Osusowake (おすそわけ – Sharing)

  • Osusowake


    When distributing goods or benefits that you received to your friends or others, it is called osusowake (おすそわけ).

    O (お) is a polite prefifx, suso (すそ) means “hem (of kimono),” wake (わけ) means “to distribute/divide,” so the literal meaning of osusowake is “to distribute one’s hems.”
    「お」は丁寧の接頭辞、「すそ」は “hem”、「分け」は “to distribute/divide” を意味するので、「おすそわけ」の文字どおりの意味は “to distribute one’s hems” となります。

    Here, since “hem” is the edge of clothes and are close to the ground, it can also mean “trivial thing” or “unimportant thing.”

    Because of this, osusowake originally meant to distribute something to lower-ranking people — some people think that it is rude to use this word to higher-ranking people.

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