Japenglish / Wasei-Eigo: A List Of Japanese False Friends

The original list was compiled by keiichiro, a Japanese national who’s spent a couple of years in the United States and noted a growing number of Japenglish (or Wasei-eigo) terms. Since the original website is down, I have recreated the list here and will keep updating it.

-Janglish (KATAKANA)--Janglish (Alphabet)-– English in the US –
When used for measurement, “hip” is used as hip in Japan. But hip is often used to describe buttocks there. In the US hip may be used to describe buttoks euphemistically. But mainly hip is used to mean the sides of the body below thw waist.
パンティストッキングpanty stockingpanty hose
I personally prefer “stocking” to “hose.” In U.K. “tights” is used.
スイミングパンツswimming pantsswimming trunks/shorts/suit
Bathing …. is also common. While I wear a suit at work, I don’t understand why I put on a “suit” to swim, too.
トレーナーtrainersweat shirts
ワイシャツwhite shirtdress shirt
Not that muffler cannot be used. But scarf is much more popular here.
カフスボタンcuffs buttoncuff link
モヒカンカットMohican cutMohawk
Why this difference? In U.K. “mohican” is used.
キーホルダーkey holderkey chain
グラマーglamour(ous)stacked/be really built
ジージャンG-janjean jacket
スタ(ジアム)ジャン(パー)stadium jumperjacket with team’s logo
マニキュアmanicurenail polish
オールバックall backswept back hair
フリーサイズfree-sizeone size fits all
サファリスタイルsafari stylecamouflage clothes
ハイソックスhigh socksknee-high socks
One-piece is used for women’s swimsuits in English.
In English whether your ears are pierce or not is not an issue. In Japan when your ears are pierced, earings are called “pierce”.
The Japanese word for pants is “ZUBON”, which is from Portuguese.
ペア・ルックpair-looksame outfit
ストレート・パーマstraight permrelaxer ?
エステティックサロンesthetic salona beauty salon offering esthetic services
At home?
In the kitchen
コーヒーミルcoffee millcoffee grinder
I don’t think “mill” is wrong. But “grinder” sounds more common.
フライパンfry panpan
オーブントースターoven toastertoaster oven
Range is used but I hear “stove” more frequently.
Electric goods
テレビゲームtelevi gamevideo game
ファミリーコンピュータFamily computerNintendo
スーパーファミコンSuper Fami-comSuper Nintendo
Nintendo named them diferently.
ビデオカメラvideo cameravideo camcorder
ビデオデッキvideo deckvideo cassette recorder
ラジオカセットradio cassetteportable stereo /boom box
Then what if the power is weak and the sound is monoral as the one I bought when I was in junior high?
プッシュホンpush phonetouch tone phone
シャープsharp signpound sign/number sign
This is about the name of the key. I wonder why people don’t call it “sharp” as in music. I’ve heard it is called “square” or “hash” in U.K.
フリーダイアルfree dialtoll free number
Freephone is used in U.K.
ポケットベルpocket bellpager / beeper
The word “pocket bell” is made by NTT, Japanese phone giant.
ナンバーディスプレーnumber displaycaller ID
Another creation by NTT, Japanese phone company.
アフターサービスafter-serviceservice after the sales
アフターケアafter-careservice after the sales
FDFDfloppy disk
This abbreviation is not so popular.
Home improvement/tools
This is most famous and infamous Janglish in Japan.
ワンルームマンションone-room mansionstudio apartment
フローリングflooringwooden floor
I guess it was from “concentric outlet.”
プラスドライバーplus(+) driverphilips head screwdriver
マイナスドライバーminus(-) driverregular/flathead screwdriver
Since I think using “+/-” is easy to understand, I wonder why American don’t say this way.
マイホームmy-homeowned house
ユニットバスunit bathprefabricated bath
Which contains a bathtub and a space where you wash yourself.
Reminder:You must not use soap in the bathtub in Japan.
メロドラマmelodramasoap opera
Melodrama in Japan is used to describe soap operas while almost all of “soap operas” seem to be melodramas.
ワイドショウwide-showtalk show / morning show
ベビーカーbaby carstroller
バギーbuggyumbrella stroller
Baby buggy is used for a bigger one.
ベビーベッドbaby bedbaby crib
When my friend asked room service to bring baby crib, he somehow received a baby cream. He was disappointed by his English skill.
ヘルスメーターhealth-meter(bathroom) scales
テーブルセンターtable centercenterpiece
at School and Office
OL(オフィスレディー)OL/office ladywomen working in white-collar work place mainly doing clerical work.
In US I sometimes see the existance of the word “OL” refferd as a symbol how unequally women in Japan are treated.
Hotchkiss is a name of the inventor.
ブラインドタッチblind touchtouch typing
ダイアルインdial-indirect number
セロハンテープcellophane tapeScotch tape
マジックテープmagic tapeVelcro
シャープペンシルsharp pencilmechanical pencil
ボールペンball penball point pen
When you have a exam at school. Not that you did.
リンチlynchbullying/abuse/beating somebody up
In UK “Seal” is also used.
-Janglish (KATAKANA)--Janglish (Alphabet)-– English in the US –
セーフティードライブsafety drivedriving safely
フロントガラスfront glasswindshield
I’ve heard “windscreen” is also used in UK.
バックミラーback mirrorrearview mirror
ハンドルhandlesteering wheel
クラクションKlaxoncar horn
ウィンカーwinkerblinker/turn signal
Indicator is used in U.K.
チャイルドシートchild seatcar seat
Bonnet in U.K. but hood in USA.
ガソリンスタンドgasoline standgas station
Petrol station is used in U.K.
Porsche is Porche. Ford is Ford. But Bentz is different. I’ve heard that called same in Germany.
I guess Chevrolet sounded Shi-vo-rei for Japanese when first imported.
ハイウェーhighwayexpress way / free way
Many of “highway” in U.S. have intersections and traffic lights. “Motorway” is used in U.K.
ナンバープレートnumber platelicense plate
Number plate is OK in U.K.
タンクローリーtank lorrytanker
パンクpunc(ture)flat tire
RVRVsports utility vehicle/SUV
Somehow, cars such as Jeep Cherokee and Ford Explorer are called RVs, not SUVs, in Japan.
In U.S. RV is also called a camper, which is much bigger than “micro bus” in Japan, and has a bed, a stove, and a shower inside.
キャンピングカーcamping cartrailer house? mobile home/RV?
パト(ロール)カーpatrol carsquad car/police car
patroll car is used but “squad car” seems more popular.
バンvan(station) wagon
Somehow these two are mixed in Japan. A wagon is as tall as a sedan and usually uses a same model name, such as “Camry wagon.” But a full-size van is much taller.
マイカーmy-carowned car
サイドブレーキside-brakeparking brake
オープンカーopen carconvertible
ペーパードライバーpaper driverperson with a driving licence who seldom drive
メット・インmetto-ina style of scooter which has a compartment under the seat to hold the crash helmet
スリーA3A(three A)triple A
ホームインhome-income home / is scored
ナイターnighternight game
フォアボールfour ballwalk
デッドボールdead ballhit by a pitch
After a batter is hit by a pitch, the ball is dead. Then runners can not move because it is a bead ball now.
タッチアップtouch-uptag up
タッチアウトtouch-outtag out
バックネットback netbackstop
フルベースfull basebases loaded
ランニングホームランrunning home runinside-the-park home run
テキサスヒットTexas hitTexas leaguer
スリーベース・ヒットthree-base hittriple
ツーベース・ヒットtwo-base hitdouble
エンタイトルド・ツーベース・ヒットentitled two-base hitground rule double
ハーラー・ダービーhurler derbythe competition on the number of winning games among professional baseball pitchers(?)
トップ・バッターtop batterleadoff
キャンプ・インcamp-instart/report to spring training
ショート、ミドル、ロングshort/long/middle holepar 3/5/4 hole
ニアピンnear pinclosest to pin
ドラコンdriving contestlongest drive
パー・オンpar-onhit the green in regulation
フック・ラインhook-lineright-to-left breaking putt
ブービーboobythe second from the last
ブービーメーカーbooby makerbooby
Pro wrestling
Thanks to Nemoto-san who gave me those words. Actually I have no idea of these words.
クイックターンquick turn (swimming)flip turn
How to turn at the end of the swimming pool
フライング・スタートflying (start)false start
ヨットyachtsail boat
Yacht in Japan is usually used to discribes a small one masted sail boat while “yacht” in English is for a small ship and not limited to a ship with sails.
マラソンmarathonjogging/long distance race
Please use “marathon” only when you run 42.195 km. Personally I do’t like them to call a 5k race as “xx city marathon” in Japan. You know it is much harder to finish 42km.
シーズンオフseason offoff-season
bobsleigh is English. But I’ve never heard it in TV during the Nagano Olympics. Every time “bobsled” was used.
In Olympic in Nagano most of speed skaters used this new type of skate shoes. “Klap” is a Dutch word for “slap” in English. (“Klapschaats” in Dutch) I don’t understand why Japanese use “slap”, which is not Japanese of cource, while “klap” is used in English.
バトンタッチbaton touchbaton pass
Your goal in a race is not the goal but the finish line.
ラストスパートlast-spurtlast hard drive/
dash to the finish line ?
バトンガールbaton girlbaton twirler
Eating and Drinking
コカコーラ ライトCoca-Cola Lite——
Coca-Cola Lite is a product of Coca-Cola(Japan) and is not sold in USA. It has 12kcal/100ml, while Diet Coke has no calories. (Note:Summer in 99, Diet Coke is being introduced in Japan)
フライドポテトfried potatoFrench fries
ポテトフライpotato fryFrench fries
Frites in France
This is about a style of restaurants.
Because Japanese people pronounce it as “biking”, the confusion is sometimes big.
Hotcake is used but “pancake” seems to be more popular.
プリンpuddingcaramel cream/caramel custared
Pudding in Japan is a kind of pudding. But because there are various puddings here, it is hard to order in restaurants unless you know the exact name.
アメリカンコーヒーAmerican coffeeweak coffee
Coffee served in the US is usually as weak as “American coffee” in Japan. I know a restaurant where they give us a choice of “French” or “American”. French one is strong as regular one in Japan.
At Starbucks Coffee they sell “cafe Americano, ” though it is made of espresso and hot water.
ソフトクリームsoft creamsoft serve ice cream
シュークリームchou (a la) cremecream puff
ハンバーグステーキhamburg steakchopped steak
アイスティーice teaiced tea
ミンチボールmince ballmeatball
モーニングサービスmorning serviceboiled egg, coffee and toast served as a breakfast combo menu
Let me assure you that there is nothing relevant to any religions.
カウンターcounterbar (in a restaurant)
-Janglish (KATAKANA)--Janglish (Alphabet)-– English in the US –
Pierrot is not wrong but much less popular than “clown.”
ジェットコースターjet coasterroller coaster
レントゲンRoentgen (picture)X rays (picture)
Roentgen is the physicist who discovered X rays.
モーニングコールmorning callwake-up call
サマータイムsummer timedaylight saving time
Summer time is used in U.K. In Australia “daylight saving time.”
We are talking about a name of the city in the U.S.
テレホンボックスtelephone boxtelephone booth
Even if you ask where the “toilet” is, you will be directed to the right place.
W.C.W.C.restroom, men’s/ladies’ room
Though I’m not sure if “water closet” is used as English word, I’ve never seen “W.C.” sign in the U.S.
ゲームセンターgame centervideo arcade
バックナンバーback numberback issues (of magazines)
DMDMdirect mail
This abbreviation is not commonly used.
ディープキスdeep kissFrench kiss
Then what in French?
スキンシップskinshipclose relationship/quality time
Because “Skinship” sounds for American to mean physical and sexual touching, it may cause a big misunderstanding. It may be one of the most harmful words.
ガードマンguardmansecurity guard
ゼロゼロセブン(007)zero zero sevendouble oh seven
Naive used in Japanese has a positive feeling while it has negative one in English.
テレビタレントTV talentTV personality
This abbreviation is not used.
マンツーマンman-to-manone-on-one (one-to-one)
Man-to-man defense is used. But when you teach something to a person, you teach him “one-on-one,” not “man-to-man.”
フェミニストfeministchivalrous/kind to women
If I remember correctly,in 70’s the word “feminist” meant something about women’s rights even in Japan. Somehow the meaning changed.
シルバーシートsilver-seatpriority seating
コストダウンcost-downcost reduction
キオスクkiosknews/food stand in JR stations
ミスコンテストmiss-contestbeauty pagent
イメージ・アップimage-upimprove one’s image
ボディ・チェックbody checkbody search /frisk
バージン・ロードvirgin roadaisle where a bride wallk
This is about a path where a bride walk with her father. Her virginity is not an issue, of course.
マスコミmass komi (communication)mass media
トランプtrumpplaying cards
ベッドタウンbed towncommuter/bedroom town
ドクターストップdoctor-stopthe doctor’s order to stop the fight
ハイ/オールド ミスhigh/old missspinster
ラブホテルlove hotelhotel for couples for short stays (mainly for a couple of hours)
マイペースmy-pacedoing things at one’s own pace
ワンパターンone-patternone-ideaed/repeating the same pattern
シンボルマークsymbol marksymbol
テーブルスピーチtable speachspeaches at parties
タイトルバックtitle backcredits
This is about the last part of movies where they show many names after most of audiences are out of the theater.
アルバイターarbeiterpeople who do part-time job
Part-time job is called “ARUBAITO” which is from German word “arbeit.”
フリーターfree-ter??people who do part-time job only/freelance worker
Not that the Japanese think Yankees are punks, of cource.
ハネムーン・ベビーhoneymoon babybaby conceived during a honeymoon
ゲームセンターgame centervideo game arcade
ライブステージlive stageperformance
ライブハウスlive housebar with live music/performance
Such as the one shown at the end of “A Bugs Life”.
キッチン・ペーパーkitchen paperpaper towel
The word energisch is a German word. It can’t be used in English.
ミラー・ボールmirror balldisco ball
ツー・ショットtwo-shotthe situation where you are only with your boy/girl friend
ブレイク(する)breakbecome a hit
FCFCfranchise chain