I have just watched the Japanese "Shoplifter" movie and wonder why 万引きmeans shoplifting.


引く can mean to take something, in the sense of "pluck something", and 万 is often used to mean "a lot" in words like 万事【ばんじ】 (everything) or 万屋【よろずや】 (jack of all trades), so I thought it was a self explanatory word, "takes anything".

Edit: After seeing the above comment by Yuichi Tam, according to Japanese Wikipedia my pat explanation is all wrong:



  1. 商品を間引いて盗む「間引き」が変化して、万引き(万は当て字)になったとする説
  2. 「間」に「運」の意味もあるためそれぞれを結合し、運を狙って引き抜くという意味で「まんびき」になったとする説
  3. タイミング(間)を見計らって盗むことから
  4. 一度やると癖になり万回繰り返すから


So basically it was originally "mabiki" (thinning plants) but someone used the "man" kanji on top of that.

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