5 Japanese Slangs You Should Master to Impress Your Friends

Apr 8, 2017

If you have been living in Japan for a while, you would have experienced how Japanese people are impressed when foreigners speak even simple Japanese. You can up your Japanese game and amaze your friends by learning these 5 slangs that are commonly used by the young in Japan.

*Note: The following terms are strictly colloquial and shouldn’t be used in business or other formal settings. Also, keep in mind that these are usually used by young people and may sound slightly strange otherwise.

Maji / Majide (adj)

Maji or Majide is an exaggerated version of “really”. You can use this word in front of any adjectives to emphasize your point. Used on its own and followed by a question mark, “Maji?” can also be a way to express disbelief.

e.g.) Maji kawaii! → Super cute!

Yabai (adj)

Yabai literally means “risky, dangerous”, but used as a slang, it can have various meanings from “awesome” to “Oh My God”. (Similar to how the term “sick” in English literally means “ill”, but can also be used to say something is cool.) Yabai is a versatile word that you may hear a lot on the streets.

e.g.) Kore yabai! → This is awesome!

Dasai (adj)

This one is a total insult; if a person tells you that you are dasai, then they think you are lame or uncool. It can be combined with maji to mean “super lame”.

e.g.) Ano kaban dasai ne. → That bag is so lame.

Ukeru (adj/verb)

Literally, ukeru means “to receive”. But it is often used by young people to mean something is funny. You should accompany this with laughter or clap hands to express your amusement. But it may come off sounding slightly like a high school girl, so be careful!

e.g.) (After hearing a funny or ridiculous story) Ukeru! → That’s so funny!

Umai (adj)

You may recognize this word if you like watching Japanese TV shows. Umai means “skilled” or “good” (at doing something). But used colloquially, it can also mean “delicious”, synonymous with “oishii”. This is why you will often hear celebrities doing food reviews on TV often repeating this word.

e.g.) (After taking a slurp of ramen) Ah, umai! → Delicious!

Slangs tend to come and go, but these 5 slangs have always been popular and they are bound to be useful in informal settings. Master these terms and not only will you impress your friends, but you will also allow yourself to fully immerse in Japanese culture.