Cuttings: 海老 - Old People of the Sea 海老 - Old People of the Sea | Cuttings

Things of interest.

August 15, 2010

海老 - Old People of the Sea

Of prawns and their likeness to grapes and the elderly.





  • Literal translation: “Sea, old people”
  • Idiomatic translation: “Shrimp (Old people of the sea)”
  • Reading: えび (Ebi)

From ウィキペディア:


The Japanese word, ebi, originally referred to grapes (and their colour). Shrimps came to be called ebi because of how they resembled the colour of grapes. Even now, dark, grape-like purplish-red colours are still read as “the colour of grapes (ebi)”.

As for the use of the kanji characters 海 (‘sea’) and 老 (‘old people’): shrimps are likened to old people because of their long beards (feelers) and curved backs.


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