PET in general use?

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Tue Nov 15 20:23:41 UTC 2011

I first heard petto botoru (PET bottle) about twenty years ago in Japan, referring to the bottles made out of polyethylene terephthalate. In Japan, hard plastic is called purasuchikku (plastic) and soft plastic such as used for bags is called ビニール (vinyl); as neither word for "plastic" is appropriate for plastic bottles, it seems PET was adopted. 

When translating petto or PET to English, I therefore use "plastic."

I was surprised last night to find "PET bottles" listed as contents on the side of a Mr. Beer beer crafting kit. 

I see that the word is used in community forums discussing their PET bottles:

The OED has PET back to 1965, with another citation in 1991 (nothing on the AHD). The 1965 citation is chemical and the 1991 is garbage-related, so neither seem to be indicative of popular usage. 

I don't imagine people latching onto PET soon for plastic Coke bottles, but at least the beer-crafting segment of the population is becoming acquainted with the term.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list