Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Nov 27 06:12:18 UTC 2011

The New Shogakukan Random House English-Japanese Dictionary lists kibei undated, with references to the Random House Dictionary, Webster's Third and Random House Webster's College Dictionary. Wiktionary lists the word, but the OED does not have it.

The earliest instance I find in Google Books is 1938. By 1944, a number of hits come up.

The word is derived from 帰米 (return America), and refers to Japanese-Americans/immigrants sent back to Japan for education, often then returning to America. They faced discrimination in Japan for being essentially foreign and when they returned to the US.

1. 1938
The Lutheran, Volume 21, Board of Publication of the United Lutheran Church in America, p. 101 (

There is a name for them; it is Kibei.

2. 1940

>From many lands, Louis Adamič, Harper & Brothers (

page 222:
Many kibei return to the United States.

page 230:
They had a new houseboy, a kibei,

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

The American Dialect Society -

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