A few questions about these words. The words [蹴球]{しゅうきゅう}, [籠球]{ろうきゅう}, and [庭球]{ていきゅう} mean football, basketball, and tennis, respectively. But I have only seen them in a dictionary, and in practice I have only ever seen フットボール, バスケットボール, and テニス used. On the other hand, [野球]{やきゅう} is commonly used for "baseball", and does not usually use a loanword.

How often are 蹴球, 籠球, and 庭球 used, and why is baseball the only one that doesn't commonly use a loanword?

  • I'm still to read/hear フットボール instead of サッカー.
    – Axioplase
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 3:08

1 Answer 1


Someone else might have better referenced information but I was told these words predate the Second World War when the Japanese government policy was to avoid, possibly even outlaw, all loanwords. (My Japanese father in law told me he was not taught English because it was language of the enemy.) There were also Japanese names for the fielding positions in baseball. I don't know why 野球 survived, possibly because it was a more established sport or possibly because it was already established as the normal name of the sport anyway. According to the following post from Wikipedia on the origin of the Japanese word it was first coined in 1894:

「ベースボール」を、初めて「野球」と日本語に訳したのは、第一高等中学校(1894年、第一高等学校に改称。第二次大戦後の学制改革の際に東京大学に併合され、新制東京大学教養学部になる)の野球部員であった中馬庚である。1894年(明治27年)、彼らが卒業するにあたって部史を刊行することになり、中馬の書いた文章中に「野球」が登場するのである。逸話として、同僚で名投手の青井鉞男が「千本素振り」をやっている所に中馬がベースボールの翻訳を「Ball in the field-野球」とすることを言いに来たと言われている。

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