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Japanese Insults (1 of 2)

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The Basic Japanese Insults

I frequently get asked by my friends, students, and family members how to say certain "will not be repeated" words in Japanese. "How do you say **** you in Japanese?". To this I always have to respond snidely, "We're too polite and mature a culture to have an equivalent to that word in our language...but here's the next best thing." I'll keep this article PG for everyone's sake, and also because I really don't think American swear words have a literal translation in Japanese. On to the list:

  1. Kuso - This one can be used interchangeably with crap, or the "s" word if you're feeling dangerous. If you drop your hamburger on your suit that you just got back from they dry cleaners, this would be appropriate to say. Want to call someone less than good? Say, "Omae wa kuso da na", which means, "you're crap, aren't you?". Unless you're REALLY good friends with someone, the last comment should obviously be avoided, and using "kuso" as a swear to yourself when botching something up should be used sparingly as well.
  2. Aho - Another classic, this one simply means "idiot" or "simpleton". Just point your stern gaze and drop this one and you'll get your point across. If you forget to take the bathroom slippers off before you leave your business, you may be called this by your friends.
  3. Boke ("Bo" as in little bo peep, and "ke" as in kelly) - Similar to "aho", this one means "senile". If something is completely obvious and a person draws a blank stare in their attempt to grasp it, then you may call them a "boke". In essence, you can use this one as a replacement for "duh".
  4. Kuzu - This literally means trash and, as such, can be used in the exact same way you would use it in English. However, I'd call it a little on the stronger side, and very rarely do I hear this being used, even amongst friends. If you want to hurt someone's feelings, simply say "Kuzu yarou", which means, kind of, "you pile of trash", and then get ready for a fight.
  5. Kasu - Kasu is what's left over from the process of making Sake, after all of the tasty liquid has been removed from the container. There's a food called kasu zuke (zoo-Kelly) that uses the insoluble matter left over from the sake making process to season things like cucumbers. Anyway, the point is, it's the undesired junk that's left after all the good stuff has been taken away. In essence, it means trash, but "kasu" is not as strong as "kuzu", and you hear this used when younger kids especially are joking around. Just looking and saying "kasu" disdainfully is all you need to do.


Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 11, 2011:

Aha, so that's what it is! Thanks, Akbok! (and LOL to "what's my name in Japanese?")

Akbok (author) from Aomori prefecture, Japan on April 10, 2011:

Ruth: I'm glad you live a life full of animosity that merits the use of the multiple bad words I've written about. I envy you!

Simone: Yeah, kuso is pretty ubiquitous in manga, anime, and tv shows over here. The shikuso you're talking about might be "chikusho" (darn it or damn it)? Thanks!

Davito: I know exactly what you're talking about when it comes to those questions. It's usually the first thing people ask after "what's my name in Japanese?"

DavitosanX on April 07, 2011:


I studied some japanese, and people always asked me about the curse words. I got tired of telling them, "I don't know any! Jeez..."

Now I know some :D Thanks, Akbok

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 07, 2011:

Oh, yay! These are fantastic! I did not know kuso before... but I guess I've heard it a lot... though I guess it always sounded kind of like... "shikuso" before... or something of the sort. Gosh, I wish I spoke Japanese. Great Hub!

Ruthcurley from Bozrah, CT on April 07, 2011:

LOL, very funny. I knew Kuso but will be glad to use the others now (of course judiciously). It's easy to get carried away swearing in a second language because there are no bad feelings attached to it. :-)