« previous post | next post »

From Tomo's Twitter:

It's interesting that a word which started out meaning an earthenware fire pot ends up signifying a metal griddle for searing meat and other food, which has now been used for a cold surface on which to prepare an ice cream dessert.



Japanese shinjitai Simplified from ().

In current form,  + .

Han character

(radical 167, +5, 13 strokes, cangjie input 金木一 (CDM), composition)

  1. earthenware basin
  2. alms bowl (Sanskrit पात्र (pātra))




c. 1870, from Japanese 火鉢 (hibachi, a charcoal-powered heating brazier, literally fire pot).


hibachi (plural hibachis or hibachi)

  1. A portable brazier, powered by charcoal, used for cooking.
  2. (Canada, US) A cooking method and performance art in which the chef grills pieces of food on a hot metal griddle in front of the guests; teppanyaki. This terminology is virtually unknown in Japan.
  3. (Canada, US) The griddle used in such cuisine; teppan.

Source, see also here and here

Nancy Friedman, who called this item to my attention, observes:  "An interesting use of a Japanese suffix in an American business name. (The shop is in Columbia, South Carolina.)"

Here's the listing on Yelp.

I wonder what the next Xbachi to emerge will be.

[h.t. Nancy Friedman]


  1. Ambarish Sridharanarayanan said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 9:31 am

    So how do I interpret that wiktionary citation? Is the pronunciation bachi derived from pātra?

  2. cameron said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 9:48 am

    It's disappointing that they don't retro-form the name Icebachi into Japanese.

  3. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 10:22 am

    I'm assuming it's probably just sheer good luck that they popped in "ice" to replace the morpheme that means "fire" in the etymology of the original? I'd still wait for a few more different examples of X-bachi before proclaiming the birth of a productive new morphological pattern in English.

  4. Francisco said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 1:30 pm

    "It's interesting that a word which started out meaning an earthenware fire pot ends up signifying […] a cold surface on which to prepare an ice cream dessert".

    Curiously, there is at least one other instance of this inversion taking place. The noun 'caldo' (soup) can be found in several Iberian languages, being rooted in the Latin adjective 'calidus' (hot). The adjectival aspect was eventually lost, leaving behind the generic sense of brew or concoction. Travel to other continents has further changed its use: in Brazil one finds a delicious roadside beverage called 'caldo de cana gelado', which consists in the juice of freshly crushed sugar cane served at freezing temperature.

  5. Thomas Rees said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 2:50 pm

    I don’t read Japanese but did a Google search for 氷鉢 (?kōribachi) and found various ice receptacles. The first hit is a page showing how to make an ice bowl using crushed ice, cling film and an orange.

  6. Philip Taylor said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 4:31 pm

    What intrigues me most is how "icebachi" is intended to be pronounced. Knowing that the second element is Japanese, I would automatically want to pronounce it /ɪkibɑːtʃiː/, but I suspect that that is not what the creators intended …

  7. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 5:16 pm

    Turns out I had never parsed "hibachi" for the core meanings of its components. Googling shows me other Japanese compounds with -bachi like kingyobachi (= "goldfish bowl"), but none that ring a bell in my now very rusty recollection of scattered Japanese lexemes. Oddly enough, -bachi instead conjures up remaining memories two "false friend" morphemes that I did know when I lived in Tokyo as a boy in the '70's, perhaps because they were both common elements in toponyms, and have apparently still retained, viz:
    1) -bashi (= "bridge"); and 2) -bochi (= "graveyard"). The American School in Japan is located near the Tama cemetery, and the train station closest to both cemetery and school was back in the day known as Tama-bochi-mae (多磨墓地前) although the internet tells me it's now been clipped to just Tama station. In any event, the dinky little branchline train that served Tama-bochi-mae was sort of the opposite of the Shinkansen, and was thus jocularly known among ASIJ students as the "Bochi Bullet."

  8. CuConnacht said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 6:02 pm

    I see from Wikipedia that the name of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima means mortar, literally grinding-bowl. While that may have seemed appropriate to the Marines who took it in 1945, there must be another explanation for the name. Was it thought to resemble an inverted Japanese mortar?

  9. Victor Mair said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 9:31 pm

    From a Japanese colleague:

    Another interesting Japanese Morph.

    I don't question hi- changing into ice.

    What I question is the bachi (hachi) 鉢 part. 鉢 is definitely not flat – whether it's made of metal or ceramic.

    Hachi is a container, usually bowl-shaped (even when it's square, like Nagahibachi 長火鉢, it's a container) . How can it be flat????

  10. Victor Mair said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 9:35 pm


    Whether inverted or not, Mt. Suribachi was thought to resemble a mortar (grinding bowl), or a pipe.

  11. Victor Mair said,

    May 9, 2019 @ 9:49 pm

    @Ambarish Sridharanarayanan

    I (or someone) should have answered your good question long ago.

    Yes, the Japanese on (unclassified) pronunciation はち (hachi), はつ (hatsu) ultimately reflects the Old Sinitic pronunciation /*poːd/.


    Cantonese (Jyutping): but3
    Min Nan (POJ): poah / poat

  12. LDC Systems said,

    May 10, 2019 @ 5:11 pm

    test 123

  13. krogerfoot said,

    May 10, 2019 @ 8:45 pm

    It's an interesting cultural exchange that N. Americans have adopted hibachi for a cooking device, which it emphatically isn't in Japan, while the most common word for a kerosene heater in Japan is ストーブ sutōbu, "stove," which Americans associate with the kitchen.

  14. Yerushalmi said,

    May 19, 2019 @ 1:31 am

    From a Dave Barry column written in the 1980s:

    “Hibachi” is a Japanese word meaning "extremely flimsy grills that break at the slightest touch but Americans buy them anyway.”

RSS feed for comments on this post