san·​to·​ku ˌsan-ˈtō-kü How to pronounce santoku (audio)
plural santokus
: a medium-sized, multipurpose kitchen knife of Japanese origin that has a lightweight blade with a straight or slightly curved cutting edge and a spine that curves downward to the tip
The santoku has long been the Japanese equivalent of a chef's knife … . Compared with a classic chef's knife, the santoku is typically shorter and has a thinner blade, a stubbier tip, and a straighter edge.Maryellen Driscoll

Examples of santoku in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The set comes with six essential cooking blades, including paring, santoku, and chef's knives, along with six steak knives and a pair of kitchen shears. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 26 Feb. 2023 The set comes with seven different essential knives, including a 7-inch santoku knife and a 3-inch paring knife, a set of six steak knives, a honing steel, and a pair of kitchen shears, along with a wooden block to keep everything organized in one place. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 19 Feb. 2023 This handy kit includes a bread knife, a seven-inch santoku knife, and a razor-sharp seven-inch chef’s knife. Audrey Bruno, SELF, 27 Jan. 2023 This 7-inch santoku from Shun is light and agile, resistant to both corrosion and stains, and protected by 68 layers of stainless Damascus cladding for a long-lasting edge. Kevin Cortez, Popular Mechanics, 22 Sep. 2022 The most common one in the U.S. is the santoku, which is a general-purpose knife that’s distinct from Western-style blades in a few important ways. Edmund Torr, Popular Science, 25 Feb. 2021 Two common shapes in the U.S. are the gyuto (chef’s knife) and the shorter santoku. Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit, 9 Nov. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'santoku.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Japanese santoku-(bōchō), literally, "three-virtues (knife)," from san "three" + toku "virtue"

Note: The Japanese word supposedly refers to the multiple functions of the knife (an adaptation of Western kitchen knives), though its precise origin has not been illuminated.

First Known Use

1993, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of santoku was in 1993

Dictionary Entries Near santoku

Cite this Entry

“Santoku.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

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