How to use the Japanese word “かっこいい (Kakkoii)”
What’s かっこいい (Kakkoii)?
Ever walked across the street and noticed a person or thing that almost made you turn head over heels? In English, you’d say “Oh my God, that’s so cool!”. But how about in Japanese? What would YOU say? Well, today we shall cover just that through using the Japanese word かっこいい (Kakkoii)!
The word in itself is comprised of 2 parts:
1. 格好（かっこう）- Read as Kakkou
2. いい – Read as Ii
The former refers to the “Appearance” of someone or something whereas the latter is an adjective used to describe something as “Good”. When put together, these 2 words form Kakkoii, of which would be used to describe someone or something as “Good Looking” or “Cool”. Do note that this is mostly used to describe something or someone with a known physical presence rather than a situation. 😇
For example, you’d go like “That Guy/Car over there is Kakkoii” but not “You’re up for Karaoke later? Kakkoii”. We’ll touch more on this in a later section.
Calling someone… Ugly/Uncool?
So… What would be the antonym for the word かっこいい (Kakkoii) then?
Well, it can be either of the following 2:
1. かっこよくない – Read as Kakkoyokunai
2. かっこ悪い（かっこわるい）- Read as Kakkowarui
As mentioned earlier, the word かっこいい (Kakkoii) itself is a combination of two words, namely “Kakkou” and “Ii”. Therefore, to express the opposite of Kakkoii, we would have to conjugate the word “Ii” into “Yokunai”. Thereby, leaving us with Kakkoyokunai which basically means “Not Handsome/Cool”.
If you’d like to sound more crude and brutal, then the latter would be your best bet. “Warui” is often used to describe something as bad or distasteful. By putting it together with “Kakko”, we’d get the word “Kakkowarui” which is used to describe someone’s appearance as ugly.😈
After all that babbling on the meaning of the Kakkoii and its Antonyms, let’s now take a look at how to go about using the word itself in a conversational context. Below are a few scenarios in which the word “Kakkoii” would be deemed appropriate for use:
1. When you see Someone/Something which sparks your interest.
Romaji: Ano hito/Ano kuruma、Kakkoii ne!
English: That person/that car over there looks cool, doesn’t it!
2. When you’d like to bring the attention of others to something you own.
Romaji: Nee, Watashi no Kuruma, Kakkoii desho?
English: Hey, do you think my car looks cool?
3. When you’d like to describe the appearance of something in general.
Romaji: Oh, sono suutsu kakkoii ne!
English: What’s up with you and that cool suit?
When NOT to use かっこいい (Kakkoii)
As we know, かっこいい (Kakkoii) is mostly used to describe something or someone with a known physical presence rather than a situation.
Therefore, the following scenario is in which when the use of かっこいい (Kakkoii) would be deemed INAPPROPRIATE:
Person A: 後でカラオケはどう？
Person B: いいよ！
Person A: かっこいい！
Person A: Ato de Karaoke wa dou?
Person B: Ii yo!
Person A: Kakkoii!
Person A: How about Karaoke after this?
Person B: Sure!
Person A: Handsome/Cool!
Note: In this case, we would instead reply with a “いいね！” as opposed to a “かっこいい！” if we’d like to say something along the lines of “Cool!”.
In an English Conversation, using the word “Cool” may seem very common to express your satisfaction with a situation. But remember, かっこいい (Kakkoii) is used to describe the Physical Appearance of something and not a Situation. With these in mind, we hope you have a better understanding of the word and can start moving towards mastering your Japanese Language!💪