The following excerpt is from the top answer on 知乎:


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?

  • 1
    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
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 23:47
  • @dan Can you make it as an answer, possibly in English and possibly in more elaboration?
    – Blaszard
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 7:02
  • I made a rough one below fyr.
    – dan
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 7:31

1 Answer 1


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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