Did you know how funny Japanese tea was? Neither did I, until someone called me お茶目. Never content to let a potentially interesting origin story go unexplored, I did some internet research and discovered that "tea" is hilarious!
First, you should know that 茶 by itself, can be defined as "mockery," and you should know that in all likelihood, it's 当て字。Many of the kanji in the words we're about to look at are listed as 当て字 on various internet sources.
The 茶 here means おどける.
ちゃちゃ を いれる
chacha wo ireru
to tease; make fun of
the name for funny, farcical, humorous scenes in old Kabuki or bunraku dramas; archaic, but important for us because, according to some theories, it spawned ちゃら.
nonsense; bullshit; random speech.
I don't know if ちゃら is ever used by itself, but it lends its meaning to all of the following compounds.
speaking senseless lies.
「ほら」 is a common attention getting utterance, that I always thought just meant "Look!" Along the same attention-related lines though, there's 法螺: which means boasting or bragging, which is where ちゃらほら pulls in the meaning of 嘘. Or it could just be, 「ほら！You're lying!」 But ちゃらほら is thought to be the precursor of the next word, ちゃらんぽらん。
off-hand, off-the-cuff, devil-may-care speech
There's an お笑いコンビ that goes by the name ザ・ちゃらんぽらん. You can see some of their stuff on YouTube, but they don't seem particularly funny to me.
This gets used with an honorific, as either 「おちゃらける」 or 「おちゃらけ.」
Again, use with the honorific 「お.」
Extremely hard to define, but it covers ideas of "messing around," "showing off," "lavishing someone with flattery," "the appearance of cheap flashy clothing," and "flippant behavior." I find all of these kinds of 擬音 words hard to use (I've had some DISASTERS, putting ぎりぎり into practice), but if you want to use it, it goes along with する。
Probably the most commonly used of these phrases, judging by the number of internet posts devoted to it, 「ちゃんちゃら」 goes with 「おかしい」 like 'q' goes with 'u.' There are two definitions of something that's ちゃんちゃらおかしい:
1. So ridiculously funny that you can't help but to burst out laughing. Here's the Japanese definition , in case my translation is bad: 身のほど知らずで、噴き出したくなるほどおかしい.まったく滑稽だ.
2. A boast that is so brazenly untrue that it's strange/ridiculous: 身のほども知らない大言壮語を吐いておかしい.
You guys got a bonus 四字熟語 in that last definition there, and I found another one in my researches today that I'll post for you tomorrow. See you then.
Here are some of the links I used to write this post: