
ポケベルpokeberu“pocket bell”: pager, beeper
ポケモンPokemon“pocket monster”: Just in case you’ve been on another planet for a while, I’ll explain that this is the name of an internationally popular cartoon series.
ポジフィルムpoji firumupositive film
ホッチキスhocchikisu“Hotchkiss”: stapler (from a brand name)
ボディコンbodikon“body consciousness”: wearing tight clothes to show off one’s body
ポテチpotechipotato chip
ホトマルhotomaruphoto multiplier
ホームhoomurailway platform
ホーム・エステhoomu esute“home esthetics”: a service that goes to clients’ homes to give beauty treatments
ホームスチールhoomu suchiiru“stealing home” in baseball
ホームドラマhoomu dorama“home drama”: soap opera
ホームドレスhoomu doresu“home dress”: house dress, plain dress for everyday wear
ホームページhoomu peeji“home page”: used to refer to an entire Web site. See トップページ(toppu peeji).
ポリ公pori-kouslang for police officer
ポリ袋pori bukuropolyethylene bag
ボリュームboryuumu“volume”: any kind of adjustment knob, not necessarily for sound
プロマネpuromaneproject manager
マイコンmaikon1) microcomputer, 2) moving (animated) icon
マイナスシーリングmainasu shiiringu“minus ceiling”: a budget which is reduced in comparison to the previous fiscal year
マイブームmai buumu“my boom”: something that a person is currently obsessed with or fascinated by
マイペースmai peesu“my pace”: at one’s own pace
マーケット・インmaaketto in“market in”: incorporating the needs of the market into a product
マザコンmazakonmother complex
マスコットmasukotto“mascot”: a small thing that a person values (not only animals but also inanimate objects)
マスコミmasukomimass communications, mass media
マスターmasutaa“master”: the owner of a bar
マテハンmatehanmaterials handling
マナーボタンmanaa botan“manner button”: the button that prevents a cellular phone from ringing out loud in a public place
マネロンmaneronmoney laundering
ママチャリmamacharithe kind of bicycle favored by housewives running errands around their neighborhood
マルチmaruchi1) multimedia, 2) multilevel marketing
マンションmanshon“mansion”: a condominium apartment
ミシュランmishuran“Michelin”: a guidebook to anything, not just to tourist sites and restaurants
ミスコンmisu kon“miss contest”: a beauty contest to name “Miss Tofu” or something like that
ミスターレディーmisutaa redii“Mr. Lady”: a transvestite
ミッションmisshon1) transmission, 2) stick shift car
ミニコミminikomicommunications within a small range
ミーハーmiihaaoverly fascinated with and impressed by celebrities (not gairaigo)
ムックmukku“magazine”+ “book”: a thick illustrated publication on a single topic printed to look like a magazine
ムーバーmuubaa“mover”: a mechanical ride
メーカーオプションmeekaa opushon“maker option”: factory-installed option
メークmeekumake up
メールmeeru“mail”: used [exclusively?] for e-mail
メクラキャップmekura kyappublank plug
メモるmemoruto take notes
メリットmeritto“merit”: advantage, strong poin
メルアドmeru adoe-mail address
メル友merutomoa friend with whom one corresponds by e-mail-
メルヘンチックmerhenchikkufrom the German word “Maerchen”: having a fairy tale atmosphere
モガmoga“modern girl”: a flapper (slang from the 1920s)
モータリゼーションmootarizeeshon“motorization”: the spread of car ownership within a developing country
モーテルmooteru“motel”: However, this usually refers to a rabu hoteru.
モバイラーmobairaaa person fond of using a mobile phone
モリダグmoridagua dag coating containing molybdenum
モールファブリックmooru faburikku“mole fabric”: chenille
ヤマンバyamanbaa subculture of teenage girls ca. 1999. They dye their hair blonde, tan their faces or use dark make-up except around their eyes, and wear platform boots
ヤンエグyan’eguyoung executive
ヤングラ市場yangura ichiba“young underground market”: the underground economy in goods and services, involving lots of barter and buying and selling of secondhand goods
ヤンママyan mama“young mama”: a young mother in her early twenties
ラジカセrajikasea radio with a built-in cassette recorder
ラジコンrajikonradio controlled
ラストヘビーrasuto hebii“last heavy”: the final effort before the end. (One of my Honyaku correspondents told me that this expression is no longer used, but I forget what he told me about the new popular phrase.)
ラ/テ欄ra/te ranradio and television listings
ラブ・ホテルrabu hoteru“love hotel”: a hotel that rents rooms to couples either overnight or for two hours’ “rest”
ラボrabolanguage laboratory
ラーメンraamenIf “noodles” doesn’t make sense and the context is architectural, try “Rahmen” or “rigid frame.’
ランクルrankuru[Toyota] Land Cruiser
ランコンrankonlunchtime concert
ランドセルrandoseruthe leather backpack that elementary school children wear
ランニングranningutank top
リスrisuIf “squirrel” doesn’t make sense, try “lithograph.”
リストラrisutoracorporate restructuring
リベンジribenji“revenge”: the determination of a loser to win the next time
リモコンrimokonthe remote control for a television set
リンチrinchi“lynch”: not necessarily as lethal as its English equivalent, this refers to group members ganging up on one of their own.
ルーズ・ソックスruuzu sokkusu“loose socks”: a fashion among young girls. The “loose socks” are thigh-high knit stockings worn pushed down to a level slightly below the knee and held at the proper height with adhesive.
ルーミングruumingu“rooming”: arranging a room to one’s own tastes
レジrejicash register
レスresuresponse (to an e-mail message)
レポ取り引きrepo torihikirepurchase agreement
ローif “low” doesn’t work, try “raw” or “law.”
ロケrokelocation (film industry)
ロビイズムrobiizmu“lobbyism”: lobbying
ローラー族rooraa zokupeople devoted to inline rollerskating
ローレットねじrooretto nejiknurled screw
ロリコンrorikon“Lolita complex”: older men being sexually attracted to very young girls
ロン毛rongelong hair
ワイトキックwaitokikku“white kick”—a loan translation of shirakeru: the dead silence after a joke falls flat
ワッペンwappenfrom German Wappen: a badge or insignia
ワープロwaapuroword processor
ワーホリwaa-hori“working holiday”: a type of visa arrangement that allows young people from certain countries to take short-term jobs in Japan and young Japanese to do the same in the partner countries.
ワンウェーびんwan uee bin“one way bottle”: non-returnable bottle
ワンレンwanren“one length” hair


Question Answer Column 3
BGMbakku guraundo mushikkuBack Ground Music