Japanese Slang: ダメもと (Damemoto)

What’s ダメもと (Damemoto)?
Conversational Uses…

When you are learning a foreign language, studying slangs 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. Moreover, slang gives you an interesting point of view on society. Let’s learn more about the expression “damemoto”.


What’s ダメもと (Damemoto)?

In life, no matter what you choose to do, you will not make things worse for yourself or create a situation that you are at a disadvantage. Let’s simplify things with a perfect example: a job offer. You read an interesting job offer online and you would like to apply, but you are not sure if your profile matches the job requirements. Well, why don’t you apply and see what happened next? Because…

You’ve got nothing to lose!

The Japanese slang has a perfect expression for that concept and it is easy to remember: “damemoto de __ suru”. You will say “damemoto” whenever you think something probably can’t be done, but there is nothing to lose if you go for it. It expresses the act of doing something with little expectation.

“Damemoto” is a contraction of “dame de moto moto.” Where “ダメ (Dame)” originally meant no good, hopeless or can even be used to disallow something from happening. 元々 (もともと/Moto Moto), on the other hand, refers to “from the start” so there’s nothing that’s hopeless nor bad from the start! 

“Dame de moto moto” can sometimes also be used instead of “damemoto”. You can translate it in many ways: there is nothing to lose, might as well give it a go or there is no reason not to try.

Conversational Uses…

First, let’s see the slang “damemoto” used in a conversation between colleagues:
In romaji:
A: Kotoshi no natsu ni, dekireba isshuukan yasumi wo totte kaigairyokou wo shitai nda kedo, buchō ga nan teyuuka shinpai…
B: Iitte iu kamo shirenaidesho. Dame moto de kiite mi na yo.
Let’s read the English translation:
A: I want to see if I can take a week off this summer to travel abroad but I’m not really sure what to say to my boss…
B: He might say yes. Just ask, you’ve got nothing to lose.
And now, let’s read a conversation between friends:
A: 2クラスで転送女の子はすごく可愛いよな。
B: 話しかけてみれば?
A: う~ん、そういうの苦手なんだよね。
B: ダメもとでさ! 行ってみろよ!
A: わかったよ。えぇい、ダメもとだ!
In romaji:
A: Kurasu de tensou on’nanoko wa sugoku kawaii yo na.
B: Hanashikakete mireba?
A: Un, souiu no nigatena nda yo ne.
B: Dame motode sa! Itte miro yo!
A: Wakatta yo. Eei, dame motoda!
Let’s read the English translation:
A: The transferred girl in 2-class is very cute.
B: Go and talk to her, then.
A: Well, I’m no good at chatting girls up.
B: What’s to lose? Go, man! Go!
A: All right ! Might as well give it a go!

Damemoto is a very useful expression, however, as you have all understood by now, you can only use it in casual context with colleagues you know well or your friends! And remember… Whether you wonder if you can ask a girl out on a date or if you can make a reservation at a popular restaurant, you have nothing to lose trying!

Damemoto da! ダメもとだ!

Click this link to read about Japanese slang: mattari (suru) まったり(する)

Credit CC BY 2.0: Tomoyuki Kawashima
Title: bud

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