Japanese Slang: Bibiru (びびる)… Were you Surprised, Scared or Shocked?

Who doesn’t like to learn more about slangs? We believe that when you are learning a foreign language, studying slang is a nice and fun way to widen your vocabulary. Not only will you speak more fluently but you will sound more like a native speaker. Bibiru is a funny word to pronounce, and an interesting point of view on Japanese society!

Expressing yourself when you’re Nervous/Surprised/Frightened
Use during Conversations
When to use it?

Expressing yourself when you’re Nervous/Surprised/Frightened

People who love the Japanese Culture would know this very well, that Japanese people like the thrill of a scary story. A quick dive in Japanese culture and you will notice all the stories about mystical creatures, ghost, demons, and all the kami – gods. Japanese people love the thrill of a haunted hospital or even a haunted school and since they’d love to test their bravery in general! Well, in Japanese there is a slang word perfect to express your self-consciousness and that you feel “nervous”, “surprised”, “frightened” and that is: bibiru! This little word also means “to get cold feet” , “to be on edge”.

Rei: Bikkuri shita yo! Mata bibitteiru!
Example: “I was  surprised! I am still shaking / frightened”.


Use during Conversations

But on does not need the scariest urban legends and their monsters to experience stress and fear! The perspective of a presentation during a meeting is a perspective scary enough for many of us:


Senpai shain ni hanasu toki:
Ashita jyuyou na kaigi de happyou surukara, chotto bibitte masu.

Speaking to a Senior Employee…

A: I’m a bit nervous because I have a presentation during an important meeting tomorrow.

Unfortunately, Nature is also a reminder of how small and fragile we are in front of natural disaster. Japan is quite affected by natural disasters, earthquakes, tsunami and hurricane… and that is scary as hell!


Tomodachi doushi no kaiwa:
A:Kinou no jishin ohkikatta yone.
B:Un, chotto bibitta.

In a Conversation between Friends
A: Yesterday’s earthquake was big, don’t you think?
B: Yeah, I was a bit scared.

Finally, other people can also be a source of fear, let’s not forget that!

Rei: Resutoran ni yakuza ga haitte kita toki wa bibitte shimatta.
Example: When a yakuza entered the restaurant I got nervous.

When to use it?

Of course, bibiru being a casual word, Japanese people will us it more likely during conversation with their friends, close ones and family. It is also important to note that Japanese is a gendered language and “bibiru” will sounds unrefined when used by a woman. Instead, it would be better to say “I am feeling anxious”, “I was startled” (“bikkuri shimashita”) or “I felt flustered” (“bikubikushita”).


Senpai shain ni hanasu toki:
Ashita jyuyou na kaigi de happyou surukara, chotto fuan desu.

When speaking with a senior employee:
A: I’m feeling anxious because I have a presentation during an important meeting tomorrow.

Rei: Kanojo wa kubi ni naru kamoshiremasen to bikubiku shiteiru.
Example: She is fearful of being fired.

Now you are able to express casually your fear in Japanese! Perfect time to experience the haunted attraction of Fuji-Q Highland (Fuji region).

Click this link and learn more about the Japanese slang: damemoto!

Credit (Public Domain): shu kana
Title: お化け屋敷
source: Flickr

Coto Japanese Academy is a unique Japanese Language School in Iidabashi Tokyo, we offer relaxed and fun conversational lessons for all levels of Japanese learner. Coto Japanese Academy prides itself on its community atmosphere and fun lessons that focus on creation of opportunities to speak and learn Japanese. If you are interested in studying Japanese in Tokyo – please visit our contact page here.


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