from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A black enamel or lacquer used to produce a durable glossy finish.
  • n. An object decorated with this substance.
  • transitive v. To decorate with a black enamel or lacquer.
  • transitive v. To coat with a glossy finish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A hard black enamel varnish containing asphalt.
  • n. Lacquer ware.
  • v. To varnish with japan.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to Japan, or to the lacquered work of that country.
  • n. Work varnished and figured in the Japanese manner; also, the varnish or lacquer used in japanning.
  • transitive v. To cover with a coat of hard, brilliant varnish, in the manner of the Japanese; to lacquer.
  • transitive v. To give a glossy black to, as shoes.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or pertaining to Japan: as, Japan varnish (now written “japan varnish,” without reference to the country); Japan work, etc.
  • n. Work varnished and figured in the manner practised by the natives of Japan.
  • n. A liquid having somewhat the nature of a varnish, made by cooking gum shellac with linseed-oil in a varnish-kettle.
  • n. An asphaltum varnish.
  • n. A black cane.
  • To varnish with japan; cover with any material which gives a hard black gloss.
  • To invest with the black coat of a clergyman; ordain.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. coat with a lacquer, as done in Japan
  • n. lacquer with a durable glossy black finish, originally from the orient
  • n. a string of more than 3,000 islands to the east of Asia extending 1,300 miles between the Sea of Japan and the western Pacific Ocean
  • n. lacquerware decorated and varnished in the Japanese manner with a glossy durable black lacquer
  • n. a constitutional monarchy occupying the Japanese Archipelago; a world leader in electronics and automobile manufacture and ship building


After Japan .
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Japan, due to this varnishing process being an imitation of oriental (East Asian) processes. (Wiktionary)


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