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Saw this on a charger I bought online and was really perplexed. What foreign word does it represent? "concentric"? What does that have to do with outlet and where did it come from?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It is 和製英語. Sometime around the 1920s, employees at 東京電燈会社 created a device which consisted of a plug and outlet. This was called コンセントプラグ "concentric plug". Outlets without the plugs are now referred to as コンセント. Needless to say, English "concentric" does not make much sense.

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Why should the コンセント part of コンセントプラグ be interpreted as “concentric” if doing so does not make sense? –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jan 20 '13 at 17:37
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It comes from concentric plug. Although the origin is not 100% clear, it appears that plugs were round (concentric) in early 20th century England, which may be where the word comes from.

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