Which Japanese words come from Portuguese?

Many Portuguese words entered Japanese when Jesuit priests from Portugal introduced Christian ideas and things to the Japanese during the Muromachi period (1337-1573). Here is a list of some of them which have survived until the present day. Although these words are all gairaigo, some of them have kanji. See Why do some words have ?.

(Arigatō does not come from Portuguese. See Is related to Portuguese "obrigado"?)

Words of disputed origin

The origin of some words such as saboten, "cactus" and buranko, "swing" is disputed, but according to some explanations they may have come from Portuguese.

List of words of Portuguese origin

Here is a list of some words from Portuguese which have survived until the present day.

Japanese (rōmaji) Japanese (kanji/kana) Original Portuguese (from Kōjien) Modern Portuguese English Notes
bateren 伴天連
padre padre, pai priest, father
biidoro ビードロ vidro vidro glass
birōdo 天鵞絨
veludo veludo velvet 天鵞絨 may also be read as てんがじゅう, the on'yomi reading (Daijirin, Kōjien). May have come from the Spanish velludo (Kōjien lists both options)
bōro, bōru ボーロ
bolo bolo cake

botão botão button
charumera, charumeru ▽哨吶
charamela charamela shawm
chokki チョッキ jaqueta colete waistcoat (UK English); vest (US English). Source language and exact source word uncertain.
furasuko フラスコ frasco frasco flask
Igirisu イギリス inglez inglês England/The UK In Portuguese, inglês means English or Englishman. In Japanese, igirisu means 'The United Kingdom'.
iruman ▽入満
irmão irmão brother Term used in early Japanese Christianity; missionary next in line to become a priest
jōro 如雨露
jorro jarro watering can Kōjien says this origin is one theory. Daijirin also gives the Portuguese jorro as a possible origin.
jiban, juban 襦袢
gibão gibão underwear In Portuguese, the word "gibão" means "jerkin" (in some cases, "doublet"), rather than "underwear", the latter too generic a term.
kapitan ▽甲比丹
capitão capitão captain
kanakin, kanekin 金巾
canequim unbleached muslin/calico Not used in present-day Portuguese.
kappa 合羽
capa capa (de chuva) raincoat
karumera カルメラ caramelo caramelo caramel Daijirin but not Kōjien notes the Portuguese caramelo as a source for this word.
karuta 歌留多
carta cartas (de jogar) playing cards
kirishitan 切支丹
cristão cristão Christian
kirisuto 基督
Cristo Cristo Christ Also kurisuto クリスト
konpeitō 金米糖
confeito confeito A kind of star-shaped candy. The modern Portuguese word "confeito" more commonly means "sugar-plum" or "comfit", though it also signifies a small candy made with hardened melted sugar, to which various dyes or ingredients are added, sold in wrapped paper. In this case, it is also called "rebuçado". "Confeito" is also related to the English word "confetti".
kurusu クルス cruz cruz cross See ピンからキリまで, キリ is said to be a corruption of クルス.
marumero 木瓜
marmelo marmelo quince 木瓜 may also be read as ぼけ.
meriyasu 莫大小
meias meias hosiery, knitting In Portuguese, meias means "socks".
miira 木乃伊
mirra mirra mummy (embalmed human) In Portuguese, mirra means "myrrh".
oranda 和蘭
Olanda Holanda Holland
pan 麺麭
pão pão bread
pin kara kiri made ピンからキリまで pinta, cruz pinta, cruz completely, utterly The pin and kiri are said to have come from Portuguese.
rasha 羅紗
raxa raxa felt
rozario ロザリオ rosario rosário rosary
sabato サバト sábado sábado Saturday Kōjien also notes the Dutch sabbat as a possible source for this word.
sarasa 更紗
saraça saraça chintz Not used in modern Portuguese.
shabon シャボン sabão sabão soap Commonly used in the word shabon-dama, "soap bubble", in present-day Japanese.
shōro ショーロ choro choro weeping
subeta スベタ espada espada Sword (in playing cards, original use)
Ugly faced woman
Worthless card (in a type of card game)
Boring person
Not in very common use in modern Japanese.
tabako 煙草
tabaco tabaco tobacco Tabako also means "cigarettes" in present-day Japanese.
totan トタン tutanaga tutanaga zinc Now used to mean galvanized sheet iron (e.g. corrugated roofing material) in Japanese. In Portuguese, "tutanaga" is a whitish alloy made of copper, zinc and nickel to which bits of iron, silver or arsenium are added (i.e., not simply 'zinc'). It is considered a Chinese invention, though Portuguese inherited the word via Persian "tutia-nak", meaning "zinc oxide".
tempura 天麩羅
têmporas tempero tempura Tempero is Portuguese for spice or seasoning, but the Japanese word tempura means battered and deep-fried fish or vegetables.
zabon 朱欒
zamboa zamboa shaddock

Here a ▽ marks uncommon words, readings and variations.

Words from modern Portuguese

Japanese romaji Japanese kana Portuguese Meaning Notes
shurasuko シュラスコ churrasco Brazilian barbecue From Daijirin.


This list was derived from posts by Christian Wittern, Tomoko Yamamoto, and Bart Mathias, and checked and compiled with help from Paul Blay.

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