The word for allergy in Japanese is アレルギ (pronounced "a/re/ru/gi")

The first three characters are typical for words borrowed from English, but why is the last sound "gi" instead of "ji"? Is this word not derived from English?

Is there any theory or hypothesis as to how this came to be?

Are there any other similar words?

  • 7
    アレルギー isn't from English allergy, but from German Allergie.
    – Cairnarvon
    Oct 28, 2019 at 6:47
  • 1
    Interesting question. Do you know how old the word a-re-ru-gi is? The Japanese have first be in contact with Portuguese and Dutch people. So Dutch is possibly a better source than German, if the word is old.
    – user23769
    Oct 28, 2019 at 9:33
  • nope, I have no idea about the age of the word
    – joe
    Oct 28, 2019 at 9:40
  • 2
    アレルギー would in fact highly be highly atypical for an English loanword, since coda /ɹ/ is usually represented by lengthening the previous vowel and word-final /ɪ/ by a short /i/. The expected output of loaning EN allergy would be アラージ /araːzi/ rather than /arerugiː/ or even /areruzi/ as you proposed in the question. Oct 28, 2019 at 11:50
  • 1
    Questions like this would be better directed to the Japanese Language site. :)
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 28, 2019 at 12:02

1 Answer 1


Many of the 外来語 gairaigo loanwords in Japanese are indeed from German, many of which date from the very late 19th century / early 20th century.

アレルギー arerugī (note the long i at the end!!!) is attested in written form in 1910, alongside テーマ tēma from German Thema, and of the same epoch as カプセル kapuseru from German Kapsel.

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