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Head honcho, karaoke, tsunami, emoji

Created date

March 2nd, 2018

Head honcho

“Head honcho” is a casual reference to the person in charge of a community or organization. Etymologists believe the phrase came into use around the mid-1950s, which makes sense considering that the United States had just fought two Asian wars.

In this case, “honcho” comes from the Japanese term of the same spelling (in our alphabet, of course). Roughly translated, a “honcho” in Japan is a “leader,” while some scholars translate more specifically to “squad leader.”

“Before anyone makes business decisions, they have to clear them with the company’s head honcho.”


For years, “karaoke” has been a fixture at parties and in bars around the world. As most people probably already know, karaoke is a method of singing popular songs by way of a special tape or CD player that eliminates the vocals, leaving only the music.

The singer then supplies his or her own vocal rendition to the familiar tune.

Once again, we got the term and the activity itself from Japan. Karaoke is a combination of the Japanese words for empty (“kara”) and the shortened form of “okesutora” (“oke”), meaning orchestra.

In the late 1970s, karaoke became a well-known reference to the activity and the machines used to do it.

“Alcohol is often responsible for very entertaining karaoke because it loosens you up and makes you want to sing, no matter how terrible you are.”


There are a number of devastating factors that arise from earthquakes: structural damage, natural gas explosions, fires. But it’s the “tsunami” that truly strikes fear into the hearts of those who live on the Pacific’s islands and coasts.

Earthquakes far out in the ocean are capable of creating enough vibration to displace massive amounts of seawater, sending deadly waves roaring onto islands and coastlines.

The term comes from the Japanese words “tsu,” which means harbor, and “nami,” meaning wave.

“Because it hits with tremendous force, a tsunami can be ruinous to a landmass in its path.”


Just about every cell phone on the planet now has access to a library of “emojis.” Handheld devices generally have hundreds or thousands of them; and in the age of email and text communications, they’ve proven infinitely helpful in shortening the length of messages.

An “emoji” is a pictograph or symbol (usually faces depicting emotions) that people can insert into messages. For instance, if someone were to cancel a party, you would respond to his announcement with a sad-faced emoji.

The practice originated in Japan and debuted in the late 1990s. The word is a combination of the Japanese symbol for “picture” (simply an e in English) and “moji,” meaning character.

Like “karaoke,” the term “emoji” is now a permanent part of the English lexicon.

“It seems like there’s always a new emoji to add to my phone.”