goo Ranking this time published a ranking gathered not from their usual monitor pool, but instead by collecting search statistics on words that people most often searched for the meaning of through docomo’s mobile internet search engine.

The statistics were collected from the 1st of January until the 23rd on October by looking for searches of the form “__ meaning” and “what is __”; the Japanese terms were variants on 「◯◯意味」「◯◯とは」, for those of you curious. Note that all bar two of the words are English, and one of these two is an English word abbreviated and made into a Japanese-form adjective.
kanji dictionaries

1. SNS

Even when spelt out, the full term Social Networking Service probably means little to the average Japanese…

2. 忖度, sontaku

This is a very old Japanese word, from the 10th century according to the text, and came to the fore during revelations of suspicions of political influence by the Prime Minister into dubious dealings. The word itself sparked much debate, including if there was an equivalent English term. I would translate it as “doing what you think the boss would hope you would do, not what you think is best”. Here is Reuters explaining the word and the scandal surrounding it.

3. Account

This is in the sense (usually) of an online account, rather than a bank account, which has a proper Japanese name.

4. Chaos

This word gets bandied about where “chaotic” would probably be better, if people were speaking English, not Japanese.

5. Respect

There’s a perfectly good, common word for this in Japanese, so there’s probably some subtle difference I don’t understand between respecting things in Japanese and English. The article mentions that the word is creeping into the Japanese vocabulary from Japanese sportspeople based overseas, as well as the more obvious but less common hip-hop route.

6. Archive

Another most likely online-related word, that I can well understand people looking up.

7. Line (LINE?)

I’m not sure why people are looking this up; just about everyone these days is on LINE, and the only other place I can think it might appear is as in railway line.

8. Emoi

In 2016 this was in second place for “New Word of the Year” as chosen by a famous dictionary company. It is from an abbreviation of “emotional” and the extra “i” at the end makes it into an adjective. I don’t believe it has any relationship to the Emo sub-culture.

9. NFC

Much like SNS, Near Field Communication means little spelt out (and probably in English too), but NFC seems to be replacing more common terms like “IC Chip”.

10. Storage

Yet another most likely online-related word, that I can well understand people looking up.


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