One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A Japanese token of esteem forming part of the wrapping of a gift, originally a piece of dried awabi but now usually a specially folded piece of paper.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Frederic Shoberl (1775–1853), journalist and writer. From Japanese noshi a stretched-out, dried abalone strip, which was originally placed inside a decoratively folded paper as an element of formal gift-wrapping, short for noshi-awabi from noshi-, combining stem of nosu to stretch out + awabi.
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