Skip to main content

More Japanese Insults

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Continuation of Japanese insults (#6 through #10)

Hopefully you're still an ethically upstanding citizen after learning all of those corrupting words from my first article on Japanese insults, but I also hope that you're not too sickened by the prospect of ingesting a few more insulting Japanese words.

#6 Manuke (Mah - new - kelly) - Just like English has a whole bunch of words that mean the same thing (idiot, dunce, stupid), Japanese too has a plethora of words that share a common meaning. Manuke is similar to "aho" and "boke" in that it focuses on calling someone less than intelligent. The only catch is that if you were going to call someone an insult directly to their face, I'd suggest not using Manuke. This is more appropriate if you're talking behind someone's back, for example "Aitsu wa manuke dakara na~" (It's because he's a fool...).

#7 Nou Tarin - Ready for a pretty cruel one? This is actually banned from being said on public broadcasts, but when you translate it to English, it might come as a surprise. Nou tarin means "Lacking brain matter", and is the shortened version of the longer phrase "Nou miso ga tarinai" (means the exact same thing as what I put in quotes above). For effective use, just say "Omae wa noutarin ka?" (Roughly: Are you seriously lacking that much brain power?) Just remember it's not said much, and most people consider it to be cruel.

#8 Dobe - The meaning of this changes depending on what region of Japan you're in, but always more or less means "loser". The literal translation of this word is "last place" or "mud", so if you want to make fun of your friend for going bankrupt by his 4th roll in Monopoly, go ahead and call him a Dobe. As for the sensitivity factor of this word, I'd say you won't offend anyone in the room if you use this within a good group of friends.

#9 Saru or Taco - Number 9 is a two in one, because they both involve animals. Saru means "monkey", and taco means "a delicious Mexican food" (all joking aside, it means octopus). Obviously in English, calling someone a monkey or an octopus wouldn't really get you too many laughs, and you might even be labeled "pathetically corny". In Japanese, however, calling someone either of these animals provides one with more than enough laughs for a 5 minute period. Once again, within a good group of friends, you'll have no worries insulting anyone using these.

#10 Baka - AKA "stupid", the classic insult that a lot of non Japanese speakers know quite well. The ubiquity of this word ranks up there with konnichiwa and sayounara, but in most cases you'll have a lot more fun using it. No matter where you are in Japan, this can be used and fully understood, with degrees of severity changing depending on what tone of voice you use to say it. If you say it sternly, you can make a child cry. If you say it jokingly and in good humor, with a tiny laugh in between the Ba and the Ka, then it can actually be an endearing way to insult a friend. Baka is the most used word when friends are joking around with other friends, and I dare you to try to walk through a mall in Japan and not hear this word used at least 20 times, especially in front of Mcdonald's.

Sum Up

Hopefully by now you've mastered at least one or two words with which to insult someone with. I've offered you a variety of insults, ranging from some pretty serious ones that would require you to know martial arts or the equally fine art of running way, and some that are a staple in friendly banter amongst friends. Jya na!


Omniah Idrees on January 02, 2014:

I know most of them.

Thanks to Manga and Anime (y)

arigato gozaimasu!

Dreamy on February 04, 2012:

Bishie is short for bishounen ^^

Akbok (author) from Aomori prefecture, Japan on September 18, 2011:

lzlpio90: Not sure about the first one, but shoujo is correct and is the third one Gambatte (kind of like "try hard!" or "good luck!")? Anyways, standby for the Hub, just got down from the tallest mountain in NE Japan so I need some recovery time :

lzlpio90 on September 14, 2011:

yeah... there are lots of others too, like bishies, shoujo, gambaite.. i don't know if i spell it correctly. LOL...

Akbok (author) from Aomori prefecture, Japan on September 14, 2011:

Ginjill ashberry: Kochira koso arigatou gozaimasu!

lzlpio90: Haha, yeah I'm sure it comes up a lot in manga, along with other more creative insults. Maybe I'll do a words in Japanese manga hub!

lzlpio90 on September 14, 2011:

I have been reading Japanese manga and i've always encounter that word "Baka".. Now i know what does it mean by now...:D Thanks for these!

ginjill ashberry on April 12, 2011:

Reading your hubs were Fun. Arigato..

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

Simone: Haha yes, Tako (taco) is one of my favorite things to call someone. It's not too offensive yet still manages to conjure up some amazing images. Maybe as I go along in my daily life and subconsciously think of more funny insults I'll make a part 3. Thanks so much for reading!

Ruth: Not being a connoisseur for too many old Japanese films, I have to admit that I never knew that. Regarding your students, I completely understand, as a year of substitute teaching has yielded me with more experience shooing kids away who were asking about naughty Japanese words than actually teaching them something useful.

Wendy: I laughed when I read your Octopus Bell comment! Japanese seems to have a lot of homonyms that find their way into other languages (mostly Spanish). One example, Ajo: garlic in spanish and aho: idiot in Japanese. Thanks for reading my Hub!

Wendy S. Wilmoth from Kansas on April 09, 2011:

Isn't it funny how a word can mean one thing in one language and something completely different in another? Hmmm...I just may go down to Octopus Bell and grab a burrito for dinner tonight.

Ruthcurley from Bozrah, CT on April 08, 2011:

Taco is a classic old japanese film insult. I never remember to use it. You're right. All my spanish speaking ESL students know 'baka' and 'aho' I'll have to teach them 'taco'. the can say " you're a baka vacca" or a "taco" and secretly insult.

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

Hehehee! I knew most of these, but not all, so I've come away with some very fun new words to play with. And I had no idea that taco could be used as an insult. Awesome!! LOVE the Hub.