Wasei-Eigo - English in Japanese

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Wasei-eigo [和製英語] these are English made in Japan, that is, they are Japanese pseudo-anglicisms. Simply put, wasei-eigo is the general term for words based on foreign languages that have been used in the Japanese language.

Japanese English

Usually words that are borrowed from English or other languages are written in katakana. In addition to the title wasei-eigo these words can also be called Japanese English [ジャパニーズイングリッシュ].

Some Japanese words like karaoke [カラオケ] mix Japanese words with foreign words. In this case, the word empty was mixed kara [空] with the word orchestra [オーケストラ] joining like this kara + ok written in katakana.

English used in Japanese is often denied as “misuse of foreign languages”. However, Japanese English is not an English vocabulary, but a Japanese vocabulary, and it is natural that it cannot be understood by non-Japanese speakers.

In addition, there is a Japanese-only use of English in Japan and there may be a discrepancy in the meaning of words with English speakers. The mere fact of an English saber does not mean that you understand the wasei-eigo.

Wasei-eigo - English in Japanese

False Cognates in Japanese Wasei-Eigo

It is easy to confuse or find false cognates in words wasei-eigo, as they do not always inherit the same meaning as in the West. We even wrote an article about false cognates in Japanese from different languages, including portuguese.

Sometimes an English word that is a verb can become a noun in Japanese or the other way around. In fact, a small-scale deviation in meaning is found in almost all foreign words.

Because of the differences between languages and their grammar, it is inevitable that the meanings of foreign words used in Japanese are different from the original words. Some English words were used by another country, culture or even by the Japanese.

Wasei-eigo - English in Japanese

Gairaigo - Foreigner's Words

Another term besides Wasei-eigo to refer to words of foreign origin is gairaigo [外来語]. These are all words used in Japan of foreign origin written in katakana. They can originate from English, Portuguese, French and other languages.

Gairaigo it literally means borrowed words other than its development in ancient Japan. These words ended up in Japanese because of new things that appeared in the westernization of the country.

Same in Portuguese when we talk about download, internet, hotdog and hamburger. These words have a very common use and some can even become a suru verb as in the case of kisusuru [キスする] which means to kiss.

Wasei-eigo - English in Japanese

Engrish - Japanese using the wrong English

There is a difference between changing the meaning of English words used in Japanese and literally spelling English words wrong. This happens in Japan in the same way that it happens in Brazil and other countries that do not speak English.

Engrish is slang used by Asian language speakers to ridicule English with the incorrect use of word expressions and spelling. The coined word "Engrish" is a variation of the spelling of "English" and was originally created to ridicule the confusion between the English sounds "R" and "L" that are characteristic of Japanese speakers ...

It can also refer to the intentional or careless misuse of English words used in advertisements for foreigners. We even made an article showing some of the images with 15 examples of engrish.

Wasei-eigo - English in Japanese

Word List Wasei-Eigo

JapaneseRomajiEnglishTranslation
〜アップ~ appuup (grid)update or improve (something).
〜ティック or 〜⁠チック~ tikku or ~ chikkuthe “-tic” suffix, from (roman) tic, (drama) ticromantic and dramatic.
アフターサービスafutāsābisuafter servicecustomer service, user support, service
アイドルaidoruidol(teen) idol, pop star
アイスクリームaisu kurīmuice creamice cream
アメフトamefutolove (rican) foot (ball)American football
アメリカンドッグamerikandogguamerican dogCorn Dog
アニメanimeanima (tion)animation.
アニソンanisonani (me) + son (g)anime songs
アパートfitapart (ment)apartment
アポapoappo (intment)commitment
アールブイārubuirvtruck, van, suv, vehicle
アウトコースautokōsuout courseout
バーゲンbāgenbargainbargain
バイクbaikubikea motorcycle
バックミラーbakkumirāback mirrorrearview mirror
バックナンバーbakkunanbāback numberlate number
バックネットbakkunettoback neta setback (in baseball)
バリアフリーbariafurībarrier freeaccessible facilities for people with disabilities
バターbatābutterbutter
バッティングbattingubatting or buttingstrikes
ベビーカーbebīkābaby carbaby carriage
ベッドタウンbeddotaunbed towndorms
ビジネスホテルbijinesuhoterubusiness hotelbusiness hotels
ビルbirubuil (ding)construction
ボールペンbōrupenball (point) penballpoint pen
ブックカバーbukkukabābook coverbook cover
ブラセラ or ブルセラburasera or buruserabloo (mer) sailorfetish for panties / sailors' clothes.
ブレザーburezāblazerblazer, or a Japanese school uniform
ブルマburumabloomerswomen's physical education clothing
チェリーボーイcherībōicherry boya virgin man
チアガールchiagārucheer girlcheerleader
チアマンchiamancheer mancheerleader
チアリーダーchiarīdācheerleadercheerleader
チアリーディングchiarīdingucheerleadingcheerleader
チケットchikettoticketticket / ticket
ダブルダブるdaburudoubledouble
ダンプカーdanpukādump cardump truck
ダストボックスdasutobokkusudust boxbarks of dust / trash can
ダウンロードオンリーメンバーdaunrōdoonrīmenbādownload only memberdownload for members only
デッドボールdeddobōrudead balldead ball
デコレーションケーキdekorēshonkēkidecoration cakecake decoration
デパートdepātodepart (ment store)Department store
デリバリーヘルスderibarīherusudelivery healthprostitute, call girl
デスクdesukudesktable
ドクター ストップdokutāsutoppudoctor stopmedical stop
ドンマイdonmaidon ('t) mi (na)I do not care
ドライバーdoraibādriverdriver
ドライブインdoraibuindrive indrive on
ドラマdramadramatv drama / soap opera / serie
ドリフトdorifutodriftdrift / drift
エアコンeakonair con (ditioning) or air con (ditioner)air conditioning
avorbui or ēvuiadult video / video
エッチecchih (first letter based on hentai)dirty, naughty, sex
エンストensutoen (gine) sto (p)engine stop
エレベーターerebētāelevatorelevator
エロeroEros)erotic
エログeroguero (tick) + (b) logerotic blog
エログロeroguroero (tic) gro (tesque)grotesque porn
エールēruyellshout out
llceruerushīacronym for “long life coolant”acronym for "long life to soda"
エスカレーターesukarētāescalatorescalator
ファイトfeatfightfight
ファミコンfamikon, famicomfami (ly) com (puter)nintendinho
ファンタジックfantajikkufantasy + -icFantastic
フェッチfecchifetchsearch
~フェチclosedfeti (sh)fetish
フォアボールfoabōrufour ballfour ball
フライfuraifryfry
フライfuraiflyflying ball
フライドポテトfuraidopotetofried potatoFrench fries
フライング(スタート)furaingu (sutāto)flying (start)flight start
フリーダイアル or フリーダイヤルfurīdaiaru or furīdaiyarufree dialtoll free
フリーサイズfurīsaizufree sizefree size
フロントfurontofront (desk)reception
フロントガラスfurontogarasufront glassfront glass
ガードマンgādomanguard mansafety
ガソリンスタンドgaspinggasoline standgas station
ガッツポーズgattsu pōzuguts poseshow courage, strength
ゲームセンター or ゲーセンgēmusentā or gēsengame centeracarde / arcade
ギブ(アップ)gibu (appu)give up)give up
ゴールデンアワー or ゴールデンタイムgōruden'awā or gōrudentaimugolden hour or golden timegolden hour or golden age
ゴールデンウィーク or ゴールデンウイークgōruden'wīku or gōruden'uīkugolden weeka week vacation in japan
グラスgurasuglassglass
グロgurogro (tesque)grotesque
ギャラリーgyararīgallerygallery
ハイカラhaikarahigh colla (r)slang for western currencies
ハイネックhainekkuhigh neckturtleneck
ハイタッチhaitacchihigh touchtouch here
ハッカーhakkāhacker
ハンバーグhanbāguhamburg (er steak)hamburger
ハンドルhandoruhandleto handle
ハンドルキーパーhandorukīpāhandle keeperdesignated driver
ハンドルネームhandorunēmuhandle nameuser name
ハンカチhankachihan (d) kerchie (f)scarf
ハンストhansutohun (ger) st (rike)hunger strike
ハッピーエンドhappīendohappy endhappy ending
ハウスhausu(vinyl) + houseHouse
ヘアピンカーブheapinkābuhairpin curvecurve
ヘルスメーターherusumētāhealth meterhealth meter
ヒップhippuhipsbuttocks, butt
ホッチキスhocchikisuhotchkissstapled
ホームhōmu(plat) formplatform
ホットケーキhottokēkihotcakepancake
ホワイトデーhowaitodēwhite + dayvalentine's day - white day
イメージimējiimageImage
イン・キーin kīin keyon the key
インフレinfureinfl (tion)inflation
イラストirateillust (ration)illustration
イヤー・オブ・ザ・コーチiyā obu za kōchiyear of the coachcoach of the year
ジャンパーjanpajumperjacket, blazer
ジェンダーフリーjendāfurīgender freefree sex
ジェットコースターjettokōsutājet coasterroller coaster
ジーパンjīpanjea (ns) + pan (ts)jeans
ジュースjūsujuicejuice
カメラマンkameramancameramancameraman
カモン or カモーンkamon or kamōneat onwe will
カンニングkanningucunningcunning
カシューナッツkashū nattsucashew nutcashew nut
キーボードkībōdokeyboardkeyboard
キッチンペーパーkicchinpēpākitchen paperkitchen paper
キーホルダーkīhorudākey holderlocksmith
キスマークkisumākukiss markkiss mark
コインランドリーkoin randorīcoin laundrylaundry
コインロッカーkoin rokkācoin lockercoin cabinet
コンビニkonbiniconveni (ence store)convenience store
コンピューター or コンピュータkonpyūtā or konpyūtacomputercomputer
コンセントkonsentoconcent (ric plug)power plug
コラボkorabocollab (orations)collaborate
コロッケーkorokkecroquettecroquet
コスプレkosupurecos (tume) playcosplay
クラブ or 倶楽部kurabuclubclub or society
クラクションkurakushonklaxonelectric horn
クリスタルkurisutarucrystalcrystal
キャベツkyabetsucabbagecabbage
キャビンアテンダントkyabinatendantocabin attendantcabin attendant
キャッチボールkyacchibōrucatch ballcatch ball
キャッチホンkyacchihoncatch phonecall in wait
キャンペーンkyanpēncampaigncampaign
キャップkyappucapcap
マグカップmagukappumug cupcup / mug
マイ〜May ~mymy
マイナスドライバーmainasudoraibāminus driverscrewdriver
マジックインキmajikkuinkimagic ink (a registered trademark of uchida yoko co., ltd.)magic ink
マジックテープmajikkutēpumagic tapemagic tape
マニアmaniamaniaenthusiasm, enthusiastic
マンションmanshonmansionmansion
マスコミmasukomimass communicationmass communication
マザコンmazakonmother with (plex) [1]with mom
メールmērumailmail
メールマガジンmērumagajinmail magazinemail magazine
ミルクmirukumilkmilk
ミシンmishin(sewing) machineSewing machine
モバイルmobairumobilemobile and portable communication devices.
モボmobomo (dern) bo (y)modern man
モガmogamo (dern) gi (rl)modern girl
モーニングコート or モーニングmōningukōto or mōningumorning coatcutaway
モーニングサービス or モーニングmōningusābisumorning servicemorning service
モーテルmōterumotelmotel
ムーディmūdimoodytemperamental
ナンバーディスプレイnanbādisupureinumber displaydisplay number
ノークレームノーリターンnōkurēmunōritānno claim, no returnno claim, no return
ノートnōtonotenote
ニューハーフnyūhāfunew-halfnew sock
オーバーōbāoverend
オージーōjīorgyorgy
オンリーワンonrīwanonly oneonly one
オープンカーōpunkāopen carconvertibles (automobile)
オーライōraia (ll) righ (t)okay
パインpainpine (apple)pineapple
パーマpāmaperma (nent wave)permanent
パネリストpanerisutopanelistspeaker
パンクpankupunc (ture)flat tire
パンストpansutopan (ty) + sto (cking)pantyhose
パンツpantsupantsunderwear, can be used for any underwear, including panties.
パソコンpasokonperso (nal) com (puter)computer (abbreviated giria)
パーソナルコンピューターpāsonaru konpyūtāpersonal computerpersonal computer
ペアルックpearukkupair lookmatching clothes (usually between a couple)
ペーパードライバーpēpādoraibāpaper driverwho has a license but does not drive
ペーパーカンパニーpēpākanpanīpaper companyfictional company, facade company, paper company
ペーパーテストpēpātesutopaper testwritten exam / test
ピンチpinchi(in a) pinchpotentially disastrous situation
ポケベルpokeberupocke (t) bellbeep, pager
ポケモンpokémonpocke (t) mon (ster)pocket monsters
ポストposurepostmail box
プラスドライバーpurasudoraibāplus driverphillips screwdriver
プリクラpurikuraprint club (trademark)print photo
プロpureprofessionalprofessional
ラブホテルrabuhoterulove hotelhotel for couples ...
ライバルraibarurivalrival
ライブアクションraibuakushonlive actionLive
ライブハウスraibuhausulive houseconcert hall
ライフラインraifurainlifelinelife rope
ラムネramunelemona (from)Lemonade
ランニングホームランranninguhōmuranrunning home runrunning a home run
リベンジribenjirevengerevenge
リーチrīchireachcatch up
リフォームrifōmureformremodeling
リモコンrimokonrowing (with) trolleyRemote Control
リンクフリーrinkufurīlink freefree call
リニューアルrinyūarurenewalrenovation
ロードショーrōdoshōroadshow (theatrical release)debut
ロケーションハンティング, ロケハンrokēshonhantingu, rokehanlocation huntinghunting spot
ロマンスグレーromansugurēgray romancesilver-gray hair
ロマンスカーromansukāromance carluxury train
ロープウェーrōpuwērope wayairship path
ロリコンrorikonloli (ta) with (plex)sexual attraction to minors.
ロスタイムrosutaimuloss timewaste of time
サービスsābisuserviceservice
サイダーexitcidercider
サイドブレーキsaidoburēkiside brakeside brake
サインsainsignboard
サインペンsainpensign penbookmark, business name
サンドバッグsandobaggusandbagsand bag
サンドイッチ or サンドsandoicchi, sandosand (wich)sandwich
サラリーマンsararīmansalary + mansalaried: an salaried office
セフレpunctureif (x) + cold (nd)occasional sexual partner, sex friends
セックスsekkusuFrisex
セクハラsekuharasex (ual) hara (ssment)sexual harassment
センスsensusensesense
セレブserebuceleb (rity)celebrity
シャープペンシル or シャーペンshāpenshiru or shāpenshar (p) pencil or shar (p) pen (cil)automatic pencil
シーエムshīemucm (commercial message)television ad
シールshīrusealseal
シルバーシートshirubāshītosilver seat (referring to the silver hair of elderly passengers)silver seat, light priority
ソフトI succumbsoft (ware)Software
ソフトクリームsofutokurīmu orsoftcreamsoft (ice) creamice cream
ソーラーシステムsōrāshisutemusolar systemsolar system (energy)
スイートルームsuītorūmusuite roomsuite
スカイsukaiskysky
スケボーsukebōska (te) bo (ard)skateboard
スケルトンsukerutonskeletonskeleton
スキーsukīskiski
スキンシップsukinshippuskin + -shipskinship
スマートsumātosmartintelligent
スムーズsumūzusmooth (transaction)successful transaction
スーパーsūpāsuper (market)supermarket
スパッツ, スパッツタイツsupattsu, supattsutaitsuspats, spats tightsleggings, tights
スペルsuperspellspell
スリーサイズsurīsaizuthree sizethree size
ストーブsutōbustovecooker
ストライキ or ストsutoraiki or sutostrike or st (rike)strike
タイムオーバーtaimuōbātime overtime is up
タレントtarenttalenttalent
テンキーtenkīten keynumeric keyboard
テンションtenshontensionvoltage
テレビterebitelevi (sion)TV
テレビゲームterebigēmutelevi (sion) gamevideo game
テレカterekatele (phone) ca (rd)tele (phone) ca (rd)
ティーンエージャーtīn'ējāteenagerteenager
トイレ(ット)toire (tto)toile (t)WC
トランプtoranputrump (s)trump card
ヴァイキングvaikinguvikingviking
ワンパターンwanpatānone patterna pattern
ワンピースwanpīsuone pieceone piece
ワープロwāpurowor (d) pro (cessor)word processor
ウィンカー or ウインカーwinkā or uinkāwinkerturn signal
ヤンエグyan'eguyoun (g) ex (ecutive)young executive
ヨットyottoyachtyacht

There are probably thousands of other words, in the future I intend to update this list even more. Leave your comment if any important words or errors or suggestions were missing.

Videos about Wasei-Eigo

Below you can follow some videos about wasei-eigo from our friends Ricardo Cruz and Otaku in Japan talking a little about Wasei-Eigo:

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