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Etymology 1Edit

Probably derived originally as a compound of (e, animal feed) +‎ 取り (tori, taking, the 連用形 (ren'yōkei, continuative or stem form) of verb 取る toru, “to take”).

The kanji form 穢多 first appeared in 1296 in the folded book 天狗草紙 (Tengu Sōshi). The word itself appears as the earlier form etori in 935 in the 和名類聚抄 (Wamyō Ruijushō), with this and later sources indicating that the word originally meant the job or profession of preparing food for hawks and falcons. Over time, this came to mean anyone dealing with butchery, which itself was viewed as an unclean profession, and by extension then the untouchables of Japanese society.

As alternate theories, eta may have developed out of association with the word 蝦夷 (ezo, the Ezo or Ainu ethnic group), or from the word 穢手 (ete, cleaner, janitor).



えた (rōmaji eta)

  1. 穢多: (historical, offensive) the lowest group in Japan’s caste system during the Edo period

Etymology 2Edit

The perfective form or past tense of various verbs.


えた (rōmaji eta)

  1. past tense of える (eru) [ichidan]


  1. ^ 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
  • 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan