When I first heard ノートパソコン I was a bit confused and thought they were referring to a PC brand or something.

Now that I think of it, it's a pretty appropriate term for a portable PC (laptop).

Was just curious where the term came from?

On that note (pun intended); laptop is starting to sound like a weird name, I don't think I have ever put a "laptop" on my lap... lol

  • 1
    You might want to look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laptop ...
    – virmaior
    Apr 5, 2017 at 9:21
  • Thanx. Didn't see that, have never heard it called a notebook till I came to Japan though... I'm pretty sure in English most people would be confused which you're talking about.
    – Y12K
    Apr 5, 2017 at 10:15
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    Er, I'm a native English speaker from the US ... another native speaker I'm talking to says its outdated. I did some work in IT; I'd definitely heard the term before I came to Japan (though I agree "laptop" is the most common term by far).
    – virmaior
    Apr 5, 2017 at 12:16
  • @virmaior The point of me asking is not to say it should be called "laptop" (if you read my question I actually agree with it), this is purely for educational/curiosity purposes!
    – Y12K
    Apr 5, 2017 at 13:34
  • I'm merely responding to "I'm pretty sure in English most people would be confused which you're talking about." As a native speaker of English, that's not my impression.
    – virmaior
    Apr 5, 2017 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


The Japanese word for paper notebook is not ノートブック but ノート (Hence デスノート, by the way). ノートブック was simply too long for Japanese people. Therefore, notebook PCs are naturally called ノートPC, ノートパソコン or simply ノート in Japanese. From my understanding, laptop is no longer common today also in English and it has been almost replaced by notebook.

We almost never use ノートブック to refer to paper notebooks, but when referring to notebook PCs, ノートブック(PC/パソコン) is common as well as ノート(PC/パソコン).

EDIT: Hmm, seeing the comments here, it appears that notebook (PC) is not yet widely used among native English speakers, although manufactures stopped calling their products laptops long ago. Here in Japan, ノートPC has already replaced ラップトップPC almost completely, even among ordinary people. Maybe that's because ノート is far easier for us to understand :)

  • I see. Unlike English, there wouldn't have been any confusion between which you were referring to. But have never heard anyone refer to them as notebooks till I came to Japan.
    – Y12K
    Apr 5, 2017 at 10:16
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    @keepkun Oh, really? Before posting this I checked some articles including this, and they basically say "laptop" is long-dead among PC manufacturers. Maybe ordinary English speakers are still mainly using laptop even after manufactures dropped this term and ordinary Japanese people have already accepted this term?
    – naruto
    Apr 5, 2017 at 12:17
  • "Notebook" is also more common in Russian (and possibly other languages/regions), but I don't think it has a chance of replacing "laptop" in English any time soon. There was also a short period of "netbooks" in late 2000s and more recently "ultrabooks" but they both don't seem to be in much use anymore. Sorry for going off topic. Apr 5, 2017 at 13:01
  • a netbook is different from a laptop/notebook... I'm not super familiar with ultrabook, but my initial sense (no dictionary etc) is that it would be a high performance laptop (notebook).
    – virmaior
    Apr 5, 2017 at 13:04
  • @naruto if "checked" means "I went to the U.S. or some other English speaking country and asked" then I guess I'm behind, else if "checked" means "I googled it" then I have my doubts.
    – Y12K
    Apr 5, 2017 at 13:28

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