25 Japanese Slang to Learn by 2022

Last Updated on 06.01.2022 by Coto Japanese Language School

Japanese slang words are often made by a combination of Japanese and English. Knowing the slang of a particular country can make conversations feel more friendly and informal. In Japan, slang should only be said to close friends and relatives as they can be considered rude if you say it to someone in a higher position than you.

New abbreviations and phrases are constantly being coined and created every day and as the New Year is approaching, here are some of the must-know Japanese slang to get you one step closer to sounding — and feeling — like a native.

1. 若者言葉 (Wakamono Kotoba) – Used by Young People

若者言葉 (Wakamono Kotoba) is a Japanese slang that is mainly said by — you guessed it — young people. The literal translation? Words of the young people. Here are the more common wakamono kotoba that are short forms of Japanese words and phrases.

っす(っす)

っす(ssu) is the short form of the copula”です” in oral Japanese and is usually used by young men. “っす” is not considered as a form of polite speech hence it can sound rude to certain people.

Some examples of how to use “っす”

Your senpai: “このあとゲーセンに行こう。”
Konoato ge-senni ikou。
Let’s go to the game center later

You: おお、いいっすね!
Ooh, iissune!
Sounds great!

アザッス / オザマス / オナシャス

These short forms first started as text messages but slowly grow to be said in-person to close friends and relatives. These are not said to strangers or people superior to them because they can be considered rude and offensive. Pro tip: think the longer the sentence is, the more polite it sounds.

アザッス(Azassu) is the short form for ありがとうございます(arigatougozaimasu).
オナシャス(Onashasu) is the short form for お願いします(onegaishimasu).
オザマス(Ozamasu) is the short form forおはようございます(ohayougozaimasu).

2. びびる (Bibiru) – Surprised, Scared or Shocked?

びびる (Bibiru) is a slang word perfect to express feelings of “nervous”, “surprised”, “frightened”. In English, this can mean either “to get cold feet” or “to be on edge”. びびる (Bibiru) is more often used in conversation with friends, close ones and family as it is considered a casual word.

Example:

びっくりしたよ!またびびっている!
Bikkuri shita yo! Mata bibitteiru! Meaning: “I was surprised! I am still shaking/frightened”.

3. マザコン (mazakon) – Mummy’s Boy

マザコン (mazakon) is a term directly translated from “マザーコンプレックス” (mazaa konpurekkusu) in Japanese katakana. The slang mazakon has for meaning an “inferiority complex”, in which “complex” can be easily replaced by “dependance” or “attachment”. In other words, this means that a person has a deep attachment to his mother that continues all the way into adulthood.

How can マザコン (mazakon) be used in a conversation? (About Husbands)

女性の友達同士の会話
Josei no tomodachi doushi no kaiwa

A:うちの旦那、いつも自分の母親の味方ばっかりなの。
Uchino danna, itsumo jibun no hahaoya no mikata bakkari nano.
My husband always takes his mother’s side in everything.

頑張ってご飯を作ってあげても、いつも「お母さんが作った方がおいしい」って
Gambatte gohan o tsukutte agetemo, itsumo “okaasan ga tsukutta houga oishitte.
Even though I try hard to cook food for him, he always says that his mother’s cooking tastes better.

もう完全にマザコンだよ!
Mou kanzen ni mazakon dayo!
He has a total mazakon!

4. Moto Kare (元カレ) and Moto Kano (元カノ)

Moto Kare (元カレ) and Moto Kano (元カノ) is a Japanese slang to describe a past relationship. 元 (Moto) is referred to like the term “previous” hence, this slang is translated from the word for girlfriend “kanojo” and the word for boyfriend “kareshi” which are shortened to “kano” and “kare”.

Moto Kare (元カレ) : Ex-boyfriend Moto Kano (元カノ) : Ex-girlfriend

Japanese Example 1 A:別れてから半年がたつのに、まだ元カノのことが忘れられない。 A:Wakaretekara hantoshi ga tatsu no ni, mada moto kano no koto ga wasurerarenai.
B:辛いお気持ちだ。忘れられない気持ちがすごく分かる・・・
B:Tsurai o kimochida. Wasurerarenai kimochi ga sugoku wakaru…

English Translation A: We split up 6 months ago, but I can’t get over my ex-girlfriend.
B: It is a painful feeling. I really understand that you feel like you cannot forget…

5. ため/タメ (tame)

ため/タメ (tame) is often casually used by young Japanese address someone of the same age. Japanese people pay very close attention to the social position of others before addressing them carefully and do so from a very young age. For example at school or at the office, younger or inexperienced Japanese will be called “kouhai” (後輩、こうはい) while the older or experienced one will be called “senpai” (先輩、せんぱい).

The term “tame” was first used as a gambling word prior to the Showa Era and it referred to two dices showing the same number. From the Showa Era, the meaning of tame changed to mean “equal”.

Japanese Example 飲み会で
A: Bさんっていくつ?
B: 25だけど。
A: じゃ、私とためじゃないですか!私も25です~。

In romaji: Rei: Nomi-kai de
A: B-san’tte ikutsu?
B: Nijyu-go dakedo.
A: Jaa, watashito tame janaidesuka!  Watashi mo nijyu-go desu.

English Translation: Example: At a drinking party
A: B-san, how old are you?
B: I am 25.
A: That is the same age as me! I am also 25!

6. ダメもと (Damemoto)

ダメもと (Damemoto) is a Japanese slang for there is nothing to lose so you might as well give it a go. In other words, It expresses an act of doing something with little expectation.

How is “damemoto” used in a conversation between colleagues: A:今年の夏に、できれば一週間休みを取って海外旅行をしたいんだけど、部長が何て言うか心配…。
B:いいって言うかもしれないでしょ。ダメもとで聞いてみなよ。

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

7. ガチ (Gachi)

Have you ever seen a sumo match where the rikishi (sumo wrestlers) rushes into the fight? The fight is usually over seconds but not without a noise! The Japanese onomatopoeia for that noise can be described as “gatsun” (“crash”, “thump”).

It is said that “gatsun” is the etymology for the word “gachinko” which meant “A heated battle”. However, from 2000s, young Japanese people started to use “gachi” and “gachide” in conversation. This referred to terms like “super” and “serious”. ガチ Gachi is the short form of gachinko and is used as a prefix, often with the particle 「で」”de”. The term Gachi refers to reinforcing your opinion of something or to highlight a critical situation.

Japanese Example Sentences

例:「このお笑いコンビ、ガチで面白い!」
Rei: Kono owarai konbi, gachi de omoshiroi!
Example: This comedy duo is super fun!

例:「○○大学の学食のカツカレーって、ガチで辛いよね。」
Rei: Daigaku no gakushoku no katsukarē tte, gachi de tsurai yo ne.
Example: The cutlet curry of our University’s cafeteria is seriously spicy!

例:「ここのお店のたぬきうどん、ガチでしこってるな~」
Rei: Koko no o-ten no tanuki udon, gachi de shikotteru na.
Example: This shop’s tanu gyudon are super tasteful!

8. チンする (Chin Suru) – Sound of a Microwave

With the Covid 19 Pandemic taking over the world and people work from home, takeout or home-packed meal, commonly known as “bentō” 「弁当」in Japanese cuisine have been becoming increasingly popular. チンする (Chin Suru) is a Japanese slang for warming up your bentō in a microwave oven.

Let’s see the use of this Japanese slang in a casual conversation!

【朝、夫婦の会話】
夫: じゃあ、いってきまーす。
妻: あ、ちょっと待って!今夜、友達と食事する予定だから、昨日の残り物のおかずで悪いんだけど、チンして食べてくれる?冷蔵庫にいろいろ入ってるから。
夫: あ、そうなんだ。分かった。

Asa, fufu no kaiwa】
Otto: Jaa, itte kimasu!
Tsuma: Ah, chotto matte. Konya tomodachi to shokuji suru yotei dakara, kinou no nokorimono okazude waruindakedo, chin shite tabete kureru? Reizouko ni iroiro haitteiru kara.
Otto: Ah, sou nanda. Wakatta.

【Morning conversation between husband and wife】
Husband : Well, I am off, see you later.
Wife : Oh, wait a minute! I am going out for dinner with a friend tonight, would you mind to warm up (chin suru) yesterday’s leftovers and eat them? There are various things in the refrigerator.
Husband : Oh, I see. Ok, sure. 

9. おつぼね (Otsubone)

お つぼね (Otsubone) is a Japanese slang for Japanese women who like to keep working, despite the few chances to get a promotion, and do not get married. These women are often perceived as intimidating and is well influential from behind in the office but the word ostubone has a negative image and is used when gossiping behind someone’s back.

Japanese Conversation Example

A: 昨日、おつぼねに結婚の報告をしたら、予想通り嫌味を言われたの。
B: やっぱりねー。本当、あの人苦手。。。。

A: Kinō, otsu bone ni kekkon no hōkoku o shitara, yosō-dōri iyami o iwa reta no.
B: Yappari nee. Hontō, ano hito nigate…

A: Yesterday, when I informed that Ms. Bossy Pants about my marriage she said something rude, just as I expected she would.
B: That’s not surprising. I really can’t stand that woman …

10. はまる (hamaru)

はまる(hamaru) is a Japanese slang for “”To be infatuated with” or “Totally crazy into something”. Hamaru is mainly related to describing hobbies such as video games, tv-shows and so on. Hamaru can also be used to describe a person in love or being obsessed with the object of their affection.

Example:

  • 趣味にはまる「shumi ni hamaru」to be crazy with a hobby
  • 私はあの歌手にはまるwatashi ha ano kashu ni hamaru」I’m obsessed with that singer.

Japanese Conversation Example – Conversation between friends

A: 久しぶり。最近どう?
B: 実はさ、最近オンラインゲームにハマってて。
休みの日は10時間はやってるかも。
A:え~!めちゃくちゃハマってるね。

A: Hisashiburi. saikin dou?
B: Jitsu hasa, saikin onrain geemu ni hamattete.
Yasumi no hi ha 10 jikan hayatteru kamo.
A: E~! mechyakuchya hamatteru ne.

English Translation
A: It has been a while. How are you doing lately?
B: The truth is, lately I’ve been addicted to online games. On my days off I play for maybe ten hours.
A: What?! You must be addicted like crazy.

11. まったりする (Mattari Suru) for Chilling Out!

まったりする (Mattari Suru) is a Japanese slang for being relaxed and laid-back. Japanese people often work overtime. This can cause things to get really hectic and intense. That being said, Japanese people do care a lot about rest and relax.

Japanese Conversation Example – Conversation between friends

A: ねぇ、ちょっと疲れちゃった。
どっかでまったりお茶でもしない?
B: いいね、そうしよう。
A: Ne~e, chotto tsukare chatta. Dokka de mattari ocha demo shinai?
B: Ī ne, sō shiyou.

English Translation
A: I’m pretty tired. Do you want to relax somewhere and maybe get some tea or something?
B: Good idea. Let’s do that.

12. できこん (dekikon)

できこん (dekikon) is a term that can be described as “Shotgun Wedding”. Shotgun Wedding describes a wedding that is arranged due to an unplanned pregnancy and is a term that is used casually with close friends and family.

Japanese Conversation Example – Conversation between friends

A:実は、再来月に結婚することになったんだ。
B:え?それはおめでとう。ずいぶん急だな。もしかして、でき婚
A:うん、そう…。
A: Jitsuwa, saraigetsu ni kekkon suru koto ni natta nda.
B: E? Soreha omedetō. Zuibun kyūda na. Moshikashite, dekikon?
A: Un,-sō…

English Translation
A:To tell the truth, in two months  I am getting married.
B : Wow, that is great news! Congratulations! That was pretty quick. Wait. Don’t tell me it’s a shotgun wedding?
A:Actually… Yeah.

13. ナンパする (Nanpa Suru) and 逆ナンす る (Gyakunan Suru)

Picking up girls and boys have been a trend along Tokyo’s night districts for a long time. The Japanese Slang for this type of attracting attention with pick-up lines is commonly known as nanpa suru” 「ナンパする for men and  “gyaku nan suru逆ナンする for women.

Japanese Conversation Example – Two guy friends are having a conversation

A:昨日、クラブでめっちゃタイプの子がいたんだけど。
B:おぉ。
A:ナンパしようとしたら、他の奴に先こされちゃったんだよー。
A: Kinō, kurabu de metcha taipu no ko ga itandakedo.
B: O~o.
A: Nanpa shiyou to shitara, hoka no yatsu ni saki kosa re chatta nda yoo.

English Translation
A: There was a super hot girl at the club yesterday.
B: Oh.
A: I tried to pick (nanpa) her up, but another guy beat me to it.

14. 自己中 (Jikochuu) – Being Egocentric/Selfish/Self-centered

自己中 (Jikochuu) is an abbreviation of the word 自己中心的 (jiko chuu shin teki) which is used to talk about someone who is selfish, egocentric, or self-centered. They think that the world only evolves around them. As it does not have a positive meaning, jiko chuu should only be used casually with friends, family or those close to you.

例:彼は他人のことを気にしない。言いかえれば、自己中だ。

Rei: kannojo ha hokano hito no koto wo ki ni shinai. Iikaereba, jiko chuu da.

Example: She doesn’t pay attention to others; In other words, she is selfish.

If you wish to express the selfishness of someone in formal language, you should use “waga mama“(わがまま).

  • 「彼はわがままです」 (kare ha waga mama desu): He is selfish.
  • わがままな子供」 (waga mamana kodomo): A selfish child.

15.ドタキャン (Dotakyan)

ドタキャン (Dotakyan) refers to ” Cancelling an appointment at the last minute”. The word “dotanba” means “last minute” in Japanese while “kyan” is short for the word “kyanseru” 「キャンセル」which means “cancel“ in English.

If you are the one canceling, you should use “dotakyan suru”. If you are the one who got stood up, you should use “dotakyan sareru” 「ドタキャンされる」.

Japanese Conversation Example – Conversation between friends

A:あれ、どうしたの?何かあった?
B:ちょっと、聞いてよ。明日デートの約束してたのに、またドタキャンされちゃった!

A:are? doshitano? nanika atta?
B:Chotto kiiteyo. Ashita deeto no yakusoku shitetanoni mata dotakyan sarechatta

English translation
A : Oh, what’s going on? Did something happen?
B : Listen to this. I had a date tomorrow, but, it got canceled at the last moment again!

16. ムカつく (mukatsuku)

ムカつく (mukatsuku) is a popular term used by young Japanese people and it refers to describing something or a situation as ‘frustrating’ or ‘irritating’. mukatsuku should be used only in an informal situation and should not be said to people with higher positions.

Examples of using “Mukatsuku”
夫(おっと)のすること一(ひと)つ一(ひと)つにムカつく。 Otto no surukoto hitotsu hitotsu ni mukatsuku.
Everything my husband does is irritating.
友達(ともだち)が昨日(きのう)とは違(ちが)うことを言(い)っていてムカつく。 Tomodachi ga kinou towa chigau koto wo itte ite mukatsuku.
What my friend says is different from yesterday which makes me irritated.

17. ドンマイ (Donmai)

ドンマイ (Donmai) is a slang often used by friends or family, at work, or in sports scenarios and is said to express feelings of cheering for someone when they make a small mistake. It is a slang similar to the phrase ‘Not a big deal” or “No worries” in English.

How to use ドンマイ (Donmai) :

Donmai!(どんまい:ドンマイ)
It’s okay!

Donmai, ki ni shinaide!(ドンマイ、気(き)にしないで!)
Never mind!

Donmai, kondo wa ganbatte!(ドンマイ、今度(こんど)は頑張(がんば)って!)
You can do better next time!

18. 盛れる (もれる, moreru)

盛れる (もれる, moreru) is a slang that literally translates to “to make one look better ; to beautify”.  It is commonly used when people discuss about photo filter apps and which filter will make the photograph look the most aesthetic.

Examples of using “Mukatsuku”  

このアプリのフィルター、盛れるね! Kono apuri no firuta, moreru ne! The filter on this app makes the picture look great!

19. オン飲み (On-nomi)

オン飲み (On-nomi) is an abbreviated slang from オンライン (online) and 飲む (nomi) (to drink). 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic where everybody was forced to stay at home, people could not go out, so, they started to drink and chat with friends over Zoom.

Examples of using オン飲み (On-nomi)

今夜、オン飲みしよう! Konya, On-nomi shiyou!
Let’s do the online-drinking tonight. 

20. ぴえん (Pien)s

ぴえん (Pien) is a Japanese slang that expresses the crying emoji “🥺”. The slang is often mainly used by young girls when there is something to be depressed or sad about. “Pien” is said at the end of the sentence to show sadness about the situation instead of having to say “I am sad”.

Japanese Conversation Example

A: 最近食欲が止まらないんだよねぇ。
B: そういやなんかいっつも食べてるよね。
A: やせたいわー
B: いや、無理っしょ…
A: ぴえん

A: Saikin shokuyoku ga tomaranai nda yo nē. B: Sōiya nanka ittsumo tabe teru yo ne. A: Yasetai wa ̄ B: Iya, murissho… A: Pien

A: I can’t stop eating recently.
B: Year, you are eating something always.
A: I want to lose my weight.
B: No, you can’t…
A: Pien

21. 推し (oshi)

推し (oshi) refers to person whom you support. If someone asks you Dare oshi(誰推し)?”, it means “Who is your oshi(推し)” or “Who’s your favorite?”. This term is often used to talk about favorite idols, anime characters, and classmates.

Japanese Conversation Example

A: 実は私もモーヲタなんだよね。
B: まじで!?早く言ってよ!!え、誰推し?
A: まーちゃん推し!誰推し?
B: 前は推しメンいたけど、今は箱推しなんだよね。

A: Jitsuwa watashi mo mōwotana nda yo ne. B:Maji de! ? Hayaku itte yo! ! E, dare oshi? A: Ma ̄-chan oshi! Dare oshi? B: Mae wa oshimen itakedo, ima wa hako oshina nda yo ne.

A: Actually, I’m morota(モーヲタ) too.
B: Seriously? You should have told me earlier! Dare oshi(誰推し)?
A: Marchan oshi!! Dare oshi(誰推し)?
B: I used to have a oshi mem(推しメン), but now I’m hako oshi(箱推し).

22. 飛ぶぞ (Tobuzo)

飛ぶぞ (Tobuzo) is an exclamation that is used to describe food as being ridiculously delicious and mind-blowing.

Example sentence: 
これ食ってみな、飛ぶぞ Kore kutte mina, Tobuzo
Try eating this. It’s amazing. 

23. ワンチャン (wan chan)

ワンチャン (wan chan) comes from the English phrase “One chance” and it means “There is a chance/possibility”. ‘Wanchan‘ was used as a mah-jong term originally and is somewhat similar to the phrase “YOLO” in English.

Example sentence:  明日の試験、あの問題が出るならワンチャン受かるかも Ashita no shiken, ano mondai ga derunara wanchan ukaru kamo If that problem comes up in tomorrow’s test I might actually pass.

24. あたおか(ataoka)

あたおか (ataoka) is an abbreviation for Atama ga okashii (あたまがおかしい), which means “Your head is weird“. Basically, you are saying that someone is crazy or nuts but in a humorous way.

Japanese Conversation Example

A: 田中がまた客ともめたらしいよ。
B: また?
A: あの人マジであたおかだからな。

A: Tanaka ga mata kyaku to mometarashī yo. B: Mata? A: Ano hito majide ata o kadakara na.

A: I hear Tanaka get into trouble with his client again.
B: Again?
A: He is really ataoka.

25. それな (sore na)

Originally an internet Japanese slang, それな (sore na) is used mainly by young adults and children. “Sore na” is almost identical to the English slang “ikr” or “I know right.”

Japanese Conversation Example

A: 暑すぎてマスクつらいんだけど
B: わかる。でもマスクしてないと非国民扱いされるから、しないわけにはいかないんだよね
A: それな!

A: Atsu sugite masuku tsurai ndakedo B: Wakaru. Demo masuku shi tenaito hikokumin atsukai sa rerukara, shinai wake ni wa ikanai nda yo ne A: Sore na!

A: It’s too hot to wear a face mask…
B: I know. But if we don’t wear it, people will treat me as unpatriotic, so we have to…
A: Sorena!

Check out some of our other Japanese Slang Articles :