Japanese Slang: チンする (Chin Suru), The Sound of a Microwave?

As in other languages, Japanese slangs are important in daily conversations. Today, let’s take a look at one phrase that you can immediately use in your life

Microwaving your Bento/Food
What did it Originate from?
Using it in Casual Conversations

Microwaving your Bento/Food

Do you often buy prepared meal to warm up with a microwave oven? In Japan, takeout or home-packed meal, commonly known as “bentō” 「弁当 in Japanese cuisine are mass produced and sold everywhere.

A bentō holds rice with fish or meat and vegetables in a box-shaped container. Some might have a debate over the nutritional value of a prepared dish. Nevertheless, it had been clear that since the 80s, bentō had already become an integral part of the Japanese’s daily life.

There are several reasons. Working hours are quite long and Japanese people are sometimes so busy that they do not have time to prepare proper meal or even to go to the food court. As such, they some would just run to the closest convenience store to buy their lunch. 

A bentō might also be prepared at home in the morning to be eaten in school or at the workplace. This gives the Japanese many opportunities to recycle any leftovers they have from the previous night.

In general, precooked meals had became popular with the emergence of the microwave oven. If that’s the case, what Japanese word would you use to indicate that you are “warming up your bentō in a microwave oven”? Well, it would none other than the Japanese Slang word: “Chin Suru” 「チンする」!

What did it Originate from?

Funny word, isn’t it? The word finds its origin in the sound “chin” that the first household microwave ovens made to notify that cooking was complete. By adding the suffix “~suru” to this sound, it creates the verb “chin suru”: to warm up/cook with microwave oven.

The sound “chin” was so well known in Japan, that it was even used in commercial for a snack, known as “chinchin potato” 「チンチンポテト」. Not to mention that this was a poor choice of words on the part of the company. Well, it sounded kind of inappropriate to say the least.

Nevertheless, the sound of the microwave oven had changed over the years and in Japanese onomatopoeia, the microwave oven now goes by the sound of “pi pi pi” 「ピピピ」. The popularity of the word “Chinsuru”, however, remained.

Surely, it may sound like kid talk, but it is used by all generations. In convenience stores, the clerk usually asks if you need to warm up your meal. The word typically used would be “atatamemasuka”「温めますか?」 which would basically translate to “would you like to have it warmed up?”.

From time to time, the staff may also ask you “chin shimasuka?” 「チンしますか?」. The word itself had also been used very often by takeout companies to advertise the convenience of their prepared meal or to advertise recipes’ books:

“When you don’t have time to prepare meal, only warm up”.
“Only warm up with microwave oven recipes for busy women”
“Meal to warm up”

Using it in Casual Conversations

Let’s see the use of this Japanese slang in a casual conversation!
夫: じゃあ、いってきまーす。
妻: あ、ちょっと待って!今夜、友達と食事する予定だから、昨日の残り物のおかずで悪いんだけど、チンして食べてくれる?冷蔵庫にいろいろ入ってるから。
夫: あ、そうなんだ。分かった。
【Asa, fufu no kaiwa】
Otto: Jaa, itte kimasu!
Tsuma: Ah, chotto matte. Konya tomodachi to shokuji suru yotei dakara, kinou no nokorimono okazude waruindakedo, chin shite tabete kureru? Reizouko ni iroiro haitteiru kara.
Otto: Ah, sou nanda. Wakatta.

English Translation:
【Morning conversation between husband and wife】
Husband : Well, I am off, see you later.
Wife : Oh, wait a minute! I am going out for dinner with a friend tonight, would you mind to warm up (chin suru) yesterday’s leftovers and eat them? There are various things in the refrigerator.
Husband : Oh, I see. Ok, sure. 

Click this link to read about the Japanese Slang: Jiko chuu!

Credit CC BY 2.0: Ryan Li
Title: Angry Bird in Microwave
Modified by Coto Japanese Academy
source: Flickr

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