Japanese words of Portuguese origin

The Portuguese arrived in Japan around 1542-1543, being the first Europeans to establish a continuous and direct flow of trade between Japan and Europe. This also influenced the Japanese language, since several products arrived in Japan, during that time through the Portuguese.

Over the years, it was speculated that more than 4,000 Japanese words were influenced by the English and English languages. In this article, we will see a list of some of those words.

Romaji Kana / Kanji Ancient English Modern English Comments
arukōru アルコール alcohols alcohol
bateren 伴天連 / 破天連 priest priest
bīdama ビー玉 glass) + 玉 (lady = “Ball”) marble, marbles
biidoro ビードロ glass glass
birōdo ビロード or 天鵞絨 velvet velvet
bouro/bouru ボーロボール cake cake ball
botan ボタン釦 / 鈕 button button
buranko ブランコ swing swing, swing
charumera/charumeru チャルメラ / 哨吶 charamela charamela Old wind musical instrument
chokki チョッキ as jacket, vest
furasuko フラスコ bottle bottle
iesu イエス Jesu Jesus It can also mean “yes”, from English yes
igirisu イギリス / 英吉利 English English Igirisu currently it means the United Kingdom.
iruman イルマン / 入満 / 伊留満 / 由婁漫 brother brother Term used at the beginning of the Christianization of Japan to identify the missionary before becoming a priest.
swear じょうろ / 如雨露 jug jug
juban/jiban じゅばん / 襦袢 doublet t-shirt
kanakin/kanekin 金巾 / ▽かなきん / ▽かねきん canikin canikin Not used in current English.
kantera/kandeya カンテラ / カンデヤ candeia, candela lamp In current English, the word candle is preferred.
kapitan 甲比丹 / 甲必丹 captain captain
kappa 合羽 cover waterproof cover
karuta かるた / 歌留多 / 加留多 / 骨牌 cards Playing cards
kasutera, kasuteera,kasuteira カステラ castella sponge-cake Type of cake with sponge cake
kirishitan キリシタン / 切支丹 / 吉利支丹 christon Christian
kirisuto キリスト or 基督 Christo Christ
kompeitō 金米糖 / 金平糖 / 金餅糖 confection confetti In Japanese it is a special type of candy or candy.
koppu コップ cup cup
kurusu クルス cross cross
marumero 木瓜 or マルメロ quince quince
meriyasu メリヤス / 莫大小 / 目利安 socks socks
target ミイラ / 木乃伊 myrrh myrrh
oranda オランダ / 和蘭 (陀) / 阿蘭陀 Hollanda Netherlands Netherlands / Netherlands
pan パン / 麺麭 / 麪包 bread bread
pandoro パンドロ sponge-cake sponge-cake
rasha 羅紗 raxa twill
rozario ロザリオ rosary Rosary
sabato サバト Saturday Saturday
sarasa 更紗 saraça morim Fine cotton fabric
shabon シャボン soap soap
shabondama シャボン玉 soap + 玉 (lady = ball) soap ball
shōro ショーロ cry cry
shurasuko シュラスコ barbecue barbecue
subset すべた / スベタ sword sword
tabako 煙草 / 莨 tobacco tobacco In Japanese, the word is used to describe the tobacco plant and also the cigarette.
Tempura 天麩羅 / 天婦羅 Temples Temples The Temples were days of religious fasting when Portuguese Catholics did not eat meat and fried breaded vegetables and fish, foods that were usually eaten raw or cooked by the Japanese.
zabon 朱欒 / 香欒 zamboa grapefruit Fruit of the Citrus adami tree



Arigato does not have Portuguese origin as some think. In reality, "arigato" is the modern form of "arigatashi" in archaic Japanese that consists of the combination of "Ari" of the verb "Aru" (to be, to be, to exist) and "Katashi" an adjective that means difficulty. That is, I have difficulty expressing my gratitude.


This word is used to emphasize what has just been said. In Portuguese, the "right" also has the same function, being a contraction of the phrase "Isn't it?". However, it is very likely that it is a mere coincidence.



I plan to expand this list soon. If you find any important words missing, or any errors, leave your comment.

Source: Wikipedia