I'm curious how 冷やかし came to mean things such as 買わずに見る and からかう.

Here's what I can figure out:

  • hiya seems to be a root meaning "cold" (like in hiya-ya-ka)
  • hiya-k-u is an old verb based on this root ("to become cold")
  • hiya-k-as-u is the same verb plus a causative affix ("to make cold")
  • hiya-k-as-i is a noun derived from the 連用形 of this verb

So it seems that "to make cold" is the literal meaning of the verb, and it can still be written with the kanji . However, it doesn't appear that the noun 冷やかし retains this literal meaning--at least, I don't see it anywhere in 大辞林:

ひやかし0 【冷やかし・〈素見〉】

  1. 相手が困ったり恥ずかしがったりするような冗談を言うこと。からかうこと。


  2. 買う気がないのに値段をきいたり品定めしたりすること。また、その人。素見(すけん)。


  3. 遊里で、登楼せず張り見世の遊女をからかったり品定めしたりすること。また、その人。素見。

I suppose these three senses are probably related to the literal meaning, but I can't see the connection. How did the meaning go from "make cold" to "window shopping"?

1 Answer 1


According to 日本国語大辞典, 冷やかし comes from the verb 冷やかす, which in addition to the obvious ‘to cool’ has these meanings:




Obviously, sense (3) is the one that the ‘window-shopping’ meaning of 冷やかし is derived from, and I suppose sense (2) is a special case of sense (3). On the topic of etymology, the dictionary says:

((2)について) 浅草山谷の紙漉業者が、紙料を水に冷やかしている間、新吉原を見物して回ることをいったことから〔嬉遊笑覧・海録・三養雑記・大言海・話の大事典=日置昌一〕。

Apparently, sense (2) comes from stories of the paper-makers in Asakusa “window-shopping” in Shin-Yoshiwara while the water for their paper-making cooled.

You must log in to answer this question.