Origins of the Word: Nishikigoi

Nishikigoi 錦鯉 (pron. Nee-shee-kee-goy) is a two part Japanese word. It is "Nishiki" (trans. brocaded) and "Koi" (trans. carp) put together. When the two words are combined for Nishikigoi, the letter “k” changes to the letter “g”. If you find yourself in Japan, or if you are talking to a person that is fluent in the Japanese language, it is a good idea to use the full word Nishikigoi, instead of the western way, Koi, when talking about the colored carp. If you use the word Koi, the Japanese person or persons that you talk to might become confused, since the word Koi is what is used for their ordinary food carp. They will give you a puzzled look when you tell them how much money you spent for a plain carp.

The reason the word Koi is used by westerners is that it is much easier to pronounce than Nishikigoi (although, sometimes it seems that people have a hard time pronouncing even the short word Koi.) Spelling the word Koi is a challenge to many people too. The word Koi is often misspelled like: Kio, Coy, Koy or even Coi.


The Japanese use the word Nishiki (brocade), because the beautiful colors and patterns on the Koi share a likeness to their ornate textiles.


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