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O-toku means 'a bargain' or 'a special'. The word toku is a Chinese-derived word that means 'benefit' or 'advantage'. The o- is prefixed as a form of respect by retailers towards the general public, informing them that this is to your 'honourable benefit', as the clichéd translation goes.

In Chinese characters, o-toku is written . This can be found frequently enough. :

Suimingu pasupōto
Kikan-chū nando demo go-riyō itadakeru o-toku na pasupōto desu.

Swimming passport
A bargain passport that can be used any time during the term of validity.

But it's also very common to write toku in katakana as .

Onna no ko da mon. Toku shinakucha.
I'm a girl! I've got to get a bargain.

Kono natsu o-toku na kippu
This summer, a bargain ticket

Furii eria nai no Shinkansen, tokkyū shiteiseki ga nori-hōdai de kono o-nedan.
Danjo futari de (Tōkyō toku-nai hatsu)
44,000 en
Tatoeba o-futari deTōkyō kara Aomori made tabi o suru to?
Yaku 20,000 en mo o-toku!

Shinkansen and express reserved seats can be used freely within the 'free area', and at this price.
For a couple (departing from within Tokyo to)
44,000 yen
So if two travel from Tokyo to Aomori?
Roughly 20,000 yen saving!

This usage is probably related to the aggressive advertising and promotional nature of the term. The character means simply 'to obtain', as a verb read eru. It is apt to be used i spoken sales pitches (okyakusama, o-toku desu yo! -- 'It's a bargain!'). Katakana are useful in emphasising this.

The following distribution of forms was found through a Google search in August 2003. is by far the favoured form.

No. of occurrences

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