Top 10 Japanese KATAKANA English You should know (Load words:Wasei-eigo) : Those words and compounds derived from the English language but in most cases not in fact used in English with the same meanings. Enjoy!

  • Salaryman in Japanese language means office worker.
  • Skinship in Japanese language means physical contact.
  • Drive in in Japanese language means roadside restaurant.
  • Dutch wife in Japanese language means sex doll.
  • Car sex in Japanese language means public sex in a car.
  • Ice candy in Japanese language means ice lolly.
  • New half in Japanese language means trans-gender.
  • Open car in Japanese language means convertible car.
  • Play guide in Japanese language means ticket agency.
  • Love hotel in Japanese language means a hotel designed expressly for sexual liaisons.
  • Oil shock in Japanese language means oil crisis.
  • Free size in Japanese language means one-size-fits-all.
  • Philippines pub in Japanese language means a bar with Filipino staff.
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What is the Japanglish (Wasei eigo) ?

You’ve definitely encountered them before but don’t necessarily know what they are. Both are Japanese words that are words originally borrowed from another language. Read through this blog to know what they are and how to tell them apart!

Japanese English These are WASEI EIGO(和製英語) | Learn Japanese online

What are they and how are they different?

Firstly, what exactly are they? They are both words that are used in the Japanese language but are actually borrowed words or are words of a different language. We have something similar in english where we incorporate other languages’ words into our own vocabulary. A few examples could be “tsunami”. One might say that this is a proper English word but it actually is a Japanese term consisting of 2 Japanese words; namely “tsu” which means harbour and “nami” which means wave in Japanese. We actually have a lot of borrowed words from Japanese like origami, sushi, sumo and so much more. Borrowed words however, are not specific to one language and can be from numerous other languages. The english language has words borrowed from Spanish (ex. cigar), Greek (ex. anonymous), Italian (ex. cartoon), and even Chinese (ex. Ketchup)!   

For today’s blog we will be talking about Japanese borrowed words from other languages. They are called garaigo and wasei eigo. There’s a high chance that you have encountered these words as a Japanese student but don’t necessarily know the right term for them. In Japanese, we call them “Garaigo” or “Wasei eigo”. We’ll talk more about the similarities and differences between them below.


Firstly, the right term for Japanese words that are borrowed is “Garaigo(外来語)”. Looking at the kanji, one can have a better idea on where the word originated from as it consists of three kanji characters which pretty much translates to words that come from outside Japan. 外 is read as “soto” which means outside, 来 read as “ki/rai” which means to come, and 語 read as “go” which means word. 

There are a few rules you would need to know about garaigo though. Foreign words are also adopted into the Japanese phonology which means they will, to an extent, sound Japanese and will be spelled with katakana–which signifies that a word is borrowed from another language. An example of this could be how “ケーキ(ke-ki)“ is the garaigo word for cake, which still sounds like “cake” but is adopted into Japanese pronunciation rules and phonology. 

Some garaigo words are also abbreviated to make them shorter as adhering to Japanese pronunciation and phonology rules make garaigo words longer. An example could be how the word “テレビ(terebi)” is the abbreviated version of television. One important thing you have to remember about garaigo is that they retain the meaning of the origin word to the Japanese loaned word. “アパート(apa-to)” is a good example of a garaigo word as means the same thing as i;s origin word, apartment.

A few examples can be found below.

GaraigoOrigin wordOrigin language
アルバイトArubaito (part-time job)Arbeit (work)German
タバコTabakoTabaco (tobacco/cigarette)Portuguese
プロフィルPurofuiruProfil (profile)French


Similarly to Garaigo, Wasei-eigo are Japanese words that are borrowed/loaned from other languages. Looking at the kanji, “Wasei eigo(和製英語)” literally translates to “Japanese made English” or in other terms, English words that have been coined and utilised in Japan. They are words that also adhere to the Japanese rules of phonology and pronunciation meaning that wasei-eigo words still tend to somehow sound like it’s origin word adopted as a Japanese word. Although they are derived from actual foreign words, one big difference it has from Garaigo is how Wasei-eigo words do not retain the meaning of its origin word. As we mentioned earlier, Wasei-eigo words are English words that have their definitions coined or derived in Japan so it has a different meaning to its origin word.

An example could be the word “ホッチキス(hocchikisu)”. This is actually one of the first things you learn in Japanese if you have tried self studying using books. The word itself is written in katakana which is already a sure sign that it is a borrowed word. If you’re wondering what borrowed English word is “Hochikiss”, it’s actually Hotchkiss, a brand that manufactured staplers back in the day! All the staplers had “Hotchkiss written on there hence the term being used for staplers.

A few more examples can be found below.

Wasei-eigoWasei eigo definition and usageOrigin word
マンションManshonCondominium/ room in a high rise buildingMansion
カンニングKanninguCheater/ cheatingCunning
コインランドリーKoin Randori-LaundromatTaxi
クーラーKu-ra-Air ConditionerCooler

We hope this somehow clears up the confusion between Garaigo and Wasei-eigo. It might be a bit confusing at first, but honestly this guide will help! Try googling more Garaigo and Wasei-eigo terms if you can as it’s easier to memorise and it’s also quite fun to learn!

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