The word ecchi is etymologically derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the letter H. In modern Japanese, the word is predominantly "sexual" in nature (akin to the English words dirty or naughty), carrying slightly negative connotations, but not necessarily "perverted" (which is usually reserved for the word hentai) unless it is being used to describe a person. Note that "ecchi" is a non-standard romanization — using Hepburn it would be "etchi", but this spelling is comparatively rare both in Japan and outside it.
Ecchi as an adjective can be translated as lewd or sexy, while as a noun it can be translated as sexual intercourse, e.g. to do ecchi (ecchi suru) would mean to have sex. Interestingly, the word sekkusu is also used in Japan for sex, however Japanese native words for sex have fallen out of popular usage when describing this very basic act. For example the word koubi means sex, but usage is restricted mostly to the arena of biologists describing animal life.
One theory states that ecchi derives from the first letter of the word hentai, however the two words have different meanings. The word hentai as a noun describes a sexually perverted person, but not sexual intercourse. It is not used as a verb, and when it is used as an adjective, it refers to something associated with perverts, e.g. hentai puree usually refers to BDSM sex play.
In English, the word is often used in the context of manga and anime. The term Ecchi is applied to anime or manga that has vague sexual content (such a skimpy clothing, partial or full nudity), but does not show sexual intercourse. However, ecchi has historically often been used as a synonym of hentai, presumably due to confusion of the two; thus it can carry different connotations than allowed for by the original Japanese. In recent years, however, its use by English-speakers has largely realigned with the Japanese meaning – although H (pronounced as the standard aitch) has become a completely separate term, inclusive of all of the above.
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46