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Japanese Slang 101: 13 Cool Words that Japanese People Actually Use

Japanese Slang 101: 13 Cool Words that Japanese People Actually Use

Date published: 24 April 2020
Last updated: 29 September 2020

When learning Japanese, you'll come to a point when you want to learn Japanese slang! It’s common to learn very polite phrases and sentence structure at first.

However, after coming to Japan you might realize that the way people talk to each other is almost always completely different than that! While it is important to know polite Japanese, it’s always good to know colloquial Japanese as well!

With the following Japanese slang words, you’ll be on your way to talking natural Japanese in no time!

Table of Contents
  1. 超 (chō): Super
  2. めっちゃ (metcha): Seriously
  3. 半端ない (hanpa nai): Insane
  4. マジで (maji de): For real, Literally
  5. やばい (yabai): Cool in Japanese/Or Awful...actually, anything!
  6. ムカつく (mukatsuku): Irritating
  7. うざい (uzai): Annoying
  8. キモい (kimoi): Gross, Ew
  9. ダサい (dasai): Ugly, Lame, Old-fashioned
  10. 微妙 (bimyō): Questionable, Unsure
  11. ガチ (gachi): Totally, Seriously, For real
  12. それ (sore), それな (sore na): Exactly!, That’s what I was gonna say!
  13. ウケる (ukeru): Hilarious

超 (chō): Super

超 (chō): Super

Chō can be used as a word for “super” or “very”.
Example: “Chō oishii!”—Super tasty in Japanese!

めっちゃ (metcha): Seriously

めっちゃ (metcha): Seriously

Although this Japanese slang word is more commonly used in eastern Japan, many Japanese use it on a regular basis! Metcha can be used like the words "really" or “very” or “so”.

Example: “Metcha kawaii!”—So cute!

半端ない (hanpa nai): Insane

半端ない (hanpa nai): Insane

Not meaning insane in the head, this word is used to describe something, well, totally insane! Totally crazy in Japanese. You can use this word to talk about something either very good or very bad.

Example 1: If you’re watching sports and see someone do something, well, insane, you can say it was “hanpa nai”.
Example 2: If it’s raining very hard outside, you could say “ame hanpa nai!”—The rain is insane!

マジで (maji de): For real, Literally

マジで (maji de): For real, Literally

Similar to chō and metcha, maji de can be used as describing something as “very ___”. It can also be used alone as “maji de?!” (for real?!) or “maji de!” (for real! Really! in Japanese), although chō and metcha cannot.

Example: "Sore maji de hanpa nai!" — "That's literally insane!"

やばい (yabai): Cool in Japanese/Or Awful...actually, anything!

やばい (yabai): Cool in Japanese/Or Awful...actually, anything!

Yabai is a useful Japanese slang word that you can use to describe just about anything. Yabai is a word that can be perceived as positive or negative based on the way you say it, and context of the situation. So if you’d like to describe your food, someone’s looks, or even the weather, “yabai” is a word that many Japanese use!

ムカつく (mukatsuku): Irritating

ムカつく (mukatsuku): Irritating
Photo credit: Mahathir Mohd Yasin / Shutterstock.com

This is a Japanese slang word you can use in a sentence or just on its own when you just want to complain about something or someone that’s rubbing you the wrong way!

うざい (uzai): Annoying

うざい (uzai): Annoying

Much like the above-listed mukatsuku, uzai can also be used in a sentence or alone when you are feeling a bit irritable.

Example: “Ano hito, maji de uzai!”—“That person is so annoying!”

キモい (kimoi): Gross, Ew

キモい (kimoi): Gross, Ew

“Kimoi” is a shortened version of “kimochi warui”, meaning gross or disgusting. If anything grosses you out, a simple “Kimoi!” would suffice to show your repulsion! This can be used to describe someone or something’s actions as well as looks.

ダサい (dasai): Ugly, Lame, Old-fashioned

ダサい (dasai): Ugly, Lame, Old-fashioned

This is another Japanese slang word that can be used to describe not only looks but also actions. Dasai is a way of saying ugly in slang. If someone is completely inconsiderate, you can say that they are “dasai”, and if they are wearing some awful clothes you can also say “dasai”.

微妙 (bimyō): Questionable, Unsure

微妙 (bimyō): Questionable, Unsure

Bimyō is a word without a direct translation to English. It can be used to mean something is “questionable”. You can use the word bimyō to describe something that is neither good nor bad, however it usually is used to describe the bad.

For example, if you’re trying on clothes and ask someone how it is and they reply with “bimyō”, you’d better put them back on the shelf!

ガチ (gachi): Totally, Seriously, For real

ガチ (gachi): Totally, Seriously, For real

Gachi is a Japanese slang word that simply means “seriously”, and is used when something is very (blank).
Example: “Gachi de omoshiroi.”—“Seriously funny.”

それ (sore), それな (sore na): Exactly!, That’s what I was gonna say!

それ (sore), それな (sore na): Exactly!, That’s what I was gonna say!

When having a conversation with a good friend, you’re bound to have moments when you completely agree with them—and in this instance, you can say “Sore!” or “Sore na!”. Sore really just means “that”, but it’s often used in agreement with whomever you are having a conversation with.

ウケる (ukeru): Hilarious

ウケる (ukeru): Hilarious

This is another helpful Japanese slang word that is used often in conversations. When something is funny or ridiculous, you can say “ukeru” to show your amusement!

Knowing conversational and colloquial Japanese will definitely help you out when learning the language, as it’s almost completely different from polite Japanese! Knowing this slang can make your Japanese sound much more natural and you may even surprise some people just by knowing some of these simple words!

Written by Lindsey Schultz



*Photo Credit (main image): ondakkarachai / Shutterstock.com

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
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