Panko, the brand of bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine, gets its name from the Japanese words for "bread", pan, and "crumb", ko. If you speak a Romance language and pan looks familiar to you, you'd be right. The Japanese actually learned how to make bread from Portuguese sailors in the sixteenth century, so they also borrowed the Portuguese word for it, pão (which sounds a little like pan). This isn't the only instance of a Luso-Japanese borrowing, either: I've written in the past how tempura comes from the Portuguese word for "time", and there's a whole Wikipedia page on the phenomenon. The -ko part of the word traces all the way back to an Old Japanese noun also pronounced ko and meaning "powder". It's really cool how two very different language families came together to give us a word for something!
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.