Since おふくろ is one way to address one's own mother, I was wondering whether the 「ふく」 part is related to the word meaning 'clothes' or not.

And if not, what is the origin of おふくろ?

2 Answers 2


My answer is (basically) the same as kiss-o-matic.

I would have never thought about why we call our mothers おふくろ if you didn't ask us.

I am going to translate (http://gogen-allguide.com/o/ofukuro.html) ( I can not copy the original Japanese due to the copyright ):

The word has been seen since Muromachi era, and there are several theories about the origin of the name that have not been confirmed. One theory is お is a prefix, and since mothers managed placing all the money and valuables into bags (ふくろ), thus they came to be called お/ふくろ.

Another theory is that because organs such as the placentae, womb, and egg membrane were called ふくろ, the name of organ also became used for mothers.

Last one holds because children were brought up by mothers, the name ふところ denoting "the nest, pockets, etc" contracted to be おふくろ.

In modern times, the word おふくろ is mostly used by males. however according to the Japanese-Portuguese dictionary published in 1603, it was females rather than males using the term back then.

  • To snailboat, sorry to say about this, but I am a guy who does not give much care about my reputation. So even though you corrected my answer with good-will adding (basically) on the top, I am grateful for you, but please afterwards, do not mind it so. I am not a reputation hunting guy, so however with thanx, please be reminded I am a "if it is correct or not" guy.
    – user7644
    Feb 7, 2015 at 5:00
  • 5
    All I did was correct one little mistake (you accidentally wrote "Japanese-Netherland dictionary"). virmaior did most of the editing to make your English easier to read―please see the edit history to see who did what. Anyway, edits aren't about you or your reputation (I don't care about your reputation either). They're about the users who will read your answer in the future. The site is a better place when answers contain fewer errors.
    – user1478
    Feb 7, 2015 at 5:26
  • Hmm.... I must thank you anyway and need to brush up my English... thank you.
    – user7644
    Feb 7, 2015 at 9:15

The kanji for it is 袋 (Bag - ironically) so I'd say no. According to the link below, the word is derived from:

  1. Bags being used to manage valuables... like a mother would.
  2. The bag in the uterus (placenta?)... [TMI me thinks]
  3. When a mother hugs a child tightly, the [futokoro: area around the chest] becomes like a bag.

Side Note: Interested to know what [懐]{ふところ} is in English. J-Wikipedia says it's the inner part of the upper torso of garments.


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