What are Chopsticks Called in Other Countries?



What's in a name? What are chopsticks called in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese? And how did chopsticks get their name in English?

Chopsticks were invented in China. In ancient times chopsticks in Chinese were called zhù. However, as the centuries rolled by the name changed to kuàizi, the symbols meaning "quick bamboo." In writing, both the ancient and modern characters are used but kuàizi is the common spoken name.

In the early centuries AD (around 300-500AD) the use of chopsticks spread to other regions of Asia such as the countries (or cultures that become the countries) of Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

Chopsticks in Japanese is hashi and is written either with the same kanji as in ancient China or hiragana. The word hashi in Japanese means both chopsticks and bridge, though the kanji character is different. Chopsticks in Japan may have originally been in the form of tongs where both sticks were joined at the handle with a "bridge."

Chopsticks in Korean is jeotgarak.

Chopsticks in Vietnamese is dua.

If you look carefully at the characters representing chopsticks in modern and ancient Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese, you'll see the topmost radical is "bamboo".

Explorer William Dampier

The first use of the word "chopsticks" is from explorer William Dampier's book Voyages and Descriptions in 1699 (he is also credited as being the first to use in published writing the words "barbeque" and "avocado"). Dampier was the first English explorer to explore what is now Australia and circumnavigated the globe 3 times. It is believed that the word "chopstick" may have come from Chinese Pidgin English where "chop chop" meant to do something quickly.

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