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Oxford English Dictionary Adds 23 Japanese Words in Latest Update


The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has expanded its lexicon with the addition of 23 Japanese words in its latest update, shedding light on the cultural richness and culinary diversity of Japan.

Among the newly added words are familiar culinary terms such as “katsu,” “donburi,” and “onigiri,” reflecting Japan’s influence on global cuisine. These additions highlight the importance of food and cooking in Japanese culture, with more than half of the borrowed words revolving around gastronomy.

Katsu has been added to the OED. Homemade Japanese Chicken Katsu with Cabbage and Lemon. Credits:

Notably, “katsu” stands out as a “boomerang word,” originating from the Japanese “katsuretsu,” which itself is derived from the English word “cutlet.” This linguistic phenomenon exemplifies the dynamic exchange between languages and cultures.

Furthermore, the OED update introduces terms related to Japanese art and hospitality. “Kintsugi,” the traditional Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, embodies the philosophy of embracing imperfection and acknowledging the beauty in flaws.

Omotenashi is the Japanese art of hospitality
Omotenashi is the Japanese art of hospitality – Credits:

Additionally, “omotenashi,” representing the concept of genuine Japanese hospitality and attentiveness to guests’ needs, underscores the importance of interpersonal relationships in Japanese society.

Collaborating with researchers from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, OED editors have meticulously curated this selection of Japanese words, enriching the English language with insights into Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

Alongside these Japanese additions, the latest OED update incorporates non-Japanese terms such as “Bible-bashing,” “ultra-processed,” and “bibliophilia,” reflecting the evolving linguistic landscape of modern society.

The content of this article has been adapted from a piece originally published by The Guardian.

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