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I came across the phrase やめときます in alc.co.jp, which is apparently translated to things like "I'll pass" or "I'd better not."

It didn't appear as a stand-alone word in the dictionaries I checked, so I'm wondering if it's a contracted form of two other words.

Just for the sake of making a guess...I'll guess that it's 止め (imperative form of 止む) and 説く.

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marked as duplicate by Dono, istrasci, Szymon, Earthliŋ, ssb Apr 25 at 13:52

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

やめときます would be the て-form of 止{や}める with the auxiliary verb おく, which has a number of meanings but in this case probably indicates that the speaker will go ahead and stop doing something in anticipation of a certain result, or that they are admitting that a situation is a certain way and will leave it as it is.

止{や}めて+おきます=止{や}めときます

It would literally mean that the speaker will stop doing something, or give up on doing something in order to leave things as they are. As you've mentioned, both interpretations could idiomatically be translated as “I had better not (do it/anything),” or “I will pass (on doing it/anything).”

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I came up with the translation "for now" for おく. I'm not sure if it's accurate though... Just out of curiosity, do you know what the grammatical term for て is? –  NigoroJr Apr 25 at 2:26
    
One of the meanings of the auxiliary verb おく is indeed to do something temporally to get by for the moment (it can be thought of as doing something in anticipation of a certain result, which when having occurred no longer requires the action to be continued). Without any other context of a particular usage though, it's hard to give an exact translation of the nuance. As for grammatical terms, I've always thought of it as the テ形 (te-form), but I have a few books which use different terms. In this case, the テ形 is undergoing an 音便 (sound-change). Does that help? –  ハイドン Apr 25 at 2:39
    
Thanks for the clarification. I have to admit I'm terrible at grammar, both Japanese and English, so I always have trouble when it comes to explaining language logically :( –  NigoroJr Apr 25 at 2:48
    
I usually favor "Leave it alone" or "let it be" as translations for this phrase. –  Kaji Apr 25 at 4:26
    
Do you mean 助動詞 by "auxiliary verb"? –  Choko Apr 25 at 5:22

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