The Epic List of 250 Japanese Words and Phrases for Anime Lovers (With Kanji!)
Considered one of the most difficult languages in the world, mastery of Japanese requires years of intense learning and practice. If you are still learning but would like to enjoy your Anime binges with less reliance on subtitles, here are 250 frequently used Japanese words and phrases to help you along. As with many other languages, the first step to understanding dialogue spoken by native Japanese is to identify keywords and phrases. Doing so might not grant you full understanding of what’s said. However, you would at least comprehend the gist and context of the conversation.
- This list of Japanese words and phrases commonly used in Anime is arranged alphabetically, with several entries beginning with ellipses (…) and lower caps. Such entries are phrases or words that invariably follow others. For example, at the end of a sentence, or tagged to nouns.
- Unlike English, nearly all Japanese verbs are conjugated by modifying the tail of a “dictionary form.” Given there are well over ten ways to modify a Japanese verb, this list is primarily sorted using the dictionary form. With some entries highlighting relevant conjugations.
- In Japanese, the suffix nai is used to transform a verb into the negative. Many Anime characters tend to pronounce nai as ne to project a more informal or masculine manner of speech.
- All textbooks spell the Japanese present affirmative verb stem as masu, though the “u” is very soft. For example, tabemasu is not pronounced as ta-be-ma-su but ta-be-mass. Take note of this if you can’t find a particular word you just heard because of the ending sound.
- Some textbooks also spell the “ou” sound as “ō” or simply as “o.” For this list, the extended spelling is used.
- If you are completely new to Japanese, note that the language pronounces every syllable. Shine is thus not how we would say it in English, but shi-neh.
- With there being thousands of Japanese words and phrases in active use, this list is naturally nowhere near comprehensive. To include as many relevant words as possible, common greeting, numbers, etc, are presented in the appendix.
250 Japanese Words and Phrases for Anime Lovers
- Aho (あほ): Moron in the Kansai dialect. Could also be used to state an action is stupid.
- Aikawarazu (相変わらず): As usual. The same as always.
- Aite (相手): Opponent.
- Aitsu (あいつ): Rude way of saying THAT person.
- Akan (あかん): The Kansai way of saying "no use" or "no good."
- Akirameru (諦める): To give up.
- Akuma (悪魔): Demon.
- Arienai (有り得ない): Unbelievable. Impossible. In the Kansai dialect, this becomes ariehen.
- Arubaito (アルバイト): Part time work. Sometimes shortened to baito. Derived from the German word arbeit.
- Arukimasu (歩きます): Walk.
- Ashi (足): Leg
- Atarimae (当たり前): Of course. Naturally.
- Atsui (熱い): Hot.
- Ayamaru (謝る): To apologize.
- Ayashii (怪しい): Suspicious
- Baba (ばば): Old woman. The male version is jiji.
- Baka (バカ): Stupid. Probably the most well-known rude Japanese swear word.
- Bakemono (化物): Monster.
- Benkyou (勉強): Study. To learn.
- Betsu Ni (別に): It's nothing. Nah.
- Bijin (美人): Beauty.
- Bikkuri Suru (びっくりする): To be shocked. Suru is often omitted.
- Bimbo (貧乏): Poor. Lacking money. The opposite is kane mochi.
- Bishounen (美少年): A beautiful young guy.
- Bocchan (坊ちゃん): Occasionally used as a semi-derogative slang for rich boys. Also, the title of one of Japan's most famous novels.
- Bouken (冒険): Adventure.
- Bouzu (坊主): Small boy. The term actually means young monk but it came to be associated with young boys because young male Japanese students used to shave their heads bald.
- … chatta (… ちゃった): This suffix is tagged to verbs to indicate something as done and irreversible. Could imply regret too.
- Chibi (チビ): Small cute thing.
- Chigau (違う): Wrong. In the Kansai dialect, this becomes chau.
- Chiisai (小さい): Small.
- Chikara (力): Strength.
- Chinpira (チンピラ): Hoodlum.
- Chotto Ii (ちょっといい): Do you have a moment?
- Chou (超): A prefix meaning super.
- Chousen (挑戦): Challenge.
- Daijoubu (大丈夫): This means "fine/okay" and could be used in a variety of situations, including, "Are you daijoubu (fine) with that?"
- Dakara (だから): Therefore.
- Dame (駄目): Ineffective. No use. No good. Or simply, no.
- … de gozaru/gozaimasu (…でござる／ございます): A highly formal, largely archaic way of ending a sentence. (Consider it the medieval form of … desu) Nowadays, often used in Anime for comedic effect. Such as to portray a character as unnaturally polite, or obsessed with medieval chivalry.
- Dekkai (でっかい): Huge.
- Densetsu (伝説): Legend. Densetsu no otoko. The legendary guy.
- Deshi (弟子): Disciple.
- Dete Ke (でてけ): Get out!
- Doki Doki (ドキドキ): An onomatopoeia indicating the rapid thumping of one's heart. Such as when seeing one's absolute true love.
- Don Don (どんどん): Progressively
- Fukuzatsu (複雑): Complicated. The opposite is kan tan.
- Fuzaken (ふざけん): A very rude way of saying, don't mess with me. Often spat as fuzakenna too.
- Gaki (ガキ): Brat. Kid.
- Giri Giri (ぎりぎり): Just in time. There are many such repeated words in the Japanese language, and linguistically, they are known as onomatopoeias.
- Gyaru (ギャル): Hot babe.
- Hakai Suru (破壊): To destroy
- Hamon (破門): Excommunication. Expulsion from a clan or guide.
- Hashiru (走る): Run.
- Hayai (速い): Quick. Fast.
- … hazu (… はず): Tagged to end of sentences to imply uncertainty.
- Hazukashii (恥ずかしい): Embarrassing.
- Heiki (平気): I'm fine.
- Hentai (変態): Pervert. Abnormal.
- Hidoi (ひどい): Awful. Terrible.
- Hikari (光): Light.
- Hisashiburi (久しぶり): Long time no see.
- Hizamakura (膝枕): Hisa means lap while makura is pillow. Combined together, it's that heavenly scenario when a crestfallen boy can rest his head on the lap of a girl to be soothed.
- Hontou (本当): Really? In the Kansai dialect, this becomes honma.
- Hora (ほら): Hey!
- Ii Kagen Ni Shinasai (いいかげんに しなさい): Enough of that! Stop your nonsense.
- Ii Kangae (いい考え): Good thinking. Smart idea.
- Ikemen (イケメン): A handsome, charming guy.
- Ikuze (行くぜ): Let's go.
- Imi (意味): Meaning
- Iranai (いらない): I don't want it.
- Irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ): A Japanese phrase world famous for being the greeting heard when one enters a Japanese shop or restaurant. But within the language, it is also an important keigo i.e. polite language. Tanaka-san wa irrashimase ka means "is Mr. Tanaka around?"
- Isekai (異世界): An alternate world or dimension.
- Isshokenmei (一所懸命): To give it your all.
- Itadakimasu (いただきます): Formally, this means, "I humbly receive." Formally, this means, "I humbly receive." Nowadays, this is one of the most well-known Japanese words worldwide, renowned as what Japanese people say before eating.
- Itai (痛い): Painful. Or, it hurts!
- Ittai dou iu imi desu ka (一体どういう意味ですか): What on earth do you mean? Imi could be replaced by tsumori to change the sentence to, what on earth do you want? Tsumori meaning intention.
- Jya Nai (じゃない): It's not. This is usually placed at the end of a sentence.
- Jibun de … (自分で): Different verbs could follow this. But the phrase itself means "by yourself."
- Jikoshoukai (自己紹介): Self introduction. A must when a new student joins a class in high school rom-com Animes. And often the beginning of convoluted relationships or romances.
- Joudan (冗談): Joke
- Junbi (準備): Preparation.
- Jyama (邪魔): Obstruction, hindrance, a bother.
- Kachi (勝ち): Victory.
- Kagayaki (輝): Brilliance.
- Kakkoii (カッコイイ): Cool. The masculine version of kawaii.
- … kamoshirenai (…かもしれない): Tagged to end of sentences to mean, "I think."
- Kanashii (悲しい): Sad.
- Kanben Shite Kudasai (勘弁して下さい): Please forgive me. Please spare me. This isn't necessarily a plead for forgiveness. Without kudasai, it could also be a retort meaning, "Oh, spare me that nonsense."
- Kanzen (完全): Completely
- Kareshi (彼氏): Boyfriend.
- Kashikomarimashita (かしこまりました): A very formal way of saying "I understand" or "Certainly" in business and service industries.
- … kashira (… かしら): Used by females at the end of sentences to indicate uncertainty. It is roughly equivalent to, "I think."
- Kashira (頭): Boss or chief
- Katagi (気質): While the dictionary meaning is that of temperament, this also refers to people who live a clean, honest life.
- Katte Ni Shiro (勝手にしろ): Do as you please.
- Kawaii (かわいい): Cute. Adorable. Aww!!!!!
- Kawaisou (可哀相): Pathetic.
- Kega (怪我): Injury.
- Kesatsu (警察): Police.
- Ki Ni Naru (気になる): To get worried, curious, or intrigued about something.
- Ki Ni Shinai (気にしない): Do not worry.
- Ki O Tsukete (気を付けて): Take care. Be careful.
- Kimi (君): One of many Japanese words for "you." It could both imply intimacy between the speakers, or a condescending attitude.
- Kimoi (キモい): Gross. The shortened form of kimochi warui.
- Kisama (貴様): Yet another rude way of saying "you" in the Japanese language.
- Kizuita (気付いた): To have realized.
- Koibito (恋人): Lover.
- Kokoro Atari (心当たり): To know something.
- Kokuhaku (告白): To confess. Or declaration of one's love.
- Korosu (殺す): To kill.
- Kouhai (後輩): Junior.
- Koukousei (高校生): High school student.
- Kowai (怖い): Scary
- Kurae (くらえ): Behold! Eat this! Shouted before the execution of a deadly technique in fights, and sometimes sounding like "ku-rake" in the heat of everything.
- kuremasu (くれます): In short, kuremasu and its variants of kuremasen and kurenai are polite suffixes tagged to the end of Japanese sentences when asking permission. It roughly means “to hand down to me.” For example, misete kuremasen ka? Could you let me see it?
- Kuso (くそ): An expletive quite simply meaning, shit!
- Kuuki Yomeru (空気読める): This translates to read the air, but what it actually means is to note the situation and ambience, such as during a conversation. The negative version is kuuki yomenai.
- Machi (町): Town.
- Mahou (魔法): Magic
- Maji (まじ): Really? You serious?
- Makasete Kudasai (任せて下さい): Leave it to me. Entrust that to me.
- Makeru (負ける): To be defeated. You will more often hear this as zettai makenai, or a variation of, which means "I wouldn't be defeated!"
- Mamoru (守る): To protect. Shouting minna o mamoru (to protect everybody) will more often than not, suddenly fill an Anime protagonist with incredible power.
- Maniau (間に合う): To be in time. The negative form is maniawanai.
- Masaka (まさか): Impossible! No way!
- Mattaku (まったく): This is best understood as a mild expletive to express annoyance. Frequently pronounced without the first sound too.
- Mazui (まずい): Adjective for something that's highly troublesome or bad tasting.
- Me No Mae Ni (目の前に): Literally, before one's eyes.
- Meccha (めっちゃ): Kansai adverb meaning "very."
- Meiwaku (迷惑): While the kanji suggests bewilderment, the word actually means annoyance, irritation, frustration, etc.
- Mendousai (面倒さい): Troublesome. Like other Japanese words ending with “…ai,” it is often pronounced as mendouse.
- Minna (みんな): Everybody.
- … mitai (… みたい): A suffix meaning, "alike." For example, inu mitai. (Like a dog)
- Mochiron (もちろん): Of course.
- Moeru (燃える): To ignite.
- Mondai (問題): Problem.
- Moshi Wake Gozaimasen (もし分けございませ): An elaborate Japanese phrase for “sorry.”
- Moshikashite (もしかして): Could it possibly be …
- Mou Genkai Da (もう限界だ): At my/his/its limits.
- Muri (無理): Undoable, impossible, unachievable. Note that muri could also imply excess. As in, muri o shinai. (Don't overdo it)
- Nakama (仲間): Companion. Ally.
- Naruhodo (なるほど): I see. The best phrase to utter when you have spectacularly deduced the criminal in a crime mystery.
- … ni natta (… になった): Ni natta is the informal form of ni narimasu. It means "has become" or "has changed into." For example, ookii ni natta. (It turned big)
- Nigeru (逃げる): To escape.
- Ningen (人間): Human.
- Nioi (匂い): Scent.
- … no koto ga suki desu (… のことが好きです): This Japanese phrase always follows the name of a person or entity, and is a declaration of love. Few high school rom-coms are without several tearful mouthings of this.
- … no sei (… の せい ): Fault. Doraemon no sei. Doraemon’s fault.
- … no tame ni (… のために): For the sake of. In Shonen Anime, this is almost always hollered by protagonists at the lowest point of a fight. For example, minna no tame ni! (For the sake of everyone!) Ai no tame ni! (For the sake of love!)
- Nodo Ga Kara Kara (のどがカラカラ): I'm thirsty.
- Nombiri Suru (のんびりする): To take it easy.
- Oiishi (美味しい): Delicious!
- Okama (おかま): Homosexual or cross-dresser.
- Omae (お前): A very uncouth way of saying "you." Strictly speaking, this pronoun should only be used on someone with a lower social or family status, and in a harsh context. In Anime, however, many male characters use it on everyone, friends and foes alike.
- Omae Kankei Nai (お前 かんけいない): None of your business.
- Omoshiroi (面白い): Interesting. The opposite is tsumaranai.
- Onaka Ga Peko Peko (お腹がペコペコ): I'm hungry. A more formal way of saying this is, onaka ga suite imasu.
- Onegaishimasu (お願いします): Please! Usually shorten to onegai in Anime.
- Onushi (おぬし): An old way of saying "you." Used with equals or inferiors.
- Ookii (大きい): Big.
- Oppai (おっぱい): Breasts
- Orei (お礼): An item or action intended as gratitude.
- Oshare (おしゃれ): Stylish. Again, note that Japanese words such as this are pronounced as o-sha-re. Not o-share.
- Osoi (遅い): Slow.
- Osoraku (おそらく): Probably.
- Ossan (おっさん): An informal and sometimes rude way of referring to a middle-aged man.
- Owabi Mono (お詫びもの): A gift intended as an apology.
- Oyaji (親父): Dad
- Pinchi (ピンチ): A borrowed word from English, it means exactly what it sounds like. A pinch. As in, a horrible situation with no easy way out.
- Ryoukai (了解): I understand! Roger!
- Saiko (最高): The best.
- Saitei (最低): The worst.
- Sakusen Ga Aru (作戦がある): I got a strategy.
- Samui (寒い): Cold.
- Sansei (賛成): Agreed!
- Sasuga (さすが): As expected. Used at the beginning of sentences.
- Satsujin Han (殺人犯): Murderer.
- Sawagi (騒ぎ): Disturbance.
- Sawaru (触る): Touch. The negative form is sawaranai.
- Sempai (先輩): Senior.
- Sessha (拙者): The olden way of referring to oneself. In Anime, heavily used by samurais. The word roughly means a clumsy person.
- Shihai Suru (支配する): To dominate.
- Shikkari Shiro (しっかりしろ): Pull yourself together! Buck up!
- Shinjirarenai (信じられない): Unbelievable.
- Shinjiru (信じる): To believe in. Ore no listo o shinjiru. Please believe in my list.
- Shinjitsu (真実): Truth.
- Shinu (死ぬ): To die. Very stylish to shout the slang version of shine!!! Before pulverising your opponent.
- Shishou (師匠): Master. As in the person who imparted a skill to you.
- Shoubu (勝負): Showdown.
- Shouganai (しょうがない): Can't be helped. I have no choice. The word is the shortened form of shikata ga nai.
- Sodan (相談): Discussion. Talk.
- Soko Made … (そこまで): Used at the start of phrases, this means "to the extent of."
- Sonna (そんな): What many Anime characters would say when told of an unfortunate or upsetting event, although the word actually means "that thing."
- Sugi/Sugiru (過ぎる): To overdo. For example, tabe-sugiru means to overeat. Nomi-sugiru means to overdrink.
- Sugoi (凄い): Fantastic! Incredible. Often spoken as suge too.
- Suru (する): A most powerful Japanese verb that means "to do." It could be combined with many other words to form new verbs. Often used as shite (participle) and shita (past) too.
- Taihen (大変): While this means "extremely," said by itself it could also mean something terrible has happened.
- Tanomu (頼む): To rely on. When used in Japanese speech or writing, this becomes polite language, such as when asking for a favor or giving instructions.
- Tantei (探偵): Detective.
- Taosu (倒す): To defeat.
- Tatakau (戦う): To fight.
- Te (手): Hand
- Temee (手前): An extremely rude way of say "you." In Anime, often shouted by opponents before fights.
- Tenkousei (転校生): Transfer student.
- … to iu (… という): Called. For example, Inaba to iu machi A town called Inaba.
- … to moushimasu (… と申します) : Said after a name as a very polite way of introducing oneself. For example, Watashi wa John to moushimasu.
- … to omoimasu (… と思います): I think. Often also simplified as to omou.
- Tonari (隣): Beside. Next to.
- Tondemonai (とんでもない): Outrageous, incredible, unbelievable.
- Tonikaku (とにかく): Usually used at the beginning of a sentence to mean, "anyway."
- Toriaiezu (とりあえず): Usually used at the beginning of a sentence to mean, "meanwhile, I will …"
- Tottemo (とっても): Very
- Tsugi (次): Next.
- Tsumetai (冷たい): Chilly. Could also be used to describe a person as distant, aloof, uncaring, etc.
- Tsundere (ツンデレ): Used to describe a person who puts up a cold exterior, but is actually nice and affectionate inside.
- Tsuyosa (強さ): Power.
- Ue (上): Ue literally means up, or above. However, it could also be added to nouns as an honorific. For example, chichi-ue, which means Father. Or ani-ue, which means Older Brother.
- Umai (うまい): Informal way of saying delicious.
- Unmei (運命): Fate.
- Uragiri (裏切り): Betrayal.
- Urayamashii (うらやましい): Jealous.
- Urusai (うるさい): Noisy. Most Anime characters say this as uruse.
- Uso (噓): Lies! I don't believe it. Etc.
- Uwasa (噂): Rumor. Uwasa to iu… According to rumors…
- Wakai (若い): Young. Combined with mono i.e. wakamono, it refers to young people.
- Wakaranai (分からない): I don't understand, or, I don't know. In the Kansai dialect, this becomes, wakarahen.
- Wana (罠): Trap.
- Yabai (やばい): Oh no! Shit! Argg!
- Yada (やだ): This is a condensation of iya da, and simply means yucks. No! I don't like it! I hate it!
- Yahari (やはり): As I thought. When used as yappari, it means as suspected.
- Yakusoku (約束): Promise.
- Yameru (やめる): To stop. Used by itself, it implores the recipient to stop whatever he or she is doing.
- Yanki (ヤンキー): Young punk or young gangster. Despite how it sounds, it doesn't remotely mean American.
- Yare Yare (やれやれ): Oh dear.
- Yarou (やろう): Uncouth way of referring to someone else.
- Yaru (やる): To do. This is the less formal, borderline uncouth and limited version of suru. In Anime, often conjectured into yatte.
- Yasashii (優しい): When used to describe a person or a group of people, it means "kind," "caring," splendid," all the nice things, etc.
- Yatsu (奴): A very derogative way of referring to another person.
- Yatta (やった): I did it! Yes! Alrighty!
- Yokatta (よかった): Great! As in, that’s great!
- Yo no naka ni (世の中に): A Japanese phrase that means “in this world.”
- Yoshi (よし): An exclamation meaning, "all right then!" "Let start!"
- Yougisha (容疑者): Suspect in a crime.
- Youkai (妖怪): Supernatural creature.
- Yowaii (弱い): Weak. A yowaiimono is a weak thing.
- Yume (夢): Dream. Fantasy.
- Yurusu (許す): This is more often heard within Anime as yurusanai. Shouted in anger, it means "I wouldn't forgive you!" Or, "I wouldn't tolerate what you did!"
- Zannen (残念): Too bad for you. This could also be said in a sympathetic or sarcastic way.
- Zettai (絶対): Absolutely.
The Curious Case of “You” In Japanese
There are many ways of saying “you” in Japanese. However, all carry some form of negative or awkward connotation. In real-life, most Japanese stick to using titles or family names with honorifics.
The Curious Case of “I” In Japanese
Like the case of “you,” there are numerous Japanese words for “I.” For example, watashi, watakushi, boku (for guys), atashi (for ladies), wagahai, and so on. Note that ore, which is heavily used by male characters in Anime, is considered rude in real-life.
Appendix: Basic Japanese Words
1: Common Japanese Greetings and Responses
Good Morning: Ohaiyou
Good Day/Afternoon: Konnichiwa
Good Evening: Kombanwa
Good Night: Oyasumi Nasai
Thank you: Arigatou
I’m Back: Tadaima (Said when returning home)
Welcome Home: Okaeri (Welcoming someone back home)
2: Japanese Numbers
Eleven: Juu Ichi
Twelve: Juu Ni
Ten Thousand: Man
4: The 5W and 1H
5: Common Nouns Used In Anime
Check out this list of Japanese travel words and phrases for more commonly used Japanese words.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Kuan Leong Yong