18

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?

15

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.

11

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.

  • See my comment to Dono's answer -- this isn't 和製英語 at all, but what appears to be British slang "consent" for "concentric plug", itself a pretty straightforward term for the round plugs-and-sockets common in many countries. – Eiríkr Útlendi Jun 6 '14 at 23:42
  • @EiríkrÚtlendi I'm afraid I can't find the entry where the English is abbreviated to "consent". The English-French dictionary doesn't have an entry for "consent", only a buffered search containing "consent", which probably came from here, i.e. コンセント could mean either plug or consent (authorization) and lumping them together bled into other dictionaries. So far, I still think it more likely that コンセント is 和製英語, derived from "concentric plug". – Earthliŋ Jun 7 '14 at 0:04
  • There's a reminder to slow down when I'm tired. Sure enough, that was a cached search. That said, I still don't think it's 和製英語 so much as a straightforward abbreviation, given that "concentric plug" or "concentric outlet" is in use without reference to Japan or Japanese (google.com/…), and the meaning is the same. – Eiríkr Útlendi Jun 7 '14 at 0:36
  • 1
    @EiríkrÚtlendi Do you call パトカー 和製英語 or a "straightforward abbreviation" (or a "non-straightforward abbreviation")? – Earthliŋ Jun 7 '14 at 0:40

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