I'm slowly trying to read through a light novel and came across this sentence:


What does that キワモノ (kiwamono) mean? None of the dictionaries I've tried seem to know the meaning of that word.


キワ in キワモノ comes from 際どい:


  1. very close; close; narrow (e.g. narrow victory); dangerous; risky; hazardous​
  2. suggestive; bordering on the obscene; risqué; delicate (e.g. question); immoral; questionable; shady​

In this case キワモノ refers to someone who is very questionable, abnormal, peculiar or even insane for a thief. For example, a thief weighting 400 lbs, a thief who faints at the sight of blood, a thief who uses a guitar instead of a knife... These can be called キワモノ.

According to dictionaries 際物 in kanji means seasonal/temporary/trendy/non-universal articles and topics, but I think this meaning is obsolete. キワモノ as a slang word is usually written in katakana.

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キワモノ is a peculiar word, where I can't find a dictionary that uses the term the way the media (news shows, anime, etc.) uses it.

It refers to "risky", "dangerous", "extreme" things/people.

So in your example, the people who gathered were all "dangerous" people (ie thieves). In reference to products, say video games, a game based off of the sport jai alai would be considered a キワモノ genre.

It has been asked several times on Yahoo as well by native speakers, so I think this is a confusing word even for them.

I believe this is a word that has changed meanings of recent, probably because either people misread the meaning or repurposed the word because it was convenient. The word is likely derived from 際{きわ}どいモノ(者or物). 際{きわ}どい by itself means risky or dangerous. So I feel that people assumed it meant that, rather than its original meaning. There are several words like this, where the word is commonly misused, even in the media. Examples would be 確信犯{かくしんはん}, 役不足{やくぶそく}, すべからく.

Funny thing is, while I could not find the definition I wanted in dictionaries, looking up synonyms brought up a good definition and similar words.

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I agree that the dictionary definition in JMdict-based dictionaries is a bit vague. A noun meaning "seasonal articles" or "temporary". Anyway, let's try to understand the word in the context.

(I) tried to predict the attack, but the lineup was an utterly ad hoc band of thieves.
(not exactly sure who is attacking and who is lining up)

Why I used the word ad hoc?

The original meaning of 際物{キワモノ} is "seasonal articles". It comes form the kanji 際 "occasion" and 物 "thing". The band of thieves was created for this particular raid, and that's why I think you can call it ad hoc.

There was some confusion over why it was written in katakana instead of kanji. For that, refer to this question: Why are katakana preferred over hiragana or kanji sometimes?

Edit: It appears that my interpretation of the word was incorrect, since there are two answers that tell about another meaning for the word that fits this context better. It is much safer to assume that the band of thieves was dangerous than that the author of the novel actually goes meta and tells the readers that the band of thieves was a cheap trick that conveniently fit the situation.

The link about katakana spelling still holds true. The word is written in katakana so that the new slang meaning will be considered by people who encounter the word for the first time. When the majority of people understand the new meaning (if ever), the katakana spelling can be dropped and you can start to use the kanji without the risk of being misunderstood.

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この用語{ようご}は、まだ日本語{にほんご}として定着{ていちゃく}していないと思{おも}われるが、インターネットで検索{けんさく}すると923,000件{けん}のヒットがある。カタカナで書{か}かれているので「際物{きわもの}」と全{まった}く同{おな}じ意味{いみ}で使{つか}われているとは思{おも}われない。 因{ちな}みに、「際物{きわもの}」を辞書{じしょ}で調{しら}べると、

1 ある時季{じき}のまぎわにだけ売{う}れる品物{しなもの}。正月{しょうがつ}の羽子{はご}板{いた}、3月{がつ}のひな人形{にんぎょう}、5月{がつ}の鯉{こい}のぼりなど。用例{ようれい}:「際物{きわもの}商{あきな}い」
2 一時的{いちじてき}な流行{りゅうこう}をあてこんで作{つく}った商品{しょうひん}。
3 演劇{えんげき}・映画{えいが}・演芸{えんげい}・小説{しょうせつ}などで、実際{じっさい}にあった事件{じけん}や流行{りゅうこう}をただちに取{と}り入{い}れて題材{だいざい}としたもの。用例{ようれい}:「際物{きわもの}小説{しょうせつ}」 とある。



(2)内容{ないよう}が際{きわ}どい、マニアックなもの。 「キワモノ」の同義{どうぎ}語{ご}は、上級者{じょうきゅうしゃ}向{む}け ・ 玄人{くろうと}向{む}け ・ マニア向{む}け ・ イロモノ ・ ゲテモノ ・ マニア好{ごの}み ・ マニア垂涎{すいぜん} ・ 色物{いろもの} ・ オタク向{む}け

以上{いじょう}のようにキワモノには非常{ひじょう}にたくさんの意味{いみ}があり、しかも使用{しよう}頻度{ひんど}が「羽子{はご}板{いた}が5,920,000件{けん}」、「ひな人形{にんぎょう}20,500,000件{けん}」「鯉{こい}のぼり31,800,000 件{けん}」などに比{くら}べても少{すく}ないことからこの単語{たんご}の意味{いみ}が現{げん}時点{じてん}で日本語{にほんご}においてまだ十分{じゅうぶん}には定{さだ}まっていないと考{かんが}えられる。その上で、今回{こんかい}質問{しつもん}に挙{あ}がっている「キワモノばかりの盗賊団{とうぞくだん}」の中{なか}で「キワモノ」がどのような意味{いみ}で使{つか}われたかを推察{すいさつ}するにはどうすれば良{よ}いのだろうか。



次{つぎ}に「モノ」からは「物{もの}」と「者{もの}」だろう。「キワ」と「モノ」の各々{おのおの}からイメージした意味{いみ}を組{く}み合{あわ}せて考{かんが}えると、「キワモノ」で検索{けんさく}できた(1)~(6)の意味{いみ}がどれも当{あ}て嵌{は}まりそうである。 作者{さくしゃ}と読者{どくしゃ}との間{あいだ}には作品{さくひん}で使{つか}わている単語{たんご}の意味{いみ}の解釈{かいしゃく}に関{かん}して契約{けいやく}がなく、しかも、今回{こんかい}のように単語{たんご}の意味{いみ}が十分{じゅうぶん}に確立{かくりつ}していない場合{ばあい}、作者{さくしゃ}が(1)~(6)の全体{ぜんたい}が醸{かも}し出{だ}す意味{いみ}が伝{つた}わればよいと考{かんが}えたと推察{すいさつ}しても妥当{だとう}であろう。作者{さくしゃ}がもしそのようなある種{しゅ}いい加減{かげん}な意味{いみ}の伝達{でんたつ}が嫌{いや}なら、意味{いみ}がもっと明確{めいかく}に確立{かくりつ}している言葉{ことば}を使{つか}ったであろう。




歌舞伎{かぶき}の用語{ようご}で芝居{しばい}の内容{ないよう}をジャンル分{わ}けするときに、「〇〇をテーマにしたジャンル」のことを「〇〇 物{もの}」と呼{よ}んでいる。 実際{じっさい}に、時代{じだい}物{もの}、御家{ごけ}物{もの}、石橋{しゃっきょう}物{もの}、白波{しらなみ}物{もの}、世話{せわ}物{もの}、松羽目{まつばめ}物{もの}、丸本{まるほん}物{もの}などの用語{ようご}がある。因{ちな}みに「キワ物{もの}」は無{な}い。




I have a will to post the English translation as soon as possible.

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  • Wow... I'm not sure if I understood everything, but basically it's not entirely clear what the writer meant with キワモノ, and the most probable one is "organized criminals" or just some people who are evil? Also didn't know the connection between 際{きわ} and 極{きわ} – siikamiika May 1 '17 at 8:50
  • □が多すぎて見づらいと思いますが。かつ日本語のみ。 – Takahiro Waki May 23 '17 at 5:52
  • 日本人でも読めない、分からないものが含まれている。 – Takahiro Waki May 23 '17 at 6:02

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