There is a topical antiseptic called Mercurochrome or Merbromin. According to the Korean Wikipedia article, an alternative name for this in Korean is [아]【a】[까]【kka】[징]【jin】[끼]【kki】 (possibly also romanized as akkajinki), which was borrowed from Japanese 赤【あか】チンキ.

What is the origin of this Japanese term akachinki?


The more formal Japanese term for generic name Merbromin is メ【me】ル【ru】ブ【bu】ロ【ro】ミ【mi】ン【n】, and the term for brand name Mercurochrome is マ【ma】ー【a】キュ【kyu】ロ【ro】ク【ku】ロ【ro】ム【mu】. This topical antiseptic also goes by the informal name [赤]【aka】チ【chi】ン【n】, or older [赤]【aka】チ【chi】ン【n】キ【ki】.

  • The [赤]【aka】 part simply expresses the sense of red, as the medicine is indeed red in color:
    A sample picture of _Merbromin_, showing the red color of the drug.
  • The チ【chi】ン【n】 part is from older チ【chi】ン【n】キ【ki】, which in turn is an abbreviation of チ【chi】ン【n】キ【ki】テュ【tyu】ー【u】ル【ru】, a borrowing from Dutch tinktuur, cognate with English tincture (i.e., a solution of a medicinal substance in a liquid, usually alcohol).

The Japanese Wikipedia article suggests that the term arose from a slang use of チ【chi】ン【n】キ【ki】 to refer more specifically to ヨ【yo】ー【o】ド【do】チ【chi】ン【n】キ【ki】, or a tincture of iodine. Since iodine tinctures are more yellowy-brown in color, the [赤]【aka】 was added as a prefix to differentiate.

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