Guide to Japanese Slang

By Alexis Goss | Created September 22, 2020

This article focuses on helping you learn Japanese slang and casual speech. This article is a part of our extensive series of guides on how to learn Japanese.

The following article was written by Alexis Goss with support from Tyson Batino.

Japanese slang used in the biggest city in the world

Do you want to sound cool when you’re talking with your Japanese friends? Are you trying to figure out what your favorite anime characters are shouting? Does Japanese internet slang seem incomprehensible to you? You’re not alone! We’ve compiled a few Japanese slang words to get you started on your path to casual conversation. This guide is for people who want to learn casual vocabulary they can’t find in basic textbooks. We’ve sorted some cool words by region, age group, and difficulty. There are even some tips on how to learn more!

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    Why learn Japanese slang?

    First and foremost, it’s fun to feel included in the conversations around you! If you’re speaking super formally at your friend’s karaoke party you’re going to sound stiff. Casual speech shows you’re part of the group even if you’re worried about using slang yourself, you’ll still need to understand what the people around you are saying. The great thing is that a lot of Japanese slang words are written in hiragana or katakana, so you don’t have to get hung up on the kanji.

    Sticking to polite language can be helpful in introducing yourself as someone who cares about getting things right and respecting others, but if you never use casual speech you’ll seem like a standoffish person who doesn’t want to be friends. Try and balance your language so you seem professional but approachable when appropriate. 

    Using Japanese slang at a ramen stand

    When can I use Japanese slang words?

    The Japanese language places a heavy emphasis on politeness, and the last thing you want to do is say something you’re going to cringe over later. Japanese is known for its many levels of politeness, from differential keigo to standard classroom desu-masu form to casual language you’d use around friends.

    Reading the room

    A good marker of whether it’s ok to use slang is if others around you are using it. Paying attention to everyone else’s speech patterns can help a lot when figuring out who wants to stay on polite terms and who’s happy to joke around with you. Just be careful, sometimes your teacher or boss will speak casually to you but still expect you to be polite back!

    The first time you meet someone, stick to polite desu-masu form and adjust based on how they and others around them respond. It’s always better to be too polite than to accidentally be rude. If you ignore how everyone else is acting and go off on your own, people will think you’re KY!

    What’s KY? Scroll down to our list of slang words to find out!

    Politeness registers

    You can think of Japanese as having four basic layers of politeness, with the super polite level being reserved for specific industries and situations. You start off on the polite level, move down to casual once you get to know someone and they indicate it’s ok, and then step into slang when you’re close and they start using it with you.

    Extra-Polite (keigo)
    customer service, extremely formal situations

    Polite (desu-masu)
    strangers, superiors, older people

    Casual (da-ru)
    coworkers, juniors, younger people

    Slang
    close friends

    Generally, you should use polite speech with strangers, people older than you, and people with more authority than you. People tend to slip into casual speech when talking to friends, children, and underlings. Some Japanese people will intentionally use formal speech with foreigners because they think it’s easier to understand. Others stick to casual with foreigners because they perceive that to be the norm in foreign cultures. Don’t take things personally or overthink their word choice, that leads to unnecessary stress. If you’re confused about how politeness levels are being used, try to observe how the Japanese people around you talk to other Japanese people.

    Japanese swear words

    In English, we have a set number of “swear” words that kids and news anchors aren’t allowed to say. Japanese has plenty of rude words, but whether they’re inappropriate or not depends a lot on context. A child could say a word and have it mean “idiot” while the same word from an adult could mean “dick”. Insulting your friend could be endearing depending on your relationship but insulting a stranger is sure to cause trouble. Make sure you experiment with these kinds of words among friends before you accidentally call your boss or potential friend something you’ll regret.

    Check out more insults in our Japanese slang used in manga & anime section or click here to scroll back to the table of contents.

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    Japanese Slang Words Based on Your Japanese Level

    We know it can be intimidating to learn new words, so try to find some you can pepper into the phrases you already know.

    Need help learning Japanese? Check out our ultimate guide to learning Japanese!

    Beginner Japanese slang words

    Here are some words you can use on their own. No need to worry about grammar or the rest of the sentence, just react to what’s going on!

    If you need help figuring out how to pronounce Japanese words, hop on over to our guide to Japanese speaking.

    やばい (yabai) can mean “good” or “bad” depending on the context. Think of it like the English phrase “no way”.

    “I just won the lottery!”
    Yabai!”

    “I just got fired!”
    Yabai!”

    ダサい (dasai) means “uncool”. It’s the sort of words teenagers call their parents when they try to show interest in a “young person” thing.

    「うちのパパ、マジでダサいんだねー」
    Uchi no papa, maji de dasain da ne
    My dad’s really not cool

    キモい (kimoi) is short for kimochi warui (gives a bad feeling). You say it when something feels totally gross. Want someone to go away and stop talking to you? Call them kimoi and they’ll be too ashamed to show their face again. For an even stronger word try kishoi (disgusting).

    「あいつ、マジキモいんだけど」
    Aitsu, maji kimoin da kedo
    That guy’s super gross

    ズルい (zurui) means “unfair”. Your friend got a good gacha draw and you didn’t? Zurui! You can also use it to describe someone who’s being tricky.

    ムカつく (mukatsuku) means “irritating” and comes from the onomatopoeia mukamuka (pissed off). You use it when something’s really gotten on your nerves. Let people know you’re annoyed!

    「全くムカつく」
    Mattaku mukatsuku
    I’m totally fed up

    イケメン (ikemen) comes from iketeru (cool) and men (face). It means a pretty boy, a guy with a nice face. 

    「いい性格よりイケメンが好き」
    Ii seikaku yori ikemen ga suki
    Rather than a good personality I like hot guys

    半端ない (hanpa nai) means “wild!” Just like in English, you can use this to describe something that’s really good or bad. Hanpa means "half" so hanpa nai is literally translated as "not half", like going all the way or not half bad.

    「この試合、半端ない」
    Kono shiai, hanpa nai
    This match is wild!

    「この試験の難易度は半端ない」
    Kono shiken no nan’ido wa hanpa nai
    The difficulty of this test is wild

    わりーね (warii ne) is a casual way to apologize. It comes from warui ne (bad) means “my bad”. There are other ways too depending on the image you want to give, like the cutesy gomen chai.

    Intermediate Japanese slang words

    ググる (guguru) means exactly what it sounds like. It’s the verb for googling! People sometimes say GGRKS online, which is a rude way of telling someone to google it.

    「それをググってみて」
    Sore wo gugutte mite
    Try to google that

    サラリーマン (sarariiman) and OL, short for office lady, are famous pseudo-English terms referring to white-collar businessmen and women. This is the type of person you know works behind a desk but you can’t remember where or what they’re doing specifically.

    微妙 (bimyō) describes something that’s just kind of “meh”. If you go to a movie with your friend and come out feeling that it wasn’t really good or bad, tell your friend it was bimyō.

    「昨日の出来事、ビミョーだった」
    Kinō no dekigoto, bimyō datta
    Yesterday’s event was fine, I guess

    おしゃれ (oshare) means “trendy”. Someone who’s up to date on fashion is oshare.

    仕方ない (shikata nai) literally means “there’s no way to do it” but is used as “it can’t be helped”. 

    Advanced Japanese slang words

    Experiment with dropping particles when you can get away with it. Keep the ones you need for meaning but get rid of all those wa’s and ga’s.

    KY・ケーワイ (keewai) is short for kūki yomenai (can’t read the mood). People who are KY will say insensitive things and interrupt your conversation to discuss something irrelevant.

    「田中さん、KYだよね」
    Tanaka-san, KY da yo ne
    Tanaka can’t read the mood at all, huh

    ~ちゃった (chatta) is used in place of shite shimatta to mean you totally did something.

    「宿題忘れちゃった」
    Shukudai wasurechatta
    I forgot my homework

    マンション (manshon) looks like the English word “mansion” but it actually means a condo! You have to be careful with words that seem like English at first glance. It’s easy to get caught off guard when someone says they have a manshon in Tokyo, but remember there’s not enough room for that!

    ウケる (ukeru) means “interesting”, although not always in a good way.

    「あの俳優ウケるんだけどー」
    Ano haiyū wa ukerun da kedo
    That actor is...interesting

    相変わらず (aikawarazu) means “same as always”. If someone says this when you ask them how they’re doing, they mean there’s nothing in particular going.

    Click here to scroll back to the table of contents.

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    Japanese Slang Words by Age

    Slang and casual speech can vary greatly depending on age group and setting. You can get away with mixing teen-speak into your conversation with a 25 year old, but probably not a 40 year old. Conversely, a 30 year old is more likely to understand older slang than a high school student.

    Japanese teen slang

    ドンマイ (donmai) comes from “don’t mind” and means you shouldn’t dwell on it. When you miss catching the baseball your friends will tell you to donmai.

    ぴえん (pien) is the sound of crying turned into a word. People often react with this word online.

    ウザい (uzai) is short for uzattai (annoying). You use it to describe things that are a pain. Your roommate reminds you to do the dishes? Uzai! For -i adjectives like this you’ll sometimes hear people change -i to -mi

    「あの人のしゃべり方がウザい」
    Ano hito no shaberikata ga uzai
    That person’s way of speaking is annoying

    (mitsu) means “too close”. It comes from the three mitsu you’re supposed to avoid - closed spaces, crowds, and close contact. It’s pretty rude to say to a stranger but you can tell your brother to give you some personal space with a mitsu da!

    陰キャ (inkya) and its counterpart yokya are similar to “introvert” and “extravert”.

    「陰キャだから、パーティー行きたくない」
    Inkya da kara, paatii ikitakunai
    I’m an introvert, so I don't want to go to the party

    Japanese slang for 20 to 30 year olds

    ダル (daru) or darui means “lazy”. Got homework? Housework? Too much to do but you just want to lie on the couch and watch a movie? You’re feeling darui.

    「仕事忙しくてダルい」
    Shigoto isogashikute darui
    I’m busy at work but I don’t want to do anything

    ゴロゴロ (gorogoro) is an onomatopoeia meaning “to laze around”. If you feel darui you want to gorogoro around.

    「ゴロゴロしたい!」
    Gorogoro shitai!
    I want to laze around and do nothing!

    ブラック企業 (burakku kigyō) means “black company” and refers to business with predatory or exploitative management styles. These kinds of companies never pay you overtime but work you to the bone.

    エモい (emoi) is another word for “cool”. It comes from “emotion” and has a bit of a nerdy connotation, but it’s not weird to hear. 

    それな (sore na) is similar to “I know, right?” You say it when your friend says something relatable.

    「佐藤さん、かわいいよね」
    「それな!」
    Satō-san, kawaii yo ne
    Sore na!
    Satō-san’s so cute
    I know, right?

    一杯どう? (ippai dō) means “want to grab a drink?” Ask your coworkers out so you can test out your mastery of casual language!

    調子どう? (chōshi dō) uses the same dō (how) and means “how are you”. Check in on your friends and see how they’re feeling.

    Japanese slang for 40 to 50 year olds

    グレる (gureru) is a verb that means “to go bad” with the usual connotations of a kid going bad being deliquency. If your coworker says their son is gureru it means he’s acting out.

    「ケンは大学を中退してグレちゃった」
    Ken wa daigaku wo chūtai shite gurechatta
    Ken left college and went bad

    ドロン (doron) means “to leave”. It describes someone trying to slip out unnoticed, usually from a social obligation. Trying to leave the drinking party before your boss notices you're not there?

    「パーティーをドロンした」
    Paattii wo doron shita
    I slipped out of the party

    激うま (geki uma) means “super delicious”. You can attach geki before adjectives to make them stronger, just like chō and meccha

    「このケーキ激ウマ」
    Kono keeki geki uma
    This cake is super yummy

    とりあえずビール (toriaezu biiru) means “I’ll have a beer for now” and is probably the most common thing people say when they go out.

    超絶 (chōzetsu) is another word like chō (very) that emphasizes what follows. This word is way stronger, though.

    「超絶高い」
    Chōzetsu takai
    It’s soooo expensive!

    Click here to scroll back to the table of contents.

    Japanese Slang Words by Region of Japan

    The Japanese you learn in schools is the standard dialect and most people speak that just fine, but using the local lingo shows people you care. Plus you’ll sound super cool while you’re doing it! Japanese has a whole lot of dialects, just like English, so we included a few of the biggest to get you started.

    Check out this map to see which Japanese dialects are spoken in which regions!

    Tokyo slang

    Most places in Tokyo use the same standard dialect you learn from textbooks, but there are some slang words that are more common in the biggest city on Earth than outside it.

    Japanese slang used in Tokyo

    チョー (chō) You’ll hear this word all the time now that you’re listening for it! It means “very” or “totally” and is used for emphasis.

    「友達の秋田犬はチョーかわいい」
    Tomodachi no akita ken wa chō kawaii
    My friend’s akita is so cute!

    マジで (maji de) means “really”. You say it when something’s hard to believe. You can also use uso (lie) or gachi de for this.

    “My boyfriend was cheating on me!”
    Maji de?”

    カッケー (kakkee) is short for kakko ii (cool). A lot of words get simplified like this, such as sugoi (awesome) turning to sugee. You’ll also hear this a lot in Kansai.

    「あのサッカー選手カッケー」
    Ano sakkaa senshu kakkee
    That soccer player is cool

    Osaka slang

    The dialect spoken in Osaka and Kyoto is called Kansai-ben and it’s the most commonly used dialect outside of standard Japanese. Plenty of comedians and television personalities speak in Kansai-ben and it shows up often in anime.

    Japanese slang used in Osaka

    何やこれ (nan ya kore) along with nande ya nen are phrases that appear often in media to signal a character is from the Kansai region. Respectively, they mean “what is this” and “what are you talking about”.

    めっちゃ (meccha) This is the first word people will tell you if you ask about Kansai-ben. It’s similar to chō and is used for emphasis.

    「先生の本はめっちゃ長い」
    Sensei no hon wa meccha nagai
    My teacher’s book is super long

    おもろい (omoroi) This is a shortening of omoshiroi (interesting) and means about the same thing. You’re an omoroi hito (interesting person) for looking up Japanese slang!

    ほんま (honma) The Kansai-ben version of hontō (really). When your friend says they saw a celebrity you respond, Honma?!”

    ちゃうで (chau de) This means “no” - and you really mean it! It’s a shortening of chigau (you’re wrong). When your friend says you suck at your favorite video game you reply, “Chau de!” Be careful, this is different from the -chau you can add on verbs to sound more casual.

    「ちゃう、ちゃう、ちゃう」
    Chau, chau, chau
    No, no, no

    おおきに (ookini) The Kansai way of saying “thanks”. Tell your friend you appreciate them saving your spot in line with an “ookini!”

    あかん (akan) Just like people say yabai (no good) in Tokyo, in Kansai they say akan when you’re doing something wrong. Your friend just put on a hat that looks like a pigeon head? Tell them “akan de!”

    If you’re really interested in learning Kansai-ben there are plenty of websites dedicated to learning to speak it, such as this one.

    Fukuoka slang

    The dialect spoken in Fukuoka City is called Hakata-ben, although everyone will know what you mean if you call it Fukuoka-ben.

    Japanese slang used in Fukuoka, Aichi

    しとう (shitou) is used instead of shite iru (doing). Ask your friend what’s up!

    「何しとうと」
    Nan shitou to
    What are you doing?

    そうやばい (sō yabai) This means “that’s right” and is similar to sō da yo in standard. Tell your friend you totally agree! Don’t confuse it with yabai (awesome/awful).

    行かん (ikan)  Your friend asks you if you’re going to the baseball game but you’re busy that night, so tell them “ikan” (I’m not going).

    安か (yasuka) means “cheap”. The i at the end of the adjective turns into a ka.

    「あの花屋さんは安か」
    Ano hanaya-san wa yasuka
    That flower shop is cheap

    せんと (sento) Your mom says she’s going to look up that word you said the other day? “Sento!”
    (don’t do that)!

    If you want to hear Hakata-ben spoken out loud, check out this video!

    Aichi slang

    Aichi prefecture uses Nagoya-ben, named after the city! Nagoya-ben often lengthens vowels like changing the “ei” sound to “ee”.

    もんで (monde) means “because”. Compare the following sentence to the standard Japanese samui kara ikanakutemo ii and you’ll see how different it is!

    「寒いもんで行かんでもええ 」
    Samui monde ikandemo ee
    It’s cold, so you don’t have to come

    ちょう (chō) replaces kudasai as “please”, different from the chō meaning “very”. Make sure you’re letting your friends know you appreciate them!

    「明日来てちょう」
    Ashita kite chō
    Please come tomorrow

    高なった (taka natta) You were looking for a certain trading card online, but it sure “became expensive!” Normally you’d say takaku natta but they drop the ku.

    Click here to scroll back to the table of contents.

    Japanese Slang for Popular Restaurants

    Ever notice how companies take extra care to localize their products? A lot of popular restaurants have nicknames in Japan that Japanese people will be confused you don’t already know!

    Baskin’ Robbins, the ice cream store, is called 31 in Japan! If you look closely at their logo you can see why. The BR has the number 31 hidden in it! This is related to how they always have 31 flavors of ice cream. There are some regional ice cream flavors too, so try them if you see them!

    Family Mart konbini (convenience stores) can be found on almost every block, but their name is too long so everyone says ファミマ (famima) instead.

    Wendy’s First Kitchen is a common chain in Japan. They’re colloquially known as ファッキン (fakkin) but the company never uses the nickname in advertising since it sounds like the English word “fu**ing”. 

    McDonald’s has a pretty long name if you try to sound out the katakana, so people call it マック (makku) or マクド (makudo) instead. It’s kind of like how some English speakers call it “Mickey D’s”.

    Another burger chain, MOS Burger, is also shortened to モス (mosu).

    7-Eleven is a common convenience store in the US, but did you know it’s also a bank in Japan? It often gets shortened to セブン (sebun).

    Starbucks is kind of long if you try to sound it out in katakana. Use スタバ (sutaba) instead! It sounds kind of like “star bar” which is a pretty cool nickname in our books

    Craving donuts? Mister Donut, which has since merged with Dunkin’ Donuts in the US, is still prevalent in Japan. It’s referred to casually as ミスド (misudo).

    KFC is popular in Japan, so of course it has a nickname too - ケンタ (kenta), short for Kentucky!

    The Italian family restaurant Saizeriya is a great place to catch a bite to eat. It’s nickname is サイゼ (saize) which to be honest, sounds pretty cool.

    Click here to scroll back to the table of contents.

    Japanese slang used on the internet

    Japanese Internet Slang

    You can run into all sorts of people online, whether you’re on a forum chatting about your day or playing a competitive video game. The kinds of text shortcuts we use in English (lol, ty, cya) are just as common in Japanese! That means you can look at a text message and understand none of it, even if you’ve memorized your textbook. There are a million terms people use online nowadays, but here are a few to get you started and feeling like a digital native.

    呼びタメ (yobitame) means this person is happy to speak casually to anyone! Look for Twitter bios with this word for people to practice your new vocabulary with!

    誰得 (daretoku) means “who benefits from this” and is used to disbelievingly question why someone would do something, like why someone tried all the worst food on the menu on purpose.

    おk (ok) There are a lot of Japanese slang words that developed as keyboard shortcuts, just like in English! こn (kon) is short for konnichiwa (hello), んp (np) means exactly what it does in English (no problem), and うp (up) stands for “upload”.

    WWWW, or to be honest any amount of Ws, stands for warau (laugh) and is basically the Japanese version of “lol”. The difference being, no one tries to say this out loud. You’ll also see 爆笑 (burst of laughter), 笑 (warai) alone, or even 草 (grass) since a field of Ws looks like grass. 泣 is the kanji for crying and similarly is used as a crying emote.

    なう・うぃる・わず (nau/wiru/wazu) are used like the English words “now”, “will”, and “was” to add onto a verb. You’ll see phrases like shōkai nau (now introducing), raamen wiru (I’ll go eat ramen), and karaoke wazu (I was going to karaoke) a lot on Twitter.

    乙 (otsu) is short for otsukaresama deshita (thanks for the hard work). This kanji shares the reading otsu but actually means “duplicate”. Your friends will say otsu to you after you read this article for them and give them the highlights.

    もっさり (mossari) is, like many Japanese words, an onomatopoeia (word developed from sound). It describes something working slowly, like your laptop trying to play a high-res game or your internet connection making your voice chat irregular.

    「ネットもっさりしてる」
    Netto mossari shiteru
    My internet is being slow

    comes from the Japanese word sankakkee (triangle) and kakkee (cool), a shortened form of kakko ii. When you see someone’s name followed by a triangle, that means that person’s cool.

    yr is short for yoroshiku and means “please”. You type this in the chat when you’re playing a game and your buddy asks if you need healing.

    KWSK stands for kuwashiku and means “tell me in more detail please!” A post crosses your feed about a new restaurant in your area? KWSK!

    WKTK is another onomatopoeia and stands for wakuwaku tekateka (very excited). It’s the feeling of giddy anticipation that has you jumping up and down when you receive a package you’ve been waiting for all month.

    ファボる (faboru) means “to favorite” or “like” on social media, especially Twitter.

    リア充 (riajū) refers to people who live in real life. It’s similar to calling people who don’t play video games “normies”.

    「このリア充め!」
    Kono riajū me!
    You normie!

    Japanese slang used on the internet while playing online games

    Number shortcuts

    Japanese has a lot of wordplay that can be difficult to parse! Some internet slang just looks like a stream of numbers but is readable to a Japanese person as a coherent thought. People might turn names or words into numbers as shorthand or match phone numbers to a saying for marketing. Here’s a list of sounds that can turn into numbers:

    0 re(i), ma(ru), nashi, o, ze(ro)
    1 i(chi), hi(to), bi, kazu, wan
    2 ni, fu(ta), bu, tsū 
    3 sa(n), mi, sō, zō, su(rii)
    4 shi, yo(n), fō
    5 go, ko, i(tsu), fa(ibu)
    6 ro(ku), mu, shikkusu
    7 shichi, na(na), se(bun)
    8 ha(chi), ba, ya, eito
    9 kyū, ku, ko(kono), nai(n)
    10 jū, ji, to, te(n)

    555 (gogogo) means “go go go”, just like it sounds. When you’re playing a game and the timer starts, tell your team to go go go!

    888 (papapa) stands for the sound you make when clapping! Just like in the US people spam the clap emoji, in Japan people spam the number 8.

    「勝ったよ! 88888」
    Katta yo! 88888
    We won! [clap clap clap]

    39 (sankyū) comes from the English “thank you”. Your friend helped you figure your new computer out? Sankyū!

    1+1= (ichi tasu ichi wa) ni (two) of course! Saying ni makes you smile so people will say this before taking a picture, like “say cheese!”

    You’ll see a lot of number symbolism in anime too, once you start looking. In the manga and anime Hikaru no Go, the main character Hikaru wears shirts with the number five as a pun on him playing the game of go. If you play around a little, you can make your own! Here are a few examples:

    Hana -> 87
    Naoto -> 7010
    Hiro -> 16
    Natsumi -> 723

    Click here to scroll back to the table of contents.

    Japanese Slang Used in Manga & Anime

    Manga and anime use a lot of yakuwarigo that isn’t used in real life, so it’s good to know what you can imitate in casual conversation and what’s probably just a screenplay thing. In general, a lot of the insults and verbal tics that convey a character’s personality are just that, tools and not real speech. 

    わし (washi) is one of many ways to refer to yourself in Japanese, but it’s one that’s mostly found in anime. You’ll often find old men (or characters who are acting a part) using this. 

    「わしは知っておるのじゃ」
    Washi wa shitte oru no ja
    I know!
    (compare: watashi wa shitte iru)

    ~でござる (de gozaru) is a speech pattern indicating excess formality. When you hear a character in an anime ending their sentences with this, they’re usually a samurai.

    「こちらでござる」
    Kochira de gozaru
    Over here
    (compare: kochira desu)

    おっす (ossu) is a greeting/response you hear often in sports anime. People definitely say it in real life, but it’s waning in popularity. It’s a greeting between guys and is short for ohayō gozaimasu (good morning) by taking out everything in between.

    壁ドン (kabedon) is when you corner someone against a wall. It shows up a lot in romantic stories but at this point it’s become a meme itself.

    a38.jpg

    Insults

    You probably aren’t going to get a good chance to say these yourself, but you can appreciate them in anime! 

    ばか (baka) is definitely one of the top five Japanese words everyone knows. Translated as “idiot” or “fool”, a baka is annoying and not especially smart.

    あほ (aho) is the counterpart of baka. In the East it’s harsher and in the West baka is harsher, but they have generally the same meaning. 

    お前 (omae) is a rude way of addressing someone. While people do use it in real life, it’s more common in anime populated by tough guys and crude speakers. You’ve probably heard it in action shows or seen it on the internet in memes. You can add -ra to make it plural.

    「お前はもう死んでいる!!」
    Omae wa mō shinde iru!!
    You’re already dead!!

    「お前ら、わかるかな」
    Omaera, wakaru kana
    I wonder if you guys get it

    われ (ware) is a Kansai-ben way to call someone an asshole and is similar is use to omae.

    きさま (kisama) is an extremely rude way to say “you”, even more so than omae. Outside of anime, where people don’t tend to have mortal enemies, you won’t really hear this.

    「貴様、絶対に許さない」
    Kisama, zettai ni yurusanai
    I’ll never forgive you

    奴 (yatsu) is a rude way of referring to someone. Similar to yarō, tough guys may refer to each other casually with it but in general it’s an insult.

    「奴は猫大好き」
    Yatsu wa neko daisuki
    That guy loves cats

    アマ (ama) is often translated as “b*tch”. It’s an insult often hurled at women.

    くそ (kuso) is translated as “shit” or “crap” depending on the audience. You can say it alone or tag it onto a word as an adjective. You’ll also hear kusottare, which is a stronger version.

    「クソガキ!」
    Kuso gaki!
    Shitty brat!

    悪ガキ (warugaki) combines waru (bad) and gaki (kid) to mean “little brat”. 

    ちくしょ (chikusho) is a little worse than kuso and is usually said on its own. It means something like “Shit!” or “F*ck!” It’s the kind of word you yell out loud when you stub your toe particularly hard.

    ぶす (busu) means “ugly”. Lots of high-spirited anime characters show off how arrogant they are by throwing this word around. It’s mostly used to refer to women.

    「ブスが多い」
    Busu ga ooi
    There are a lot of ugly people

    最低 (saitei) means “absolute worst”. 

    「あの先生の授業、最低だろう」
    Ano sensei no jugyō, saitei darō
    That teacher’s classes are the worst, aren’t they

    カス (kasu) means “trash”. Anime characters like to tell people they’re not worth their time.

    死ね!! (shine) is a classic. It’s telling someone to “go die!” There’s essentially no way to interpret this as anything but an insult.

    ~め (me) You can generally make any insult a bit more cutting by shoving it between kono and me.

    「この変態め!
    Kono hentai me!
    This pervert!

    Click here to scroll back to the table of contents.

    Improving your Japanese slang

    There are lots of ways to improve, but it’s hard to find good resources when slang is constantly evolving. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Aside from this article, we’ve compiled a few tips for making sure your Japanese doesn’t get outdated.

    Japanese slang used by friends

    Watch Japanese shows

    Many industries and subcultures have their own ways of speaking. Try finding some movies or shows that take place in the kind of environment you want to be in. Just be careful you don’t pick up some yakuwarigo - “role” language used to indicate things about characters, but not used by real-life people. Just imagine if someone tried to talk to you using words they learned from a Shakespeare play! YouTube videos are another great way to stay current. Here’s a fun one we found that lists eight popular slang words!

    Japanese slang used by friends at dinner

    Make friends

    What’s the point of learning Japanese slang words if you have no one to talk with? Find a friend to chat with and ask them to teach you some slang words, or just listen to their speech patterns and see what you can pick up. Reinforce what you’ve learned by repeating it back to them and they’ll be impressed! If you’re having trouble getting people to open up to you, make the situation more casual by taking them out to drink. People become less reserved when the environment is less formal.

    Need more specifics? Check out our article on making Japanese friends!

    Don't be afraid to ask

    Have no idea what your coworker just said? Not sure if it’s ok to speak casually with a new friend? If in doubt, just ask them. It can be hard to work up the courage to admit what feels like a weakness when you don’t want to look stupid, but asking shows you’ve been paying attention and will help you grow by leaps and bounds.

    Here is a Japanese slang resource for more advanced students who don’t mind reading Japanese definitions. Even Japanese people get confused by trendy new slang!

    Final Remarks

    Slang is, by definition, constantly changing. To really get a hang of it nothing can replace practicing with a partner. Whether you want to learn internet slang words to understand the chats you’re in or spoken slang words to chat to your friends, find someone you can talk to on a regular basis! If you’re in an open environment words will naturally flow in and you’ll find your speech adapting with everybody else’s.

    Want to see how well you know Japanese slang? Take our fun Japanese slang quiz and make sure to check out the rest of our articles on learning Japanese!

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