Is the word チェリーボーイ (Eng. "cherry boy", meaning "male virgin") a genuine loanword from English, or is it wasei-eigo?

I would have thought it to be a genuine loanword, but the sources cited on English.SE here seem to indicate that the word was in use in Japan by the end of WWII (c. 1945), but is only attested in English back to the 1970s. This suggests that "cherry boy" might actually be a "reverse" loan of the wasei-eigo back into English, kind of like "salaryman" and "office lady". The relative frequency of these words (incredibly low in English; somewhat higher in Japanese) also sort of points in this direction.

語源由来辞典 says 『「チェリーボーイ」は和製英語と思われがちだが、アメリカでも用いることはある』, but the mere fact that the word is used in English does not necessarily indicate that it isn't wasei-eigo (again, like "salaryman").

  • FWIW, I've never heard this term in my corner of America. Although "male virgins" is not a topic of conversation I'm ever involved in. – istrasci Dec 1 '15 at 17:43
  • @istrasci I'd never heard of it either prior to reading that English.SE post. – senshin Dec 1 '15 at 18:12
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    I've never heard or seen it any English language work ever in my life, by text or voice. fwiw, it sounds like a wasei-eigo word rather than something that an English speaker would ever create. Plus, there are a large number of Japanese who don't know which words are wasei-eigo and which are actual loanwords, so I wouldn't hold gogen yurai to its word without more evidence. – sqrtbottle Dec 1 '15 at 19:41
  • The only sources I can find that list cherry boy in English seem to date it to the 1970s, like you said. Here's one such source: goo.gl/dlCQLH – snailboat Dec 1 '15 at 21:53
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    日本語だと、やや古い感じはしますが、中年以降の人には十分通じると思います。 – naruto Dec 21 '15 at 10:07

The oldest confirmed sighting I have for the term in Japanese is a 1972 song. This raises the question of whether the term was introduced to Japan by American soldiers during the Vietnam war, as one comment has pointed out. Even more intriguing is the earliest citation for it on Google Books: the gay poet Royston Ellis's book The Cherry Boy (Turret, 1966), followed by Lance Taunton's Cherry Boy (Windsor House, 1970), which is apparently gay erotica. A bit of Googling seems to confirm that "cherry boy" was period slang in the gay community.

But this doesn't rule out wasei-eigo. This still might be the result of some Japanese schoolboys irresponsibly granted access to an English dictionary, since according to 渋谷知美『日本の童貞』, the 日本チェリーボーイ倶楽部 was founded in 1956. However, I'm not entirely sure of the provenance of this claim, as the book's sole source for the club is a 1996 article in a weekly tabloid. (By the way, that book points out that the Japanese language didn't even have a term for male virginity until the 1920s.)

  • 1970より前はないって言わなかったか。 – Takahiro Waki Feb 25 '16 at 3:47
  • 言われたはずだったが一次資料見られなかった。 – Avery Feb 25 '16 at 3:55

The meaning of cherry boy is inexperienced soldier.Inexperienced soldier→male virgin.I think japanese military or other country's military used this words. And actually,experienced soldier were rated high by japanese military.For example 靖国神社.By the way 和製英語 is word that japanese created selfishly.Inexperienced soldier and male virgin are nearly meaning.So cherry boy is not 和製英語.

In japan someone made love with 100 wemen is called 100人斬り. Both of these words are concerned about war.It might be that these are japanese sexual cultural words.

By the way that it is not 和製英語 doesn't mean english words.和製英語 is not quite different meaning to English words. "意味が日本特有であれば和製英語であると認定するならば、英語の意味からどの程度異なっていれば認定してよいかは難しい問題である" from jp wikipedia和製英語. この意味において日本特有の意味合いでないと思ったので和製英語ではないと私は思いました。日本製の言葉かと言われれば半分日本製の言葉かもしれません。

I have ever edited "和製英語" of english wikipedia.

  • Do you mean that you edited the English Wikipedia article for 和製英語. – Earthliŋ Feb 22 '16 at 9:00
  • Yes, I deleted some odd examples of 和製英語. – Takahiro Waki Feb 22 '16 at 9:13
  • I don't think this word is older than the 1970s. Do you have examples? – Avery Feb 22 '16 at 9:56
  • I found source that cherry's meaning is hymen. – Takahiro Waki Feb 22 '16 at 10:28
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    Yes, "popping a cherry" is English slang for taking a girl's virginity, but that exclusively refers to women. The question here is the source of "cherry boy". Also, it might be best you write in Japanese, because I'm not quite sure what you're getting at with the 和製英語 part. – Jimmy Feb 23 '16 at 20:00

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