Wikipedia mentions several English words that have been reborrowed from Japanese:

  • Anime comes from animation and has been reborrowed into English to mean Japanese-style animation.
  • Puroresu comes from professional wrestling and is a term for Japanese-style professional wrestling.
  • Kosupure comes from cosplay (an abbreviation of costume play) and refers to the practice of dressing in costumes of anime and video game characters.

Do you know other examples of word reborrowings from Japanese or other languages back into English, or vice versa?

  • I've never heard "puroresu", and I always say "cosplay" if I mean cosplay. :P
    – Jon Purdy
    Dec 3, 2010 at 5:31
  • Could someone with enough reputation please mark this question as a community wiki?
    – Jaime Soto
    Dec 3, 2010 at 14:49

3 Answers 3


From the French

  • paquebot, comes from the English packet-boat in 1641, use to mean mailboat, but now is used to describe a ship, liner, was reborrowed with the meaning mailboat in 1894.
  • redingote, comes from the English riding-coat in 1725, reborrowed in English and means "A long coat or greatcoat, originally for men but now often for women". (Source)

The only one that springs immediately to mind is "Freeter," a contraction of free + arbeiter. This reborrowed mish-mash of English and German means a young adult who lives on a series or raft of part-time or casual jobs rather than traditional full-time, long-term employment.

A near-miss is "Rickshaw." This is a contraction and anglicisation of "Jin-riki-sha," a Japanese word for a western invention.

By the way, I would say that, as a re-borrowing, "cosplay" comes from "kosupure" rather than the other way around :-)

  • 5
    You are right about cosplay. The English phrase costume play became a loan word kosuchūmu-purē in Japanese and acquired a new meaning, was shortened to kosupure (1982), and was reborrowed in English as cosplay (1993). The years are from the Oxford English Dictionary. Dec 3, 2010 at 12:44

As I've said in another question, "karaoke" half-qualifies, as the second half of it is "okesutora" = "orchestra".

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