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Bokeh (photographic term) 2007/8/8 04:18
A widely spread Japanese word in the photographic world is ぼけ (usually romanized as Bokeh to help pronunciation for English speakers). See
It is supposed to mean 'fuzzy' but my dictionary doesn't give that meaning at all but gives 'idiot' or 'fool' as translation. Assuming that nobody played a prank on a non-suspecting photographer (^_^;;) I have a suspicion that the word derives from 'bokasu' (暈す) but I'm not sure. Does any of you know how they got to use boke for fuzzy in this context?
by Kappa  

PIN BOKEH 2007/8/8 09:40
BOKEH comes from the Japanese phrase "ピントを暈す(PINTO WO BOKASU)" or "ピントが暈ける(PINTO GA BOKERU)" and both of them mean "out-of focus."

You may heard the word "ピント(PINTO)" and this does not come from English but Dutch. ("brandpunt" = focus)

Probably, photographers skipped the word "ピント(PINTO)" because it's so obvious in the context.
by J Lady rate this post as useful

Just to add 2007/8/8 10:19
No prank, don't worry :)

Indeed, the word used to describe that kind of "out-of-focus" photo i photography is normally "pin-boke," short for "pinto ga boketa" (The focus is blurred). "pinto" means "focus," and is a word imported from Dutch. "bokeru" is "(something) becomes blurry," and "bokasu" is to "make something blurry." So I believe this is where it comes from.

The other commonly used "boke," to mean "stupid" comes from the same-sounding word "bokeru," but with a different kanji, 呆ける. This can mean (1) to go senile (to go weak), or (2) to play the fool (intentionally). Often in Osaka dialect, this second meaning turned "boke" into "a fool," "stupid," and this is something you may hear here and there.
by AK rate this post as useful

Re: Bokeh (photographic term) 2007/8/8 15:43
Thanks JLady and AK.
by Kappa rate this post as useful

Specific 2007/8/8 23:21
The word Bokeh used in photography is very specific.

It refers to the shape and general impression of POINTS or small areas of light, and how they look when they are out of focus.

For example, lets say you have a person in focus in the foreground, and the background is out of focus. The background is forest, with small points of brighter light coming through. These points of light, when out of focus, will become larger and softer than an in focus point of light.

Neutral Bokeh is where the points of light become round, slightly soft edged discs. Good Bokeh is where you have very soft edged discs. Bad Bokeh is where you have donut shapes, or other shapes still have somewhat sharp edges.
by Sandy rate this post as useful

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