How to say Chocolate in 6 languages

7 Jan 2021

Chocolate Knowledge

Unsurprisingly, our favourite topic is chocolate, and we don’t just love making it and eating it. We also love talking about it and learning about it (preferably with a big mug of hot chocolate in hand). With cocoa in hand, let’s learn how to say chocolate in different languages – and taste it, too!

We have a range of Rare and Vintage Chocolate which is made from the world’s top 10% of cacao. We don’t blend it with other cocoa beans either – it’s all harvested from the same area. That means it gives you a very pure taste of a specific region’s chocolate. For example, you could try a Colombia 75% Coffee Dark Chocolate, a Honduras 65% Supermilk Chocolate, or the Dominican Republic 42% White Chocolate. Even better, get a selection and take a trip around the world of chocolate with just a few bites.

Single origin chocolate bar with cacao pod

For this post, we’ve delved into the history books and foreign language dictionaries to find out all about our favourite word – chocolate. After reading, you’ll know where the word comes from and how to say it in six different languages. It’ll definitely come in handy next time you want to order something sweet when you’re on holiday…

The origin of the word chocolate

Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? It’s thought that the word chocolate comes from the Aztec word “xocoatl”. The Aztecs were some of the world’s first chocolate lovers – they even thought that cocoa had magical powers! However, the good stuff has come a long way since then. You’ll find people across the world who love the tasty cacao-based treat. And that means there are thousands of ways to say chocolate in different languages. To give you a taste, we’ve put together our favourite ways of saying chocolate from around the globe…

How to say chocolate in different languages

Japanese – チョコレート / Chokorēto

In Japan chocolate is called チョコレート (pronounced chokorēto) and is a popular confectionery – if you take a trip there you’ll find it in all convenience stores and supermarkets. It’s also a popular street food, with chocolate-covered bananas a common sight at Japanese festivals

Japanese Chocolate in a glass case

Chocolate is especially important in Japan on Valentine’s Day, but its role is a little different to what you might expect. Unlike in the UK, where we often swap chocolate gifts with our romantic partners, in Japan, it’s only the women who give chocolate – not just to their boyfriends and husbands but also to male friends and colleagues.

They even have special phrases to distinguish between these gifts – see how many ways there are to say chocolate in different languages? The chocolate they give someone they have romantic feelings for is called “honmei choco” (“true feeling chocolate”) whilst the chocolate they give the other men in their lives is called “giri choco” (“obligation chocolate”).

If you want to get in on this Japanese tradition, we have plenty of gifts that a male recipient would love. However, we prefer it when the chocolate-giving goes both ways! Each year we carefully curate our range of Valentine’s Day gifts to make sure they are all tasty enough to steal anyone’s heart, no matter their gender.

Finnish – suklaa / kaakao / kaakaojuoma

Finns just love chocolate, every year they consume around 5.5kg of the stuff each! They love it so much that they have three (yes, three!) ways to say chocolate – “suklaa”, “kaakao”, and “kaakaojuoma”.

Suklaa is the word they use to describe solid chocolate (the stuff you find in bars or boxes). Kaakao is the word they use to describe either the cacao plant itself or, more colloquially, hot chocolate, and kaakaojuoma is more specifically used to describe hot chocolate or chocolate milk. If you were to buy any sort of liquid chocolate in a supermarket, it would have kaakaojuoma on the label.

The most popular type of chocolate in Finland is Fazer, which most Fins agree is the best chocolate around. Packaged in a very specific shade of blue – Fazerin Sininen literally translates to “Fazer’s Blue” – this chocolate is as quintessentially Finnish as snow and saunas.

Italian – cioccolato

In Italy, the word for chocolate chocolate is “cioccolato” (sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?). “Cioccolatini” (which literally means little chocolates) is used to describe a pack of individual chocolates found in a package or box and “cioccolata calda” means hot chocolate. Italians also have a special word for a hot chocolate maker (like our Velvetiser) – “cioccolatiera”. However, our favourite chocolate-related word has to be “cioccolatoso”, which means chocolatey.

chocolate spread on bread
Why not try our decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Spread?

It’s not just the words for chocolate which are wonderful. Italian chocolate itself is pretty fantastic. Anyone who’s ever enjoyed a good dollop of chocolate spread on toast, in a crêpe, or straight from the jar has a lot to thank Italy for.

Gianduja – a sweet spread made from chocolate and hazelnuts – was the world’s first chocolate spread prototype and was made in Turin during Napoleon’s regency. The Napolean war had put a strain on cocoa supplies so a chocolatier mixed it with hazelnuts – which grew abundantly in the region – and chocolate in spread form was born. If you want to indulge in some of this iconic Italian chocolate, treat yourself to our Gianduja Ribbon Bag.

Turinese belief also states that its cold and snowy alpine winters inspired the creation of cioccolata calda! It should therefore come as little surprise that they consider Turin to be the European capital of chocolate and hosts a Festa di Cioccolato – a festival of chocolate – every winter. We might just make our next trip to Italy to Turin…

Basque – txokolatea

Spoken in the Basque Country – a region in the Western Pyrenees which straddles Northern Spain and Southern France – it may surprise you to find out that Basque is nothing like Spanish or French. It’s an isolate language, making it completely unique and unrelated to any other languages. However, its word for chocolate – “txokolate” doesn’t look too different to others, does it?

Although their language is very different, people in the Basque Country love chocolate as much as the rest of us. In the early 1800s, it was a staple of breakfasts throughout the region and nowadays it’s particularly important on Basque birthdays. Often, a person will celebrate their big day with a cup of liquid chocolate instead of a cake! Now, we don’t know about you, but spending a birthday in the Basque region just got very appealing…

Turkish – çikolata

Turks call chocolate “çikolata” and are the 5th largest consumers of chocolate in the world.

When thinking of Turkey and chocolate, your mind will probably immediately wander to the Turkish Delight chocolate bar which has been around in the UK since the early 1900s. However, in Turkey, Turkish delight – or “lokum” as they call it- doesn’t usually have a chocolate coating. It was the British that first covered it in chocolate and marketed it as a chocolate bar.

Traditional Turksish delight at a market stall

In Turkey, they actually prefer their chocolate with a wafer filling or packed with lots of nuts. We have to agree that sounds pretty delicious. We especially love marrying nuts and chocolate and have a large range of Nut Chocolate which we’re sure any Turkish chocolate fans would approve of.

Similarly to in the UK, chocolate is a favourite component of desserts in Turkey, and a common Turkish chocolate dessert is the “Supangle”. With a base of cake or biscuit, a filling of rich chocolate pudding, and a garnish of pistachios or other nuts, this sounds like the sort of dessert we could easily fall in love with. We’re definitely trying it on our next holiday in Turkey!

Russian – шоколад / shokolad

Russians call chocolate “шоколад” (pronounced shokolad) and hot chocolate “горячий шоколад” (pronounced goryachiy shokolad). Russians particularly love the latter, especially in their famously cold winters, and they don’t mess around. Order some hot chocolate in Russia and you’ll get an extremely thick and rich serving of melted chocolate in a tiny cup. We think it’s pretty wonderful but there’s no need to visit Russia to experience it. 

To recreate the magic at home, simply melt chocolate and add in some milk and some cream. We recommend using some of our Chocolate Batons. These whole sticks of creamy chocolate are perfect for melting and will create an ultra-intense hot chocolate experience that wouldn’t taste out of place in a Russian cafe.

Why is chocolate so similar in so many languages?

From the Japanese “chokorēto” to the Turkish “çikolata”, you’ve probably noticed that chocolate in different languages still sounds similar. Even when the different characters make them appear very different to the English, their pronunciation is still basically the same. Wondering why?

Well, the reason is very simple – every word for chocolate is a descendant of that ancient Aztec word “xocoatl”. It first entered the English language via Spanish, entered the Turkish language via Italian, entered the Finnish language via Swedish and so on – passing down through languages like a delicious heirloom.

We’ve fallen in love with the different ways to say chocolate just like we fell in love with chocolate many years ago and we hope you’ve enjoyed learning about them as much as we did! Now, let’s go and plan a holiday somewhere nice so we have an excuse to use them…