Most etymologies I've come across for "ベビーカー" assume that it's wasei eigo based on a combination of "baby" (ベビー) and "car" (the "カー" part of "マイカー"). For example, the Japanese edition of Wikipedia says this in a footnote on its article.

Could it instead be derived from a contraction of the English phrase "Baby carriage"? I suspect that "carriage" is distantly related to "car", for what it's worth.

  • 2
    Carriage and car are indeed from the same PIE root, but unless you have extremely compelling evidence for why it would come from carriage instead of the accepted etymology, I don't see why you think this.
    – Kurausukun
    Jun 10, 2018 at 9:08
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    In my experience, Japanese always tends to preserve phonetics over spelling when importing words and the first "a" in "carriage" is pronounced more like an え than an あ, contrary to the "a" in "car". E.g. the names "Cary"/"Carey" are typically transliterated as キャリー or ケリー, not カリー.
    – a20
    Jun 10, 2018 at 9:38
  • yes, @bjorn, that's what's been bugging me, I couldn't put my finger on it! carriage in katakana is キャリッジ. Thank you! I knew something was off about the idea of カー coming from carriage but it wasn't coming to me. Jun 10, 2018 at 11:30
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    I’d be careful assuming katakana loanwords (gairaigo) are from English. Many come from Dutch, German, or Portuguese and can be a bit different than their English cognates.
    – Tom Kelly
    Jun 10, 2018 at 22:55
  • @bjorn A very large number of loanwords were borrowed via writing rather than directly via sound, so while I agree with you, I would suggest that in many cases the pronunciation that is represented is whatever pronunciation the Japanese speaker imagined the word having, fitting the patterns of existing loanwords they've already learned.
    – user1478
    Jun 11, 2018 at 4:25

1 Answer 1


Several dictionaries (大辞林, 大辞泉, 明鏡, 日本大百科全書) list ベビーカー specifically as wasei-eigo from "baby" and "car", e.g.

ベビーカー baby+car〕

(I also checked 現代カタカナ語辞典 by 旺文社, but this doesn't have an entry for ベビーカー!)

Moreover, as @bjorn & @ericfromabeno say in the comments, "carriage" is usually キャリッジ and a loan of "baby carriage" would more likely have been something like ベビーキャリー.

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