Japanese - English Wordlist
This is an evergrowing list of words and expressions that are used in anime, manga and related newsgroups and webpages. The intention of this list is to provide a guide for all who is new to the world of anime and manga. It is NOT my intention to create a complete dictionary. I have only a limited amount of time I can spend on this list and my knowledge of Japanese is far from perfect. Therefor I will only list the most common uses of the items in this list. Where applicable I will include an example of the usage in an anime or manga series. If it is a series-related item I will probably only explain the usage in that particular series. A series item will have the name of the series in brackects behind it.
Dangerous, close, critical, "Watch out!!"... Expression used to warn someone of an impending danger. In most cases the person for who the warning is destined, isn't aware of the danger. In English people would use: "Watch out!!", "Look out!!", "Get out out of the way!!".
Love, together, accomplice, ... "Ai" has several uses depending on its kanji writing. If you only have the kana writing you'll have to look at the context to determine the correct translation. [Sailor Moon]: "Aino Minako" although it is a name literally means Minako of love.
Devil, demon, satan.... Can also be used to refer to a living thing, much as the English would say: "You devil"
Thank you. Used to express gratitude after the speaker has recieved something. This can either be an object or a favor of some sort. In informal speach this is often abbreviated to "arigatou". In formal speach "Domo arigatou gozaimasu" is used.
A part-time job. Comes from the German word "Arbeit" (:work).
That place, over there. Careful, it can also be used to refer to ones genitals.
I. Used by female speakers to emphasize their femininity.
Idiot. If you want to insult someone you will most likely use this word. Although in Occidental eyes, the translation as "Idiot" may seem rather lame compared to English equivalents such as "asshole", in Japan where personal intelligence is highly valued calling someone an "idiot" is a serious insult. Use Baka wisely.
That's crazy!, That's impossible!, That's unbelievable! This expression is used when the speaker cannot believe his or her eyes or ears. See also "Uso".
A (malevolent) ghost, spirit or monster.. [Mimi wo sumaseba]: Seiji called the cat Moon, a "bakeneko", a spirit cat, because of its sometimes unusal behaviour.
Hurrah, Long life, Cheers. Banzai literally means "Ten thousand years".
Rose. "Versailles no bara" translates as "Rose of Versailles", the Japanese name of the TV series known in France as "Lady Oscar".
Beautiful woman. Can be used both to refer to or address a woman. English equivalents would be "beauty" or "babe". The latter is used in the positive sense.
Beautiful girl. [Sailor Moon]: "Bishoujou Senshi Sailor Moon" means Beautiful Girl Warrior Sailor Moon.
I. Used by male speakers.
My <noun>. But is is used by men only. However there are exceptions. [Sailor Moon]: Haruka (Sailor Uranus) uses this to emphasize her masculinity. [Ranma 1/2]: Ranma-chan also uses it regularly but that is because "she" is in reality a "he".
A diminutive suffix attached to a female person's name. Used only in informal speech e.g. among close friends or family. [Sailor Moon]: The other senshi refer to Minako as Minako-chan. It is also used to address or refer to a female person who is younger and/or has a lower status than the speaker. In some cases it is also used to refer to a male person. [Kimagure Orange Road]: Kurumi calls her elder(!) brother "Oniichan" which indicates that she hasn't that much respect for him. See also Kun.
To differ from, "It isn't". Chigau is a more gentle way to contradict a person. It is not as abrupt as saying: "You are wrong" in English.
a short time, a little. When used on its own it means "Just a minute!" in the sense of "Stop it!" or "Hold it right there!".
All right, OK. Can be used both as a question and an answer. "Daijoubo? Hai, Daijoubu." Are you OK? Yes, I'm OK.
No good, useless, impermissable, unacceptable. A common expression to indicate that something is either useless or impermissable is "Dame da"
Who. "Dare da?" translates as: "Who is there?".
Thank you. Used in formal speech. In informal speech abbriviated to "Domo arigatou" or simply "Domo".
Lewd, indecent, H. "Ecchi" is the pronounciation of the letter "H" which is the first letter of Hentai. Ecchi is more mildly than hentai. It can be used in a more positive sense by a girl. Mostly when she has feelings for the boy in question and/or in a situation where "she only defends herself with words" if you know what I mean ^_^.
Unclean, dirty. [Shin Seiki Evangelion]: Maya's comment when Misato and Kaiji are found in an elevator in a, <ahem>, compromising position.
Clothes, good fortune, ... . "Fuku" has many uses depending on its kanji writing. If you only have the kana writing you'll have to look at the context to determine the correct translation. However, I must say that until now I haven't seen a case where it meant something different than "clothes".
Abbreviation for Game Center Crown. The place run by Motoki where the senshi tend to hang around in their free time, especially Usagi and Minako. In the manga their headquarters is under the Gesen.
Yes. Used in normal and formal speech. See also Un.
Nice to meet you. Literally: "I meet you for the first time." This is expression is used in normal and polite speech when people meet for the first time. A more informal variant is Yoroshiku.
Pervert. See also Ecchi.
Day, fire, flame, sun, light, spoon, ice, ... "Hi" has many uses depending on its kanji writing. If you only have the kana writing you'll have to look at the context to determine the correct translation. [Slayers]: "Ano hi", the times that Lynna can't cast any spells, means That time of the month. [Sailor Moon]: "Hino Rei" although it is a name literally means Rei of fire.
Awful. Can also be used on its own as an exclamation.
Light. [Slayers]: "Hikari no Ken" is the Sword of Light.
Star. [Captain Harlock, Queen Emeraldas, GE 999]: "Hoshi no umi" translates as "Sea of stars", one of the most beautiful metaphors I ever encountered in a series.
Ouch!, That hurt!, painful. Used when the speaker feels sudden pain of some sort.
Welcome. This standard welcome phrase is said to all costumers when they enter the store/restaurant/kissaten/...
A joke!, I'm just kidding. Can also be used as an expression of disbelief: "You've got to be joking!"
A God. However, if one refers to or addresses "God", the honorific "-sama" is attached to it. Hence Kami-sama.
Captain. Used to address the commander of a warship. See also Teichyou.
Cute. Don't mix it up with Kowai.
Tree, yellow, table, mood, raw, chest, ... "Ki" has many uses depending on its kanji writing. If you only have the kana writing you'll have to look at the context to determine the correct translation. [Sailor Moon]: "Kino Makoto" although it is a name literally means Makoto of the tree.
Here, this place. Used to refer to a place which is closer to the speaker than to the listener.
Good evening. Standard greeting in the evening. Keep in mind that the actual spelling is "konban ha".
Hello, Good day. Standard greeting. Keep in mind that the actual spelling is "konnichi ha".
Lightspeed. [Gall Force]: "Kousoku drive": lightspeed drive.
Scary, frightful. Can also be used on its own to indicate that one is affraid. [Sailor Stars]: When little Hotaru is menaced by the malevolent reflection of Neherenia she says "Kowai". She used it to indicate she was affraid although she didn't say it to anyone in particular. Don't mix it up with Kawaii.
A diminutive suffix attached to a male person's name. Used only in informal speech e.g. among close friends or family. [Kimagure Orange Road]: Madoka addresses Kyousuke as Kasuga-kun. The fact that she uses his family name in combination with kun is an indication that although they are close she keeps a certain distance by using his family name. [Shin Seiki Evangelion]: Rei refers to Shinji as Ikari-kun for the same reasons. Colleagues at work may also use the combination <family name>-kun. It is also used to address or refer to a male person who is younger and/or has a lower status than the speaker. In some cases it is also used to refer to a female person. [Ranma 1/2]: On at least one occasion Genma addressed Nabiki as Nabiki-kun. See also Chan.
Magic, sorcery, witchcraft.
Magician, sorcerer, witch.
Demon, devil, ghost.
It can't be!. Expression of disbelief.
See you. Literally: "Again, ok?"
A Goddess (any goddess). If one refers to or addresses a goddess the honorific "-sama" is attached to it.
Everyone, everybody. Used to refer to or to address a group of people.
Water. [Sailor Moon]: "Mizuno Ami" although it is a name literally means Ami of water.
Ghost, spirit, monster. See my Mononoke Hime FAQ for more details.
Already, soon, also, ... . The particle mo can have a lot of meanings depending on the context. Used on its own, at the beginning or more rarely at the end of a sentence, it is an expression of frustration. Mostly used by women. It is difficult to translate directly. An English equivalent could be: "That's enough!" or "I have had enough of this!"
Easy, trifling, "Not at all". Often used as a reply on some kind of personal compliment.
What?, What the ... Regularly used as an expression of surprise.
I see. Expression used when the speaker realizes that something is so.
Good morning. Standard greeting used by people when they meet for the first time in the morning at home, on the way to work or school or as the working day begins. Bar hostesses will use this to greet eachother as they come to work in the evening. In informal speech it is abbreviated to "Ohayo".
Die-hard fan, nerd. In Western Europe and the US some people call themselves, with a certain pride, "otaku" to indicate that they are anime fans. In Japan however otaku has not only a broader meaning but it is also used in a negative sense. In Japan, an otaku is a social outcast, a pariah. A loner with a certain obsession for which he sacrifices everything else. That obsession can be anime and/or manga but it can also be something else like cars, an idol singer, a photo model, an theatre performer, a sportsman, ... . Take an idol singer otaku for example. He must absolutely have everything that is related to her. He must also know everything about her, even the smallest details such as to which elementary school she went when she was still a kid. It is like a fever, he can hardly talk or think about anything else. Nothing else really matters. He has little or no friends. If he is lucky he finds a partner that shares or at least tolerates his obsession. He will meet with fellow otaku on a regular basis and they will try to beat eachother with the size of their collection and the extent of their knowledge. Occidental examples of otakus can be found, for example, among the Trekkies (fans of Star Trek). Now don't get me wrong here! I am not saying that all Star Trek fans are otakus. Only Trekkies that fit the description above are. I personally like Star Trek, but I just watch the series, nothing more. I'm not really interested in Marina Sirtis's favorite colour or Jennifer Liens's measurements, I don't have a Starfleet uniform and I don't speak Klingon. One last thing: otaku aren't just men. There are female otaku as well.
A Japanese vertical pinball game. One can write an entire book about Pachinko (and lots of people have). In short: for the Japanese it is more than just a pinball game. By concentrating on the flickering lights, the little balls as they fall down into the machine and the sounds, the player can get into some sort of meditational trance much like monks and priests when they are meditating in a shrine. Characters in anime and manga series are sometimes seen playing pachinko when they are troubled by something or when they are in some kind of emotional dip. By playing pachinko they try to regain their inner balance and gather the emotional strength to resolve or at least face their problem.
Ronin. A samurai without a master. At present day it is also used for a student who flunk his entrance exam and is waiting for another chance to get into a university.
OK, understood. Reply to a message or order to indicate that it is understood. English equivalent is "Roger!".
Mr or Mrs. Suffix attached to a person's name. Used in normal polite speech among equals.
Mr or Mrs (very polite). Suffix attached to a person's name. Used in formal speech and/or to refer to someone who has clearly a very high status.
Goodbye, farewell. Remark: correct pronounciation is "sayoonara" instead of "sayonaara".
Senior, elder. Used to address or refer to a person who
has a higher status in a hierarchical structure. At school this is a an
upperclassman. [Kimagure Orange Road]: Aside from "Darling", Hikaru
also uses the term "Senpai" when talking to or about Kyousuke because
he is older and in a higher class than her.
Remark: senpai is actually pronounced "sempai".
Girl or girl-related item. Shoujo manga are manga for girls.
Boy or boy-related item. Shounen manga are manga for boys.
Warrior, Soldier. [Sailor Moon]: "Sailor Senshi" translates as Sailor Soldier. "Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon" means Beautiful Girl Warrior Sailor Moon.
There, that place. Used to refer to a place which is closer to the listener than to the speaker.
Amazing, wonderful, great, awful, dreadful. Expresses amazement about someone's accomplishment or talent. This word can be used both in positive and negative sense depending on the person one is talking about. If it is a friend's talent one is describing it would be: "He is great!". If it is arival or an enemy it would carry a certain dread like: "He is awfully good!"
Fondness, liking. Correct translation depends on the
context. When talking about objects or food it can be translated as eg: "I
like/love ice cream.". When talking about a person it tends more to
"like" than to "love".
To express love between two people "Daisuki" is used. This literally translates as "Big liking". More common translations are: "to like a lot" or "to love/fall in love". [Kimagure Orange Road]: At the end of the manga series, Madoka asks Kyousuke if he likes her or loves her. Kyousuke assures her it is the latter. So there is indeed a world of difference between these two words.
Lovely, beautiful, fanatstic, great, superb. Used to express
admiration about the physical appearance, rather than some inner talent as with
Sugoi although the two are
perfectly interchangeable. Women tend to use it more than man.
Remark: The "u" in suteki is a whispered vowel so it is actually pronounced "steki".
Help!, Save me!, Spare my/his life.
Captain, commander. See also Kanchyou
Moon, luck, ... "Tsuki" has several uses depending on its kanji writing. If you only have the kana writing you'll have to look at the context to determine the correct translation. [Sailor Moon]: "Tsukino Usagi" although it is a name literally means Rabbit of the Moon.
Sea. [Captain Harlock, Queen Emeraldas, GE 999]: "Hoshi no umi" translates as "Sea of stars", one of the most beautiful metaphors I ever encountered in a series.
Yes, yeah, uhuh. Used in informal speech. See also Hai.
Happy, glad. It is often used on its own as an exclamation to indicate that the speaker is happy.
Noisy, loud.. Used on its own (often yelled) the speaker indicates that there is too much noise and demands implicitly silence. So the English translation of Urusai would be: "Silence!"
Rabbit. [Sailor Moon]: Sailor Moon's real name is Tsukino Usagi which means "Rabbit of the Moon". This explains the multiple references to rabbits troughout the anime and manga.
Impossible!, It can't be!, Literally: a lie! This expression is used when the speaker cannot believe his or her eyes or ears. See also "Baka na". However, it can also mean what it literally is: a lie so "Uso da" translates as That is a lie. So the correct translation depends on the context.
I. Neutral, can be used by both men and women.
Just as I thought! I knew it! Often used as an exclamation to oneself or to others when the speaker's suspicions prove to be correct.
All right! Expression of victory. Used when a certain action or plan has succeeded although there was at the start some doubt that it would.
I'm glad, Phew. Expression of relief. Mostly used when the speaker was worried about someone or something and everything turns out to be OK.
Hi / Nice to meet you. Informal greeting when people meet for the first time. A more formal variant is Hajimemashite.
A (malevolent) ghost. Often used in Sailor Moon series