I’m translating a Japanese novel into my language. The novel I’m working with is a fantasy story about a teen witch and children. But I’m not sure about the meaning of とびっことりっこ which appears several times:

(Aくん is a boy who loves climbing trees. Bちゃん is a 4 year-old girl. Cくん is a 2 year-old boy. A once took B and C to a へんな国 by jumping over a stick.)

So I (the main character who is a witch) want to know about へんな国.











What does とびっことりっこ mean in these contexts? I’m not sure if it means “jump over something” or “jump and race with other people” (since 取りっこ means to fight with other people to get something, but it sounds weird in this context though), or just “jump”.

I assume it should be “jump across something, since in the last context it says なにかを so なにか should be something that is jumped over.

But since it’s not a commonly used word, I might misunderstand it. Please let me know how you understand this word.

  • 1
    Hard. This reminds me of "Kirby" though... Is 飛びっこ like a flying object? とりっこ seems competing to pick the flying object. May 21 at 15:01
  • I would suggest adding credits for quotes like this. (Unless it's confidential, ... but if it's confidential, you shouldn't be publicly posting a question about it in the first place.) It's generally a good practice to give credits, and can provide contexts that might be less obvious. For example, where the author is from may be relevant. May 23 at 3:53
  • Ah that's right. I assumed this is a recent novel because I found nothing dialectal or old at least from this excerpt, but if my assumption was wrong, everything might change.
    – naruto
    May 23 at 4:00
  • What the OP should or shouldn't do in terms of maintaining confidentiality is totally dependant on the agreement among stakeholders, which isn't for the outsiders to decide.
    – dungarian
    May 23 at 4:56
  • Fair enough. I intended to include a friendly reminder, but it came out more patronizing than I want. In retrospect, I should have left it at "[...] unless it's confidential". I wish I could still edit it. May 23 at 8:02

2 Answers 2


とびっことりっこ is probably a made-up word used only in the novel you're working on. You will need to read the entire novel to find all the references that possibly explain the meaning of this unfamiliar word. If you're translating this professionally, you may need to make your own new English phrase that "feels" like とびっことりっこ.

Still, it's possible to analyze this. (っ)こ is a suffix that forms the name of a play/game involving two or more people. See this entry and this question. For example, かけっこ is "駆ける + っこ", and にらめっこ is "睨め + っこ". So とびっことりっこ can be intuitively understood by native speakers as a game-like activity where two or more people fly/jump (飛ぶ/跳ぶ) and catch/take (取る) something. Maybe it's something like a witch version of frisbee dog or playing catch, but this is just my guess. (I intuitively took this とぶ as "fly" rather than "jump" because most witches in fantasy works can fly, but of course I may be wrong.)

  • Thank you very much!! I would guess it's "jump", not "fly", since the children saying these words aren't witches.
    – Metch
    May 23 at 10:19

If you break it down into とびっこ and とりっこ, it looks like both are found in dialects in the Kanto area. According to http://www1.tmtv.ne.jp/~kadoya-sogo/ibaraki-to.html

  • とびっこ is a synonym of かけっこ: running and chasing
  • とりっこ is a synonym of 取り競べ (I don't know what it is exactly, but it sounds like it might be a game for maintaining possession of something (like a ball))

I admit I don't exactly know a word that combines the two. If I had to guess, it sounds a lot like a game that involves maintaining the possession of something (like a ball) while running away from non-possessing players.

  • Thank you very much!
    – Metch
    May 23 at 10:19

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