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The following excerpt is from the top answer on 知乎:

丈夫每天吃自己做的便当(没错,是他自己做的,不是他妻子做的)她吃大餐,去一次美容院就能花4.2万。看表情就知道,这位太太毫无愧疚之心,可能还觉得自己萌萌哒。两人摊牌后,妻子没有道歉,而是要求丈夫以后更努力工作赚钱。最后以这男人跳下站台自杀,妻子改嫁结束。

The 便当 here means a bento-box. However, since it is clear that "bento" in English is a loanword from Japanese, I feel that it is a loanword from Japanese in Mandarin as well, not a word that had been incorporated into Japanese.

However, the Japanese word is 弁当, not 便当. So my question is:

  • Is my assumption correct that it is a loanword from Japanese?

  • If that is true, then why is it called 便当 in Chinese? And when did it start to be called as such?

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    Baidu answer: 最早源于南宋时期的俗语“便当”,意思是“便利的东西、方便、顺利”。传入日本后,曾以“便道”、“辨道”、“辨当”等当字(当て字)表记。 “便当”一词后来反传入中国是源于日语“弁当”(音:bentou)。更多已经简化翻译成Bento了,在大陆大部分地区习惯称为“盒饭”,即盒装餐食。在台湾地区一般称为 便当,通常用于午餐、外卖、工作餐等场合。“便当”与“盒饭”在用法上有细微差异,“盒饭”一词更倾向于简单粗糙的饭食,如“日式便当”一词,就很少被说成“日式盒饭”。baike.baidu.com/item/%E4%BE%BF%E5%BD%93/6032932?fr=aladdin – dan Oct 28 '17 at 23:47
  • @dan Can you make it as an answer, possibly in English and possibly in more elaboration? – Blaszard Oct 30 '17 at 7:02
  • I made a rough one below fyr. – dan Oct 30 '17 at 7:31
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I try to make a rough translation here:

便当, originated from the Southern Song Dynasty, meaning "convenient things, convenient, smooth".

When introduced into Japan, it became “便道”、“辨道”、“辨当”.

Later, when the term “便当” was transplanted back to China from Japan, it's referenced to 弁当(bentou/bento).

The term 盒饭, (that is 盒装餐食), is used in mainland, while 便当 is usually used in Taiwan.

However, there is a nuance between 盒饭 and 便当. 便当 is more delicate than 盒饭. 盒饭 is usually just simple and normal food.

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