We all learn early on that hamburger can be translated into Japanese in two different ways:

  • ハンバーガー meat patty in a bun
  • ハンバーグ just the meat patty (or salisbury steak to be exact)

Likewise launder has been borrowed twice into Japanese, with two different pronunciations:

  • コインランドリー laundromat
  • マネー・ロンダリング money laundering

Notice the ランド/ロンダ distinction.

(Actually, the laundry example isn't "perfect", because laundry and laundering aren't really the same word. But it still amused me when I noticed it.)

Can anyone think of more examples?


Not Chinese words, please. That would be too easy!! I prefer words that are rendered in katakana.

  • 2
    Comment 1: ハンバーガー != ハンバーグ. A ハンバーグ is not just the patty in a hamburger but a different thing.
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 4:32
  • 2
    Comment 2: there's a really large number of these and it's not a good question insofar as it asks for a list (= too broad). You're also completely missing ones that are multiply-imported from Chinese or that are distinct concepts (市場) with the same words.
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 4:34
  • 3
    ストライキ & ストライク、ミシン & マシン、プリン & プディング、トラック & トロッコ、レモネード & ラムネ、ミクロ & マイクロ、アイロン & アイアン・・・ Stop me anytime cuz all katakana is killing my eyes.
    – user4032
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 7:43
  • 4
    Forgot the cool one -- ヘボン & ヘップバーン. We never say オードリー・ヘボン.
    – user4032
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 7:51
  • 1
    @AthomSfere, interesting stuff. Thank you for the link. According to that article, the term "hamburg" began to fall out of use since 1897, and was supplanted entirely by "hamburger" by 1930, long before strong American influence in Japan. So I'm still not sure I believe that the Japanese term came from the US. Directly from Europe, sounds more plausible.
    – Questioner
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 13:54

2 Answers 2


This is a community wiki post.

  • cup

    • コップ drinking cup
    • カップ coffee cup, etc.
  • iron

    • アイロン clothes iron
    • アイアン metal iron (Fe)
  • lemonade

    • ラムネ nativized fruit-flavored pop soda
    • レモネード lemonade
  • machine

    • ミシン sewing machine
    • マシン machine in general
  • micro

    • ミクロ tiny
    • マイクロ micro (SI prefix 10-6)
  • pudding

    • プディング pudding in general
    • プリン custard pudding
  • strike

    • ストライキ strike (of workers)
    • ストライク strike (of baseball)
  • truck

    • トラック truck
    • トロッコ minecart

ここまで @virmaior さんと @非回答者 さんの挙げた例。追加

  • glass

    • ガラス glass (in windows)
    • グラス glass (for drinking)
  • sheet

    • シート sheet (of paper, film, etc)
    • シーツ bed sheet
  • stick

    • スティック stick
    • ステッキ walking stick
  • gum

    • ガム chewing gum
      • チューインガムの略
    • ゴム "gum" / (India) rubber
      • [輪]{わ}ゴム rubber band
      • [消]{け}しゴム eraser
      • ゴムテープ masking tape
  • seminar

    • ゼミ(ナール) seminar as college class (semester-long workshop)
    • セミナー seminar as style, form; introductory lecture
  • (milk) shake

    • セーキ nativized traditional style
    • シェーキ particularly in Lotteria franchise
    • シェイク particularly in McDonald's franchise
  • ruby

    • ルビ ruby annotation; furigana
    • ルビー ruby in general
  • ラムネ is supposed to be lemonade!?!? It tastes nothing like lemon! I was also thinking of チョコレート and ショコラ, but wasn't sure if they'd "count". Also, somewhat related: What changes are made to the pronunciations of gairaigo?
    – istrasci
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 14:51
  • I didn't know it's from lemonade, either. AFAIK ショコラ is from French "chocolat" and チョコレート is from English, and both refer to the same thing.
    – naruto
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 15:09
  • Always thought ピザ should clearly be written ピッザ - I've seen the later at times on menus, but infrequently. Not so much a double-import as a minor evolution.
    – mc01
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 21:14
  • 3
    Never seen ピッザ (it seems hard to pronounce, too) but ピッツァ (easier to pronounce though it looks harder) is fairly common. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 5:55
  • Sorry - that's what I meant ;) Can't edit original comment...
    – mc01
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 16:28

I happen to know one word that is borrowed 3 times in Japanese. "Card".

  • 歌留多(カルタ) for the game where someone says a sentence and you take the corresponding card.
  • カード for card in general, such as credit cards.
  • カルテ for hospital. this is the card that records what sickness etc you have.

I think maybe two reasons cause these to happen. one is from different language. one is from singular and plural form.

Also as a native speaker of chinese who happen to have his N1 passed, I couldnt name a chinese word that satisfy your requirement. I mean it's only one language and we don't have plural forms in the way english has.

  • By "Chinese word" what is meant here is a word that is borrowed from Chinese, not a word in Chinese.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 18:51
  • I dont know how to respond to that. I'm not stupid. I was just using whatever word the person asked the question was using. I was trying to express "its not an easy task at all". Also just want to mention, a more accurate term would be "Sino-Japanese words"(or just "漢語"), in fact quite a portion of those are Japanese made now.
    – Zuoanqh
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 9:08
  • 3
    カルタ isn't from English card -- it's from Portuguese carta ("playing card"). Likewise, カルテ isn't from English card -- it's from German Karte (compare English "[medical] chart"). Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 22:44
  • 1
    i was gonna quote "I think maybe two reasons cause these to happen. one is from different language. ", but yea you made your point @EiríkrÚtlendi
    – Zuoanqh
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 2:55
  • Another reason is that they were imported at different times or by different people - transcription practices differ over time (see ケーキ, which probably would be ケーク or something today), and sometimes it's even based on the spelling rather than the pronunciation (e.g. スタジオ, which would be スチュジオ or something).
    – obskyr
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 8:41

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