“Cunning” Japanese English/「カンニング」和製英語


Japanese has something called wasei eigo (literally “Japanese-made English”), which means words that seem to be English (eigo), but are not. These words came from English originally, but the meaning has been changed to a distinctly Japanese meaning.


I know, it’s confusing. So, here is an example.

Cunning (kanningu)

In English, cunning means something like achieving a goal by a clever but deceptive method. In Japanese this might be something like ずるい (zurui) or ずるがしこい (zurugashikoi). In wasei eigo, cunning means cheating, like on an exam or homework. It’s used as a noun カンニング (kanningu), but also can be used as a verb if you add –する (-suru) (to do) – カンニングする (kanningu suru).




カンニング (cunning)

英語だと、カンニングの意味は日本語のずるいとかずるがしこいっていう意味ですね。和製英語の意味って、英語だとcheatingって言えば良いと思いますね。名詞だと、cheater (カンニングした人)、動詞だと、to cheat (カンニングする)でしょ。

What other wasei eigo have you heard? Did you misunderstand it when you first heard it? Let me know in the comments!


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