Is しゃぶしゃぶ typically written in hiragana rather than katakana? If so, why is it written in hiragana?

Wikipedia says that it is onomatopoeia:

The term is an onomatopoeia, derived from the sound emitted when the ingredients are stirred in the cooking pot.

And I thought that onomatopoeia was typically done in katakana (though the latter citation gives some exceptions).

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    There are some contradictory “standards/suggestions” whether onomatopoeia should be written in kanakana or hiragana. People generally use both and prefer one to another in individual words.
    – Yang Muye
    May 11, 2014 at 6:51
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    @hippietrail from the Wikipedia article: "derived from the sound emitted when the ingredients are stirred in the cooking pot."
    – Golden Cuy
    May 11, 2014 at 7:04
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    @AndrewGrimm: OK great then this one really is onomatopoeia. Note that I was sneakily careful not to say it wasn't, just to wonder aloud about it. May 11, 2014 at 7:06
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    @hippietrail I do that as well.
    – Golden Cuy
    May 11, 2014 at 7:07
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    Just to point out... しゃぶしゃぶ is not actually 擬音語・擬声語 here. It's derived from onomatopoeia, but does not actually work as a representation of the sound anymore. The general tendency of writing 擬音語 in katakana would not need to apply. (Note that wikipedia's definition of onomatopoeia is wide enough to be practically useless, but is largely irrelevant to Japanese)
    – jkerian
    May 11, 2014 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


It's always written in hiragana. I can't tell you why though. Allegedly it was named しゃぶしゃぶ because of the sound it makes when you take the beef slice through the hot water twice with your chopsticks.

The word しゃぶしゃぶ is never used for other purposes than to refer to the cuisine, at least in contemporary Japan.


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