As it says in the title, I'm hoping to find out where the adjective ending -っぱい comes from (like in 酸っぱい 'sour'). Is it related to -っぽい (X-like, X-ish) at all? I can't seem to find an etymology for it if there is one known, but I really only have access to free resources like wiktionary and anything I can find on a google search and isn't behind a paywall, and that hasn't brought up anything.


From what I can find, the ~っぱい ending is peculiar to two words: しょっぱい and すっぱい.

Shogakukan's 国語大辞典 and Daijirin both suggest that the ~っぱい ending for しょっぱい is a shift from 映【は】ゆし ("blindingly bright"; as an auxiliary element, "to appear XX; to be conspicuously XX"). Digging around, I also found Shogakukan, Daijirin, and Daijisen entries for 鹹【しおはゆ】い, which appear to corroborate this derivation.

Separately, I suspect that the more-common ~っぽい suffix may also derive from this same 映【は】ゆし, although I cannot currently find any Japanese source that says anything more than simply that っぽい is from ぽい, and that ぽい is a suffix essentially meaning -ish, -like.

  • Oddly, I easily found one possible etymology for っぽい but っぱい had evaded me. Thank you. Apr 30 '19 at 21:46
  • @LinguistCat, do you have a link for the っぽい derivation? Apr 30 '19 at 23:04
  • 1
    Only through wiktionary, en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E3%81%A3%E3%81%BD%E3%81%84#Etymology which I now notice doesn't have a citation. Perhaps that was why it was easy to find. But if I see anything else backing it up I will comment again with the update. May 1 '19 at 19:08

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