The situation (story from Edo period, but in contemporary Japanese, at most stylised on old language): three thieves A, B, and C working in a group. Pickpocket A is caught in a crowd, B disappears from the scene, C appears and punishes A (as a staged punishment to let A go without the crowd turning on him). A comes "home" and is questioned by B:

B: 吸口{すいくち}はどうしたんだ。

A: 後ろにいるに違いない。間を置いてやってくるだろう。

So 吸口 clearly seems to refer to the C.

What does 吸口 mean in this context?

The only explanation I could come up with is that as an analogy to the kiseru pipe, it describes the second person following, after splitting in two groups.

But I cannot find this meaning in any dictionary (for example).

Would it be understandable for native speakers if used in a similar situation in a conversation?

Or is there any other meaning of 吸口 in this situation?

I'm also not sure if A's question makes sense - if that was the meaning of 吸口, using it (instead of C's name) would be sort of tautological (it should be obvious that a person following will come later). But then in literary style it might be acceptable.

There was no mention of C being smoker. Which was my other guess.

  • 日本のキセルは西洋のパイプと違って「雁首」「羅宇」「吸口」の3つに分かれる構造になっていますが、ヒントになりますか。あだ名をつけるとすると「雁首」が一番強い人。「吸口」が二番目。けむりを通すだけの「羅宇」は一番弱い人。旨い汁を吸う「吸口」が一番強い人かもしれませんが。
    – user20624
    Jul 19, 2017 at 6:20
  • All I can say is that I have never seen 吸口 used as an argot like this...
    – naruto
    Jul 19, 2017 at 17:22
  • @naruto It definitely was used as a term for the man whom pickpocket passes stolen things to. Now I wonder, if i'm not mishearing すり口, but I cannot find such meaning either.
    – macraf
    Jul 21, 2017 at 23:23
  • (This was meant to be a comment under another answer, but it got deleted before I managed to). Time passed, I learnt that within the context of the story it was used for the role providing a cover up for the pickpocket and not the other - someone chasing another person. However I have no resources to prove the word had this meaning (or was it a licentia poetica). In the meantime the first comment should be posted as an answer, because the word I inquired about is used in the context explained in that comment. This is not a riddle "guess what I have heard".
    – macraf
    Aug 19, 2017 at 12:02
  • I've heard college undergraduates using きせる in speech to mean cheating the train fare by telling the ticket gate attendant they came from the previous station. So they only pay the minimum fare on both ends - that's the metal. The middle is free - that's the bamboo. I just confirmed by looking it up online: detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1059756055. Not much relation to your usage except that perhaps there might be some association between smoking and criminal behavior which then gives rise to other secondary associations. May 26, 2018 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


What does 吸口 mean in this context?

I have no idea.

Would it be understandable for native speakers if used in a similar situation in a conversation?

No. Definitely not!

Or is there any other meaning of 吸口 in this situation?




According to this definition, maybe the person C has the nickname because his role was a "tiny-but-situation-improver" or something. However, it is only my guess and there is no evidence nor confidence. It depends on the context. Furthermore, I didn't even know this definition of 吸い口, either.


I respect this comment, but I have a doubt about this interpretation. If other counterparts, the person A and B, were called 「雁首」and「羅宇」, I could have agreed with this interpretation 100%. However, if A and B weren't called so, it doesn't make sense that only C is called "suikuchi." Don't you think so?

吸口 すいくち suikuchi


It seems that 吸口 can be a family name according to this online dictionary, although I have a doubt about the accuracy of the dictionary when I look at other family names which do not seem to be family names.

Anyway, it seems that the word is a proper-noun, a special nickname, an obsolete and dead word, or an extremely advanced technical jargon that is never understandable by most of the ordinary modern Japanese people.

"The part of a Japanese pipe" and "a seasoning" and "Suikuchi, the family name" are merely "guess-what"s after all, in my humble opinion.

(If you want this question leave on the list of "UNANSWERED" until somebody will answer what exactly you want in the future, just let me know. I'll be glad to delete this answer. :) )

  • When and where did you hear the Edo-rakugo? On a TV program or something? Maybe you can ask directly to the speaker.
    – user1118
    Aug 21, 2017 at 8:10

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