Recently I learned that the Japanese for dice is サイコロ.

The kanji is 塞子 which is Saizi in pinyin.

So the サイ part comes from 塞 but why katakana ?

子 is sometimes translated as こ so the コ must come from that but again why katakana and why コロ ?

If you Google saikoro there are pictured of meat diced into little cubes. The word dice also exists as a verb, to dice meat. Could that have played a part in the evolution of サイコロ ?

What are peoples' thoughts ?


1 Answer 1


Originally, there is no reason to write in katakana because サイコロ isn't foreign origin word. But サイコロ is often used now, because if we use さいころ, it is difficult to read when it is sandwiched by other hiragana. さい of さいころ is Chinese reading of 塞, means サイコロ used in 双六(sugoroku, dice game). And it was attached the sufix ”ころ”. (by Wikipedia in Japanese and I translated it.)

What you find in Google is probably サイコロステーキ(diced stake). I think they're irrelevant because the word サイコロステーキ was coined long after the word サイコロ was coined.

  • 1
    As an addition, note that ころ is a root element that appears in a lot of different words, with a base meaning of something like "rolling". Derived words include 頃【ころ】 (noun, referring to a rough span of time; compare English adverb "roundabout"), ころころ (adverb, "rollingly"), 転【ころ】ぶ (verb, "to fall down, to fall over, to take a tumble"), 転【ころ】がる (verb, intransitive, "to roll around"), etc. Jan 3, 2023 at 20:18

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