Does anyone know the origin of the verb 茶化す, which translates as 'to tease, to make fun of, to kid'? Is is somehow related to "breaking teacups"?

  • 1
    Forget "tea". In other words, forget the kanji.
    – user4032
    Jul 30, 2017 at 9:08
  • 「茶化」は、当て字ですね。。。
    – chocolate
    Jul 30, 2017 at 9:33
  • OKけど, もし当て字だったら、原点はまだ分かりませんよ Jul 30, 2017 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


Here is an article on the etymology of 茶化す.

Excerpts from the main line of the article are translated like:

"The keyword to understand "茶化す" is a China's copper trumpeter called Charmera or チャルメラ: Portuguese tyaramela (etymology is calamus meaning reed in Latin). The origin of oboe, one of wind instruments. Although it was used for the accompaniment music of street performing, it seemed that the strange tone that had not been heard in Japan until then sounded irresponsible for the audience. "茶{ちゃ} tea" in "茶化す" is mere an ateji ([当て字]{あてじ}, a Chinese character used as a phonetic symbol rather than for its meaning) and it has been used also in a word like "ちゃらんぽらん" that expresses a irresponsible feeling.

Here you can hear the sound of Chalmera that every Japanese knows.

Here is another article on 茶化す. I quote the whole explanation as follows.


  • What a wonderful etymology! お疲れ様です! Jul 31, 2017 at 0:01

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