Writings > Lexical Leavings


A Japanese lexicographer asked me about the origin of the word アジト, which most Japanese-Japanese dictionaries claim to be an abbreviation of the putatively English "agitating point." As he pointed out, nearly all the Web hits for "agitating point" come from Japanese sites, calling into question its supposed English provenance.

I discovered that at least two dictionaries—新明解国語辞典 and 三省堂国語辞典—trace the word instead to the Russian agitpunkt, and indeed such a word with a similar meaning is defined in Ozhegov's Russian-Russian dictionary (1968) and Kenkyusha's Russian-Japanese dictionary (1988). So it seems that most of the kokugo dictionaries are wrong, the two Sanseido dictionaries are right, and アジト comes from агитпункт.

(June 22, 2003)