Japan uses a lot of loan words from different languages, but you probably already knew that. The nice thing about these words is you can usually tell what they mean. For example, セーター (se-ta-) is “Sweater.” They kind of sound similar. Also, アメリカ (amerika) is “America.” I bet you could figure that out if you heard it. But, there are many English words that have been adopted by the Japanese language that got muddled up somewhere along the way. They don’t quite make sense (or don’t make sense at all), so if you heard them for the first time you’d think the person was talking about something else.

These are some of my favorites / the ones that are off by the most. Which ones surprised you?

1. Smart (スマート)


Oh, I know that one, I’m “smart.” WRONG. In Japanese, the word “smart” means “physically slender.” Here you thought that people were finally getting to know you for who you are on the inside. They’ve finally come to appreciate the genius inside your brain. Well, guess again smarty pants (whole new meaning now, right?). You’re just slender, which I suppose isn’t a bad problem to have.

English: Smart
Japanese: Slender, Slim, Stylish

2. Pants (パンツ)


I think this is a British English thing (you crazy Brits!), but in American English when you talk about pants you’re talking about the thing that goes on the outside of your pantsu. “Pants” in Japanese means underwear, especially panties. So, when you ask someone what kind of pants they’re wearing… well… you better know what you’re asking.

English: Pants
Japanese: Underwear, Panties

3. Ice (アイス)


This one kind of makes sense. At least they’re both cold, and at least they both start with the word “ice.” In Japanese, the word “ice” refers to “ice cream,” so if you’re looking for some delicious ice cream you’ll want to ask for ice. If you want ice-ice you’ll want to ask for こおり (koori).

English: Ice
Japanese: Ice Cream

4. Cunning (カンニング)


In English the word cunning refers to someone who is cunning. This is someone who is marked by or given to artful subtlety and deceptiveness. Now, I suppose that someone who is known to be “cunning” may also dabble in cheating, but in Japanese the word “cunning” refers to cheating. If you’re a cheater, you are cunning. A cunning plan? I have one.

English: Cunning
Japanese: Cheating

5. Service (サービス)


When you think of the word “service” you think of the thing that waiters try to give you when you’re at a restaurant. “The service here is terrible, no tip for you!” But, in Japanese a “service” is when you get something for free. For example, the chocolates aren’t usually free but today, for you, because I like your face… they’re service (aka you get them for free, you good looking frood you).

English: Service
Japanese: Free, Freebie

6. Snack (スナック)


Mmm, delicious Bugles. They are a type of snack. But, in Japanese when you talk about “snack” you’re talking about a social bar where people go and hang out and hit on each other. Sure, you probably get some tasty snacks while you’re there, but probably not the Bugle-craving solution you were hoping for.

English: Snack
Japanese: Social Bar

7. Viking (バイキング)


By Odin’s Raven! Vikings in Japan? Well, it’s not what you think. A “Viking” in Japanese is an all you can eat buffet. I thought it was called this because vikings eat all they want, but it turns out the story behind this word is a little bit longer than just that. So, if your friend asks you if you want to go to a viking, don’t run to go get your horned helmet. You’re going to an all you can eat buffet.

English: Viking
Japanese: All You Can Eat Buffet

8. Naive (ナイーブ)


If you call someone “naive” in an English speaking country, they probably won’t be super happy with you. In Japan, however, it’s a compliment. If you call someone “naive” in Japan, it means they’re delicate, sensitive, and gentle. That’s why there’s a whole line of products called “Naive” in Japan. They make your hair, face, etc., nice and naive.

English: Naive
Japanese: Soft, Gentle, Delicate, Sensitive

9. Mansion (マンション)


Oh man, what I would give to live in a mansion! Wait, what’s this apartment? I thought I was just getting an awesome deal! Oh no… In Japan, a “mansion” is an apartment. Certainly not “mansion” level, at least how English speakers think of it. You’ll see ads everywhere for mansions for rent. Now you know you’re not getting one of Nick Cage’s old houses. Just makes me want to take someone’s face… off.

English: Mansion
Japanese: Apartment

Also Worth Mentioning…

There are many other words just like this, but the above list includes my favorites. Let’s list off some other ones that I didn’t mention already. You’ll see that they tend to be a little less out there in terms of where it got lost in translation.

English: Machine (ミシン)
Japanese: Sewing Machine

English: Stove (ストーブ)
Japanese: Heater

English: Cooler (クーラー)
Japanese: Air Conditioner

English: Home (ホーム)
Japanese: Train Platform

English: Juice (ジュース)
Japanese: Soft Drink, Juice

English: Renewal (リニューアル)
Japanese: Renovation, Update

English: Desk (デスク)
Japanese: Person in Office

English: Mentality (メンタリティー)
Japanese: Intelligence

And, I’m sure there are plenty of others as well that I couldn’t think of or find. I suppose that’s just the price of any language. When you start mixing and matching, pieces go missing and show up somewhere else. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always entertaining to see.

Which of these did you think was the most interesting? Any of these trip you up personally? Naive took me a while to figure out.

  • simplyshiny

    My g-ma used to tell me I looked “smart in that dress” (or hat, or whatever) So smart can be used to mean ‘to look nice’ or something….I feel like I’ve heard it in movies from the 40s or 50s too…so that’s probably where it came from. I’ve also heard the word ‘tension’ used for what I can only assume means ‘excitement’. It really confused me at first to hear someone telling a smiling Idol that his ‘Tension was really up today’

  • Rikke

    Oh yes, I remember wondering how the people I stayed with in Japan could assume I lived in a mansion. “No, our house is not THAT big…”
    Also, I was puzzled by the use of “service” when I received something free from a store.

    I went to an onsen once, and I remember there was something strange about the conditioner/shampoo/soap; they used the words incorrectly, as far as I recall, but I can’t remember how.

  • SputnikSweetie

    Yeah, that’s a good one, too! テンション like “energy” or “spirits”.

  • Mescale

    there seems to be something strange with the

    i’m afraid.

  • junti

    By the way, パンツ IS used for pants also, but the pronounciation to the underwear パンツ is different. And I can’t distinguish the two pronounciations wich always causes some light trouble ;)
    But if i remember it right the underwear パンツ has the accent on the パ and the trouser / pants one has the accent on the ツ or more or less no accent…

  • rapchee

    the スマート girl is actually korean! D: although einstein wasn’t british/american either

  • koichi
  • slartibartfast

    Pants means underwear here in Britain, we would say trousers for what Americans call pants. Presumably they got it form here rather than America.

  • Greg

    The sewing machine one is a little bit wrong: it’s not マシン, it’s ミシン. (

    Also, ホーム can also mean “home”. Pretty sure that the ホーム to mean platform comes from leaving off the “plat”, so it’s actually “form”.

  • x_stei

    Ohno Satoshi!!

    Thanks so much for explaining these. I knew about them vaguely, but it’s nice to see it listed and explained so well. ありがとう!

  • そら(^^)♥

    was about to comment on that as well lol she’s a member of t-ara right?

  • testyal1


    And pantsu.

  • Butterfly

    Could it be that some of these words seem strange, since their actually loan words from other languages? Japanese has loan words from a lot of languages, so I think that might be possible. For example, the German word for ice cream is “Eis”, which can mean both “normal” ice and ice cream and is also pronounced like “ice”. So アイス could actually be a loan word from German.

    On another note about loan words from German and this topic. アルバイト (or short バイト) is also a loan word from the German word “Arbeit”, which just means “work” and is usually used to describe ones real job, not just a side job/part-time job. That’s kind of confusing for Germans who learn Japanese ;)

  • daniel

    But サービス can also mean service in the same sense as English right?

  • Trve ∆nnie Wu

    I was probably a little too excited to see that photo of Edmund Blackadder. Cunning indeed!

  • Shollum

    Well, according to some 18+ resources, it can mean ‘those’ kinds of service, if that’s what you wanted to know.

  • henderson101

    Let’s see:

    Smart: this can be used in English to mean “stylish” or “well dressed”, and in some British English dialects it also means “Good” or “Enjoyable” e.g. “She wore a smart dress”, “Your uniform looks smart”, “The Nintendo DS is well smart, I love it.” (here “well” is a word similar to the US usage of “real” or maybe general “very”.) I guess the US would have used “swell” in a similar way previously. I also suppose this came from military usage, where “smart dress” was another name for a dress uniform? Who knows.

    Pants: this is just pure British English. You American’s are incorrect, trousers go on the outside, pants are undergarments. You really do embarrass yourselves on this one ;-)

    Ice: An Ice lolly in British English can be either a frozen juice type of deal (polsicle?) or it can be made from Ice cream (Google “Mini Milk”for an example.) So I’m guessing this is either just Japanese selectively taking a word or simplifying the term.

    Cunning: I don’t agree with your definition of cunning. It also means to be “deceitful” or to gain advantage by being deceitful or evading capture – which is much closer to “cheating” than your definition. From : “Cunning implies a shrewd, often instinctive skill in concealing or disguising the real purposes of one’s actions”.

    Service: no idea – this one makes no sense to me. Something to do with restaurants?

    Snack: this is going to be related to bar snacks and misinterpretation by the Japanese as to what the English term referred to.

    Viking: you already discussed this one I think.

    Naive: is this not just a Japanese specialisation? Are you sure one meaning hasn’t just prevailed over others? The original Latin meant “natural, native, made by nature and not artificial” and lists synonyms as “simple, unaffected, unsuspecting, artless, guileless, candid, open, plain.” I can see where the Japanese version comes from that.

    Mansion: That sounds a lot like another British English usage. A mansion can be an apartment block (block of flats in Brit usage.) This mainly comes from the fact that it makes them sound more impressive than they otherwise would be ;-)

    Then the others:

    1) English: Machine (マシン) Japanese: Sewing Machine
    This makes sense to me.It’s just a typical Japanese simplification of a phrase by removing words or syllables.

    2) English: Stove (ストーブ) Japanese: Heater
    A stove in old times was the primary heating source in many British houses. Look at the Aga for reference.

    3) English: Cooler (クーラー) Japanese: Air Conditioner

    This makes sense to me. It’s just using a term that might be applied to the application of an air Con.

    4) English: Home (ホーム) Japanese: Train Platform
    This one makes no sense to me.

    5) English: Juice (ジュース) Japanese: Soft Drink, Juice

    In the UK, Juice can mean something other than actual fruit juice. We certainly get “sparkling juice drinks” that an American would call a soda.

    6) English: Renewal (リニューアル) Japanese: Renovation, Update

    This sounds like British usage again. We “renew” a season ticket or subscription, “renew” a library book (when we want to borrow it for a longer period) and talk of “urban renewal” when discussing updating or renovating an area in a city. I’m not clear if US English uses the first two versions.

    7) English: Desk (デスク) Japanese: Person in Office

    British English: Desk job, some one who works at a desk all day. Is that not used in the states too?

    8) English: Mentality (メンタリティー) Japanese: Intelligence

    colloquially, Mental means “insane” in British English e.g. “Koichi is well mental, he don’t know nothing about British English.” It can also mean “crazy” or “awesome”, as in “The roller-coaster was mental, I thought I would chuck up me guts half way round.” But, we also talk about Mental Health, when speaking of someone’s mental capacity, so I guess that’s where it comes from.

  • koichi

    Smartness knows no race

  • henderson101

    Aha! That makes more sense. Yeah, “form” is probably the correct term.

  • henderson101

    Maybe “service” comes from English notion of “good service”? Going above and beyond the norm to please the customer? That makes sense to me.

  • Mirta Brkulj

    Fun post and definitely sth to remember!
    Reminds me of when I found out the Dalmatian (dialect of Croatian) word for ferry “vapor” (pronounced sth like [vʌpOr]) is actually the English word vapour [ˈveɪpə(r)]. That was what steamboat ferries were called in Dalmatia and the name stuck even though the ferries don’t run on steam anymore…
    バイキング is my favorite, the idea of ‘viking’ being something to eat just sounds awesome.

  • Kerensa

    Around Kumamoto the word they use for slender is “suratto”.

  • derioderio

    Platform -> ホーム is really just an abbreviation of プラトホーム, the katakana-ization of platform.

  • Rawr!

    Does someone know the difference between アパート and マンション? Is there one? In class, we learned the former and latter, but no one really explained a working difference…

  • Lily Queen

    Stoves were the primary heaters in American houses until the invention of central heating, too.

    “home” is just shortening from “platform” — “puratohomu”.

    Renewal, e.g., urban renewal, works that way in US English too, but the difference here is really that in Japanese it’s used for “update” “remodel” and everything else. Store closed for renewal. Check out our website renewal. It’s just used far more broadly…

    Yes, we also say desk job and even “Ask the front desk.”I’d need a usage example to see what the big difference is here.

  • MrsSpooky

    Yaaay for Blackadder’s picture under “cunning”! You just upped your geek cred considerably with that. xD

  • MrsSpooky

    I saw it too. LOL

  • jonniez

    The “ice” bit reminds me of the German “Eis” (pronounced the same)–means both ice and ice cream.

  • Jessica Davey

    Yeah, I watched the Chobits “pantsu” episode several times and never saw anything wrong with it (I mean, there’s probably lots of things wrong with Chobits, but “pantsu” made sense). Then I realised that I’m just an American who has been in Britain too long…if you start talking about your pants here too much people think you’re “mental.”

  • Johannes Thomsen

    But contrarily, sweet 甘い means naive? What is this madness!

  • piderman

    I suppose バイキング can also be read as “biking”. Very fast buffet.

  • Phillip

    I was about to write something similar along the lines of British English origin, but you got in first. But my take on ホーム is that it is an abbreviation of プラットフォーム、with ホーム being more euphonious. It might be tempting and quite easy to single Japanese out. There seem to be many words we are not au fait with (check the original French meaning). Think about that next time you are quietly sipping your latte – what the Italians put into some of their coffes at certain times of the day, not a type of coffee.

  • shiro

    That’s the case for some words, but not for ice cream. It’s just a shortening of アイスクリーム – which they also use.

  • shiro

    A マンション is generally thought of being a high-rise concrete and steel building in a big city, while an アパート can be any old thing. However, for obvious reasons the word ‘mansion’ has sort of a more luxurious feel to it, so any bum land owner can even call his meager 3 floor building out in the boonies a マンション.(my landowner for example).

  • shiro

    My personal favorite is スタミナ (stamina) – a type of cooking using lots of meat. lol

  • Raindrops

    To add to this chap’s “ice lolly” we have words like “choc ice” here in the UK too, where the “ice” is innately understood to mean “ice cream” rather than a horrible block of frozen water covered in a thin layer of chocolate. Even our cuisine isn’t that bad!

    Interesting post, though!

  • レオン ˘( O ¸o)/˘

    Awesome gif. Saved. :D

    BTW, I think that you got sewing machine wrong. It’s actually ミシン, not マシン. actually does mean machine, whereas ミシン is the sewing machine. :P

  • Ludwig Nyman

    “Home = Train Platform” made me laugh, but it’s not only the Japanese who do that, other countries do it too, a lot worse actually. Search German Amazon (.de) for “bodybag”, they are a special kind of sling-bag, on .com you actually tend to find what it’s supposed to be – body bags. If a German person tells you they have a soar throat from all that cheering they where doing at the public viewing, then that’s perfectly fine, they usually don’t refer to the public viewing of corpses, but (sporting) events, watched on big screens in public places. Handy also doesn’t mean practical it means cellphone. Wacky what people do with other countries languages. *scratches head*

  • Alex

    My favourite has to be スラット。
    Which on first thoughts seems to be one of these on your list, but actually under investigation seems to have a logical meaning. Yes at first I thought this had come from the english word slut. In retrospect, I think it comes from the english word slat, a thin plank of wood.

  • Bobby Judo

    I always balk at “Dandy” which to Japanese means stylish, or well-groomed man. I don’t know any guy, even a self-proclaimed metrosexual who would be happy being called a dandy.

  • Bobby Judo

    Oh and stoic, which I guess is used to mean “really into something.”

  • Shaun

    Surprised you didn’t mention “テンション”

  • J

    Japan. Where the beavers run particularly wild and free. And wooly.

  • okama

    but… that’s exactly what ‘dandy’ means – a well-presented young man, who perhaps has a little too much free time/money and good connections on hand.

  • UHM85

    Sewing Machine = ミシン

  • Raymond Chuang

    Here’s an interesting one: “wanman” (ワンマン), found on placards printed on white lettering with green background displayed on many JR trains running in rural areas. It’s essentially a transliteration of the word “one man,” meaning the train only has the engineer operating the train and you either put the appropriate fare into the fare box or (if you hold a valid Japan Rail Pass) show the pass to the engineer when you get on the train.

  • zoomingjapan

    *LOL* I think I’ve been in Japan too long already. None of these are new to me or surprise me. On the contrary – as I’m not a native speaker of English some of them make more sense to me in the “Japanese version”. ^-^;

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Also, アップ means down.

  • uiggu

    ‘Sewing machine’ is ミシン, not マシン.

  • Chris

    Interestingly enough, Koreans use cunning (커닝) and service (서비스) in the exact same way. Konglish is quite entertaining as well, but I don’t think they have anything that can top Viking.

  • linguarum

    And just to add – since クーラー refers to air conditioning, エアコン (air con) in Japan means a temperature control unit, which can produce hot air or cold air. This is an important distinction to make. My Japanese wife kept turning on the エアコン in winter when she first came to America. :-)

  • Afoofoo

    I was about to say that, good thing I read the comments to see if anyone mentioned it first! The panties “pantsu” stresses on “tsu” and pants “pantsu” stresses on “pa”. ^o^ Just curious. how did you find out the intonation is different? For me, a fanmail was being read at some ikemen haiyuu talk show and the sender asked if they prefered skirts or pants on girls, and the actor read it as panties! XD

  • junti

    I just looked it up in the NHK Pronounciation Dictionary and it is, like i thought it is, that the underwear パンツ stresses on パ and then falls in intonation. But the trousers パンツ can do the same, but also can stress on ンツ which is, what i really hear often. Called it more or less no stress, sorry ;)

  • Gakuranman

    Ah, this brings back memories of Tofugu x Gakuranman Edufire classes. So many strange Katakana words :). Love the Blackadder reference!

  • Gakuranman

    It’s still rare enough as to be best ignored, in my humble opinion. A quick Google search for パンツ will show you the ratio on that! No Japanese person I have heard has ever used the word to mean what we commonly know as trousers, except perhaps in a clothes shop. But if you’re willing to try the pronunciation thing in normal conversation, I wish you luck! :p.

  • Bobby Judo

    I guess my issue is more that they use it as a compliment, where in the West, I don’t think it is one. It’s the same as a fop. It has a shallow, and I think, effeminate connotation?

  • junti

    I’m willing but I don’t get it anyway, haha :)
    But really, like, the most people around me use it, and it’s not like there very close to foreigners or something. I just think the trousers パンツ is the new cool word for ズボン. Like even the moms in my neighboorhood say the trousers パンツ one so…
    Is ist 方言 or is it some upcoming 流行語? I have no idea, but it gets me into trouble! (though i like パンツ ;)

  • shiro

    How many Japanese people do you talk to?? I hear パンツ being used as “trousers” all the time. Obviously if you are going to do a Google image search for ”パンツ” in Japanese you are going to get mainly softcore porn, I mean this is the internet, just think about that for a second

  • Alexander Richards

    not really, that’s just social class stereotype on top of the English meaning. dandy is just a wealthy pretty boy. Of course that part isn’t going to translate one fore one two a different culture that has different social priorities.

    Do illustrate it take the female counterpart to a dandy, a debutante. has all same stereotype bag of dandy to those that have issues with the idle rich, However in other social circle it simply a social step of growing up.

  • Mordoc

    English: Home (ホーム)
    Japanese: Train Platform

    This one actually makes sense if you take into account that Japanese didn’t always use フォ for “fo” sounds from English, instead they originally used ホ. ホーム is actually a shortening of プラトホーム which comes directly from “platform”.

  • akranis

    Wait, so でんきストーブ (electric heater), is really electric stove?

  • Gakuranman

    Well, I live here and use Japanese all day in the office. Admittedly, the topic of lower-body clothing doesn’t exactly come up very often though! It’s probably fair to say that パンツ is used for trousers and other long-legged clothing when there is a qualifier in front of it: ショートパンツ or something. I don’t feel like it’s commonplace to use パンツ alone to refer to trousers though, or if it is becoming so, it’s certainly a word that is at risk of confusion without some context.

  • Gakuranman

    It’s quite possible that it’s an up-and-coming buzzword, yea. I don’t hang around with school/university students very often. It must really depend a lot on context :p.

  • Gakuranman

    While certainly not definitive, these threads sum it up quite well.

    Seems if anything to be a sign of the times that all these loanwords are popping up on the clothing scene.

  • Tampopo

    Doesn’t smart also mean to hurt? Like “Ow, that smarts!” This could be an antiquated usage. And points for Ohno. :3

  • Tim Wilkinson

    Mansion as a block of flats is new to me. It seems that it is mainly used to describe fancy Victorian / Edwardian red-brick blocks. Still, makes the Japanese use of the word seem a lot less strange now.

    I’m pretty sure by law, juice can’t be used in the UK on labels to describe anything that isn’t 100% fruit juice. That’s why everything says “juice flavoured drink” or similar. Describing pokkari sweat as juice is pretty far from English usage, but probably no stranger than calling a sofa bed a futon ;-)

  • Tim Wilkinson

    I don’t think service is ever used to mean a free gift. I remember when I first arrived in Japan and was handed a doraemon pen by a waitress in a yakiniku restaurant. She said “service” as she handed it to me. I thought it was strange as she hadn’t “done” anything for me.

  • bizshop

    Snack came into being as a word for a small bar to get around Japanese law. There was at one time a law (don’t know if it still is in effect) that bars can only be open certain hours. However a place that served food (snacks) as well as booze fell outside this law. Thus they developed a relatively limited food menu and could stay open longer.

  • Brennan Kulp

    When you want to talk about christmas lights, you say “イルミネーション”!

  • jonmanjiro

    Many of these are actually correct usages of the flavor of English spoken in the UK and other parts of the English speaking world. No one has a monopoly on the English language. Now we’re seeing some of these Japanese-English phrases make their way into our own American English (level up,ETC card, heartful, etc.). Only living things grow. English is a living language.

  • Jennifer

    In Serbian they use ‘nervous’ when English speakers would say ‘frustrated.’ Sort of similar to your naive comment. I would get even more “nervous” every time someone told me not to be, haha — naturally, because I wasn’t nervous, I was pissed off! :) I don’t know how many times I told people there that ‘nervous’ in English means ‘scared’ and only scared. This seemed to trip them up completely, too! Great article!

  • hiraganamoji

    hahhahah funny to think ur getting a mansion then be shocked bec its really not.. i didnt kno wthere can be so many english words that will mean something else in japanese. thanks for the funny yet very informative article:-)

    btw, for people who maybe interested in learning japanese more.

    theres a new game that is launching soon – learn hiragana and kana while fighting against evil!!.

  • sleet01

    As I understand it, it was “Smorgasbord” -> “That Viking thing” -> “Viking” -> バイキング

  • sleet01


  • sleet01

    I’m relatively certain that the Japanese use of “Desk” to refer to a person in a specific job or office (which, by the way, I have never heard before) comes from the use of the word in newspapers; the “sports desk” or “foreign desk” would have been the person or office in charge of editing articles related to those topics.

  • Emre

    Hey Koichi I wanna join Mixi but I haven’t got Japanese cell phone :/ Can you help me ?

    contact me from ,

  • polyglotsoftware

    I always thought ホーム came from an abbreviation of platform -> form -> ホーム and what would in modern transliteration be フォーム.

  • Ewok

    There are two uses of すらっと – one is a modification of すらり which simply means long, slender or stretched, the other is a straight copy of “slat” and is used in the same way (slats on a fence, blind, shutter, etc).

  • Ewok

    This is correct. There are a significant number of loanwords which are slightly mangled in katakana because when they were first changed over that was how it was done. Japanese dictionaries will generally make it clear that 駅のホーム is from the original word kanaisation of プラットホーム

  • Leon

    The use of “desk” in Japanese is also done in English, but far less now. The title refers to the position, such as the “help desk”, “front desk” or “information desk”, rather than the position of the person working there.

  • Ewok

    スタミナ has the same meaning – 精力. The idea behind a “stamina” dish is that it is filling and will give you the energy (stamina) compared to a smaller or lighter dish

  • Ewok

    From the Japanese word すらり

  • rapchee

    actually i have no idea i just wanted to find out who she is, so i could see some more of her

  • そら(^^)♥

    her name’s hyomin :D

  • Raphael Barros

    Shouldn’t it be プラトフォーム or just フォーム?

  • Felipe O

    Vikings didn’t use horned helmets.

  • Emi

    I was about to post the very same. A lot made sense to me when thinking in terms of British English. The only one’s that didn’t was Cunning (which to us in most parts of the UK means to deceive/cheat), and Naive (which we would take as meaning innocent/childlike/youthful). Oh, and mansion to mean flats/apartments, I don’t get that one at all. Though i suppose the word mansion can also mean large property, but i would expect to see a manor of some sort.

  • Emi

    I grew up on mint choc-ice’s. Every Sunday my mum would get them out of the freezer after tea. Never again..

  • Ilyas

    You people must be a 4chan frequent.

  • Jonadab

    > Mansion as a block of flats is new to me.

    The word “mansion” has a long and storied history. In Elizabethan English, for example, it just meant a place where somebody lived, even if it was a tumbledown lean-to shack. It was used much like the modern words “house”, “home”, maybe even “flat” or “pad”, or especially “dwelling” — and like “dwelling” it could also refer to the act of living in a place; in fact, that may have originally been the primary meaning.

    The word “mansion” did not imply affluence until some time in the seventeenth century.

    However, I’m pretty sure Japanese gets the word マンション from French. (English got it from Old French, several centuries earlier.)

    Compare also “pension” versus ペンション, another case where both English and Japanese got the word from French and use it with quite different nuances.

  • Brad Garrett

    The “Face Off” joke under #9 made my day.

  • Kyle Englishman

    What if you transliterated “カンニング” as Conning rather than cunning? Then it would be more like cheating

  • Andy Williams

    In a perfect world it would be, but the English F gets mixed in with the H’s so ホ and フォ get interchanged, or maybe it was just the way things were put in katakana when the word started to be used.

  • Jacinda Wilson

    I got caught with “pants” when I was in Japan – I got really bad food poisoning and ended up in hospital and they wanted to take an xray. They gave me the cloak and told me to remove all metal etc – because it was my stomach they were xraying I asked if they wanted me to take off my “pants” (meaning jeans) to which she kept replying no keep your pants on take your zubon off … somehow after having vomited for 7 hours straight my mind wasn’t thinking too clearly at 2am … I took a gamble and fortunately got it right …. XD

  • Jacinda Wilson

    As a female who frequented a Japanese public bath … I can massively attest to that … I felt naked … like … really naked…

  • M G

    My japanese teacher mentioned that マンション implied “the cost of マン・万” and hence fit into the ‘apartment category’, while the older/costlier one was “oku”shon… (which would probably fit into the English ‘Mansion” category

  • Kima

    4) English: Home (ホーム) Japanese: Train Platform
    This one makes no sense to me.

    Maybe it was made up by a homeless person.

  • Kashii-chan

    ahhhhhh that explains why the workers at the arcades would come up to us, rearrange the plush toys for an easy win, then say service! they were so nice.. *u*

  • Paulo

    Thanks for the information… I guess all languages has this type of changes as well, and it’s good to know that there is a blog that emphasizes this one.. xD

  • Joseph Rabaja

    No wonder some words seems familiar yet strange, I got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

  • Kim

    That means when rich people say 私のホームはマンションです, they must be totally wrong.

  • Person

    “British English” – AKA “English”