Japanese Swear Words: Useful but careful when using them

Japanese swear words are those, while you don’t use that much, super fun to know; especially if you’ve got a good basis of Japanese under your belt, but you need to know them to avoid them, too.

Profanity is always frowned upon in most cultures, and Japanese people are known to be one of the most polite and respectful societies. That is to say, the things you learn in anime might not be best practiced in real life. You don’t want to go around the streets in Tokyo saying, “ばか (baka)!”.

It’s rare for strangers to use Japanese swear words or slang casually. In fact, even if you’re friends with a Japanese person, you still need to be cautious about throwing a swear word, even if it’s mild.

That is to say, don’t really swear in public, or in general. Still, these are fun Japanese swear words to know, and we can’t blame you for wanting to learn. And it’s not like you can never say these. Around your friends, go for it, but with someone you don’t really know, maybe watch your tongue.

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1. 馬鹿 (Baka): Stupid

The Japanese word baka (ばか) basically means “fool” or”idiot”. Depending on the nuance, context, and tone of the speaker it can range from a playful “you dummy” to an offensive insult heaped upon a man and his household.  

The kanji is 馬鹿. 馬 meaning “horse” (uma), and 鹿 which means “deer” (shika). The Japanese swear word is sometimes written in katakana: バカ.

Omae wa baka na no?
Are you stupid?

2. アホ (Aho): Stupid

Aho means idiot or stupid. If you watch a lot of anime, you probably know another way to call someone an idiot, 馬鹿 (Baka), so what’s the difference between both? While the two share the same meaning, アホ is used more in the Kansai region, while 馬鹿 is used more in the Kanto region. Funnily enough, this results in either being more offensive in the region they’re used less.

You can think of them almost like opposites: in Kansai, “Aho” is used frequently, and can be lighthearted or insulting, while “Baka” is thought to be a bit harsher.

Meanwhile in Kanto, “Baka” is used more often and is more nuanced in its usage, but “Aho” is a bit stronger and not so frequently used.

3. ブス (Busu): Ugly Woman

Busu is an extremely ugly woman, and it is used specifically for women to insult their physical appearance. It’s not the kind of word you should be using to a stranger — unless you want to crush their entire self-esteem.

It’s a very demeaning term, so even if your intention is just to joke around, consider how people might feel about it.

The male version of ブス (Busu) is ブ男 (Buotoko). Now, when someone mutters “busu” or “buotoko” under their breath, you’ll know the meaning and possibly how to react.

4. 畜生 (Chikusho): Damn It!

Chikusho (ちくしょう) is an exclamation usually used out of frustration. It can be taken as “Damn!” or “Damn it!”. Sometimes, the translation goes, “for Christ’s sake!” It also has meaning outside of as an exclamation, that being “Beast” or “Brute”.

You don’t direct this Japanese swear word to someone. Rather, you use it when you’re faced with an unfortunate event or anything remotely inconvenient.

Chikushou, panku da!
Damn it! I’ve got a flat (tire)!

5. 黙れ (Damare): Shut up!

Like the phrase うるさい (Urusai), damare is used to say “Shut up!” The word is stemmed from the Japanese verb 黙る (damaru), which means “to be quiet”. However, this is the Japanese command form, used to express strong orders or demands.

Unlike using ください (kudasai) or お願いします (onegaishimasu), which is closer to a request or soft demand, this command form is not exactly super polite to use.

This Japanese swear word is often interchangeable with うるさい (urusai), but they mean two different things — with the same implication. うるさい is a Japanese adjective that means “noisy”.

If you hear someone says this, it’s more to passively shut someone up: “You’re noisy! (So shut up)!” They will typically take as a sign to tone it down.

だまれ, on the other hand, is much more of a command, ergo it is much more impolite to use.

6. どけ (Doke): Get out of my way!

Similar to だまれ, どけ (doke) is a Japanese command form from the verb どく, which means to step aside or move out of the way. When you’re pissed off and have to make the people move out of your path, you might lash out and say, “Get out of my way!”

It’s an extremely rude way of ‘asking’ someone to make way for you, and you shouldn’t use it in normal circumstances — like when you’re trying to get out from a packed train car.

7. ふざけるな (Fuzakeru na): Don’t Mess With Me!

Any Japanese verb with a “na” な on the end is usually taken as an aggressive negative command of “don’t”.

ふざけるな comes from the phrase ふざける (fuzakeru), meaning to mess around. When used with な, it becomes a negative command, basically telling someone to stop messing around. It has since been translated to mean either “Stop messing around/with me”, or the more direct “Screw off”. The more casual version of this is the shortened ふざけんあ (Fuzakenna).

8. うざい (Uzai): Annoying!

The word うざい, stylized as ウザイ (uzai), is short for うるさい (urusai), which means “noisy”, and うざったい, which means “annoying”. If you’re the type who gets annoyed at the slight public disturbance, you can use this for a not-so-subtle diss.

Think of this word as the English equivalent of saying that someone is being a pain in the ass.

If you want to stress the swear word more, you can end the word ウザイ (uzai) with a long ‘e’: ウゼェー (uzee)!

Tanaka-sensei ga uzakunai?
Isn’t Tanaka-sensei a pain in the ass?

9. クソ (Kuso): Shit!

Kuso means “Poo”. Much like chikushou, it is used as an exclamation out of anger. While it can be used on its own, it also sees a lot of use with other words. In these cases, it is used as an adjective. For example クソガキ (kusogaki), meaning “Shitty brat”.

10. お前 (Omae): You

This is both very rude ways of saying “you” in Japanese. In anime, particularly shounen genre, you may hear male characters use this second-person pronoun. It’s often translated as “bastard”, but in real life, most people wouldn’t really say it.

This is much like another word not on this list 貴様 (きさま), another rude way of saying “You”, which is commonly used in anime but never in real life.

Omae can be considered a rude way to refer to someone. It used to be considered honorific, but that was a long time ago. Of course, real life is not like anime, so try not to use it with just anyone.

Omae ga iu na.
Look who’s talking.

11. 手前 (てめえ/Temee): You (Bastard)

Not necessarily a Japanese swear word, but it is a very rude word that is hardly used by anyone in real life, though it can be commonly found in Japanese media like manga and anime.

Fictional characters use it to address others when they are angry as it is considered less rude compared to real life.  

12. 死ねえ (Shinee): Go Die!

Another swear word very popular in anime, しねえ means ”Die!” or “Go die!” Can’t get much worse than that. Of course, because it’s so commonly used it’s kind of lost its severity, making it a fun word to throw around among friends.

Again though, make sure not to use it against anyone you don’t know too well.

13. やろう (Yarou)

Yarou technically just means ”Guy” (gender). It’s commonly used towards men and used as a way to refer to someone.

As a Japanese swear word, it usually doesn’t stand alone. Rather, you’ll pair it with other words like baka or kuso. ばかやろう(baka yarou). You should not use やろう (yarou) to address women as the usage would be wrong.

Damare konoyarou
Shut up you bastard!

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