The Dutch were one of the first European nations to trade with Japan, starting in the 1600s. During Japan's closed period, from the 17th to 19th century, the Dutch were the only European nation allowed to trade with Japan. Because the Dutch introduced new goods like rubber, glass, cork, and nickel, and technologies, such as lamps, pistols, scalpels, and pens to Japan, the Japanese used the Dutch names of the new things. Words from Dutch such as kōhii (コーヒー) for coffee, and biiru (ビール) for beer are still used.
The following common modern Japanese words which come from Dutch. Some of these also have kanji, which were added to the Dutch pronunciations by the Japanese. See Why do some gairaigo words have kanji?
Arukōru, which means alcohol, came from Dutch alcohol.
Asubesuto, which means asbestos, came from Dutch asbest.
Biiru, which means beer, came from Dutch bier.
Bōruban, which means drill press, came from Dutch boor-bank.
Buriki, which means tin, tin plate, came from Dutch blik.
Dansu, which means dance, came from Dutch dans.
Dokku, which means dock, dry dock, came from Dutch dok.
This is commonly used in the expression ningen dokku (人間ドック), a health check.
Garasu, which means glass, window glass, came from Dutch glas.
A glass is called koppu (こっぷ), also from Dutch.
Gasu, which means gas, came from Dutch gas.
Gomu, which means rubber or gum, came from Dutch gom.
Hisuterii, which means hysteria, came from Dutch hysterie.
Hoppu, which means hop (the plant), came from Dutch hop.
Inki, which means ink, came from Dutch inkt.
Kaban, which means bag, came from Dutch kabas.
Kanfuru, which means camphor, came from Dutch kamfer.
Karan, which means tap or faucet, came from Dutch kraan.
Kiniine, which means quinine, came from Dutch kinine.
Kokku, which means cook (the person) or chef, came from Dutch kok.
Konpasu, which means compass (drawing instrument), came from Dutch kompas.
The word konpasu was also used for the direction-finding compass.
Kōhii, which means coffee, came from Dutch koffie.
Koppu, which means drinking glass, came from Dutch kop.
Koruku, which means cork, came from Dutch kurk.
Manto, which means cloak, came from Dutch mantel.
Marariya, which means malaria, came from Dutch malaria.
Morumotto, which means guinea pig, came from Dutch marmot.
The guinea pig was first introduced to Japan by the Dutch in 1843.
Masuto, which means mast (of a ship), came from Dutch mast.
Mesu, which means scalpel, came from Dutch mes (knife).
Moruhine, which means morphine, came from Dutch morfine.
Nikkeru, which means nickel, came from Dutch nikkel.
|Oburāto by 西表カイネコ|
Oburāto may have come from Dutch oblaat.
An oburāto is a disc of thin starch used to wrap sweets or medicine. The origin of the Japanese word is disputed. It may also have come from German Oblate. See Which Japanese words come from German?
Orugōru, which means music box, came from Dutch orgel.
The Dutch word "orgel" means "organ".
Otenba, which means a tomboy, may have come from Dutch ontembaar.
The Japanese word "otemba", meaning a tomboy, is suggested to have come from the Dutch word "ontembaar", meaning untameable. However, this may just be a coincidence.
Pen, which means pen, came from Dutch pen.
Penki, which means paint, came from Dutch pek.
The Dutch word "pek" means "pitch", a substance like tar used for coating ships. Penki originally referred to coating used to protect and waterproof wooden ships. It now means paint.
Pinsetto, which means tweezers, came from Dutch pincet.
Pisutoru, which means pistol, came from Dutch pistool.
Pompu, which means pump, came from Dutch pomp.
Rampu, which means lamp, came from Dutch lamp.
Randoseru, which means knapsack, came from Dutch ransel.
In modern Japanese, randoseru is used only for the leather school satchels worn by Japanese elementary school children. See How is Japanese writing taught to Japanese children? for more about the Japanese education system.
Ransetto, which means lancet, came from Dutch lancet.
Renzu, which means lens, came from Dutch lens.
Retoruto, which means retort, a container used for heating, came from Dutch retort.
In Japanese this is often used in the form retoruto shokuhin (レトルト食品), which are foods stored in containers called "retort pouches".
Safuran, which means saffron, came from Dutch saffraan.
Shiroppu, which means syrup, came from Dutch siroop.
Supoito, which means pipette, came from Dutch spuit.
This originates from a misunderstanding of the Dutch word "spuit", which actually means "spout" or "syringe" rather than "pipette".
Sukoppu, which means spade or shovel, came from Dutch schop.
Zukku, which means canvas cloth; plimsolls, came from Dutch doek.
In modern Japanese, zukku (ズック) usually refers to a kind of shoe worn by school children, also known as uwabaki (上履き).
Canvas cloth is called hanpu (帆布) or kyanbasu (キャンバス).
Thanks to Ger de Groot, Gert Kok, Jim Breen, Rob Dieters, Tanaka Tomoyuki, and Jorg Entzinger for additions to this list
Copyright © 1994-2020 Ben Bullock