Coined as a cant word in the Meiji period. Derived originally from the term 角袖 (kakusode, Japanese-style overclothes, literally square sleeve, corner sleeve), in reference to the everyday clothing of plainclothes officers, as opposed to regular constables or police officers who would wear uniforms. The term kakusode was reversed by its constituent parts, producing sodekaku, and then abbreviated to produce deka.[1][2][3]

Although not explicitly recorded in dictionaries, the abbreviation process apparently involved a reformulation from sodekaku to kusodeka to include the term (kuso, crap, shit). This was then reanalyzed as kuso “crappy, shitty” + deka “detective”, with the latter part then being used independently.

The English term dick as slang for detective appears to be more recent, and thus had no influence on the formation of the Japanese term.

First attested in an argot dictionary of 1892.[1]



でか (deka

  1. [from 1892] (slang) a detective, a plainclothes police officer or constable



  1. 1.0 1.1 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  2. 2.0 2.1 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
  3. ^ 1995, 大辞泉 (Daijisen) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan, →ISBN
  4. ^ 1997, 新明解国語辞典 (Shin Meikai Kokugo Jiten), Fifth Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN

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