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 gairaigo words have kanji?
(Arigatō does not come from Portuguese. See Is arigatō related to Portuguese "obrigado"?)
Here are some words from Portuguese which have survived until the present day.
Bateren, which means priest, father, came from Portuguese padre. (In modern Portuguese, this word is padre or pai.)
Biidoro, which means glass, came from Portuguese vidro.
Although Japanese now uses gurasu (グラス) from the English for "glass", the word biidoro survives in Japanese in the word biidama (ビー玉) for the small glass balls known as "marbles" in English.
Birōdo, which means velvet, came from Portuguese veludo.
The kanji 天鵞絨 may also be read as てんがじゅう, the on'yomi reading (Daijirin, Kōjien). It may also have come from the Spanish velludo (Kōjien lists both possiblities.)
|Bōro, bōru by 山岡 広幸|
Bōro, bōru, which means a type of cake or biscuit, came from Portuguese bolo.
Botan, which means button, came from Portuguese botão.
Buranko, which means swing (suspended seat), may have come from Portuguese Balanço.
Charumera, charumeru, which means a kind of woodwind instrument called a "shawm", came from Portuguese charamela.
Chokki, which means waistcoat (UK English) or vest (US English), may have come from Portuguese jaqueta. (In modern Portuguese, this word is colete.)
The source language and exact source of this word are uncertain.
Furasuko, which means flask, came from Portuguese frasco.
Igirisu, which means England/The United Kingdom, came from Portuguese inglez. (In modern Portuguese, this word is inglês.)
In Portuguese, inglês means English or Englishman, but in Japanese, igirisu generally means 'The United Kingdom' rather than England specifically.
Jōro, which means watering can, may have come from Portuguese jorro. (In modern Portuguese, this word is jarro.)
Kōjien says this origin is one theory. Daijirin also gives the Portuguese jorro as a possible origin.
Jiban, juban, which means underwear, came from Portuguese gibão.
In Portuguese, the word "gibão" means "jerkin" (in some cases, "doublet"), rather than "underwear".
Kapitan, which means captain, came from Portuguese capitão.
Kanakin, kanekin, which means unbleached muslin/calico, came from Portuguese canequim.
The word canequim is not used in present-day Portuguese.
Kappa, which means raincoat, came from Portuguese capa. (In modern Portuguese, this word is capa (de chuva).)
Karumera, which means caramel, came from Portuguese caramelo.
Daijirin but not Kōjien notes the Portuguese caramelo as a source for this word.
Karuta, which means playing cards, came from Portuguese carta. (In modern Portuguese, this word is cartas (de jogar).)
Kirishitan, which means Christian, came from Portuguese cristão.
Kirisuto, which means Christ, came from Portuguese Cristo.
|Kompeitō by Midori|
Kompeitō, which means a kind of star-shaped candy, came from Portuguese confeito.
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, which means cross, came from Portuguese cruz.
The kiri in pin kara kiri made is said to be a corruption of クルス.
Marumero, which means quince, came from Portuguese marmelo.
The kanji writing 木瓜 may also be read as ぼけ. See What does boke mean? for more on this word.
Meriyasu, which means hosiery, knitting, came from Portuguese meias.
In Portuguese, meias means "socks".
Miira, which means mummy (embalmed human), came from Portuguese mirra.
In Portuguese, mirra means "myrrh".
Oranda, which means Holland, came from Portuguese Olanda. (In modern Portuguese, this word is Holanda.)
Pan, which means bread, came from Portuguese pão.
Pin kara kiri made, which means completely, utterly, may have come from Portuguese pinta, cruz.
Rasha, which means felt, came from Portuguese raxa.
This is usually called feruto (フェルト) in modern Japan.
Rozario, which means rosary, came from Portuguese rosario . (In modern Portuguese, this word is rosário.)
Sabato, which means Saturday, came from Portuguese sábado.
Kōjien also notes the Dutch sabbat as a possible source for this word.
Saboten, which means cactus, may have come from Portuguese sabão.
This may have originated from Portuguese sabão, meaning "soap" (see shabon), in a formation from sabontei (石鹸体) meaning "soap-like object".
Sarasa, which means chintz, came from Portuguese saraça.
This word is not used in modern Portuguese.
Shabon, which means soap, came from Portuguese sabão.
Although the word sekken (石鹸) has replaced this in most uses, shabon is still used in the form shabon-dama, "soap bubble".
Shōro, which means weeping, came from Portuguese choro.
Tabako, which means tobacco, cigarettes, came from Portuguese tabaco.
Totan, which means zinc, came from Portuguese tutanaga.
Totan means "galvanized sheet iron" such as 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. It is considered a Chinese invention, though Portuguese inherited the word via Persian "tutia-nak", meaning "zinc oxide".
|Tempura by Kanko*|
Tempura, vegetables or fish deep fried in batter, may have come from Portuguese têmporas. (In modern Portuguese, this word is tempero.)
Tempero is Portuguese for spice or seasoning, but the Japanese word tempura means battered and deep-fried fish or vegetables.
Zabon, a kind of large citrus fruit called pomelo or shaddock (Latin name: Citrus maxima), came from Portuguese zamboa.
This fruit is also called buntan and bontan.
In the above lists, the symbol ▽ marks uncommon words, readings and variations.
This list was derived from posts by Christian Wittern, Tomoko Yamamoto, and Bart Mathias, and checked and compiled with help from Paul Blay.
Copyright © 1994-2022 Ben Bullock