40 Japanese Slang Words to Know in 2022

WeXpats
2022/08/26

Among Japanese teens, words like "Sorena '' and "Emoi '' are used frequently in their daily lives. Many Japanese slang words are very different from the Japanese we learn from textbooks, which makes non-native speakers confused. In this article, we will be introducing you to 40 slang words and phrases that are used today in Japan, with examples!!


Table of Contents

  1. Wakamono Kotoba (Japanese Teen Slang)
  2. Slang Used Daily
  3. Top 10 Trend Words In 2022
  4. Slang Used to Express Like and Love
  5. Other Teen Slang to Keep in Mind 
  6. Summary

Wakamono Kotoba (Japanese Teen Slang)

"Wakamono Kotoba" meaning Japanese teen slang is used by young people aging from junior high to high school students. Japanese slang mostly reflects the trends and social conditions in Japan. "Wakamono Kotoba" trends are mostly started or spread by comedians, influencers, and anime characters. In recent years, trending words appear and disappear quickly due to the growth of the internet.

Using "Wakamono Kotoba" towards the elderly or a superior is rude, so be sure to use it towards someone you can talk casually with.

In the article,  "Introducing the 5 Types of Keigo, Everyday Keigo to Memorise and Keigo that Japanese Have Trouble With", we introduce words and phrases that are used towards superiors and the elderly. 

Japanese Slang Used Daily

First, we will be introducing you to some basic Japanese Slang. If you are a beginner on using Japanese or Japanese Slang this is where you should start.  

『やばい』(yabai)

The word 「やばい yabai」 is a word that is similar to "Oh my god" and has 3 ways it can be used: 

1) When something is really bad or terrible.

「このハンバーガー、おいしすぎてヤバイ」
Kono hanbaaga, oishisugite yabai.
- Oh my god, this burger tastes amazing.

2) When something is really great.

「このハンバーガー、マズすぎてヤバイ!」
Kono hanbaga, mazusugite yabai!
- Oh my god, this burger tastes disgusting!

3) When you're in a dangerous/bad situation or in need of help.

「宿題の締め切りがヤバイ」
Shukudai no shimekiri ga yabai.
- Oh my god, my homework is due soon

『ダサイ』(dasai)

「ダサい dasai」means ugly or uncool. It doesn’t only refer to fashion or looks but also things that aren’t visible like thoughts and statements.

「今日の服、ダサくない?」
Kyou no fuku, dasakunai?
- Your outfit today looks lame.

「お年寄りに優しくしないなんてダサい」
Otoshiyori ni yasashikunai nante dasai.
- It's not cool to be unkind to elderly.

『キモイ』(kimoi)

The word 「キモい kimoi」 is from the word 「きもちわるい kimochiwarui」used when expressing disgust. It can be used for anything, including people, insects, and food. When using it towards someone, it could hurt their feelings so be cautious when using it. 

「納豆に砂糖をいれるなんてキモい」
Natto ni sato wo ireru nante kimoi.
- Putting sugar into natto is gross.

「部屋の中にキモい虫がいた」
Heya no naka ni kimoi mushi ga ita.
- There was a gross insect in the room.

『ムカつく』(mukatsuku)

「ムカつく mukatsuku」is a word to describe being irritated. This word is based on the onomatopoeia「むかむか mukamuka」and is also used when your stomach and digestive system are not feeling well. In the old days, the Japanese believed that anger came from the stomach.

「傘を盗まれてムカつく」
Kasa wo nusumarete mukatsuku.
- My umbrella was stolen and I'm annoyed.

「胃がムカつく(お腹の調子が悪い)」
I ga mukatsuku. (“Onaka no choushi ga warui” in non-slang Japanese)
- My stomach isn't feeling well.

『ウケる』(ukeru)

「ウケる ukeru」is used to express something that makes you laugh.

「(相手の面白い発言に対して)ウケるね!」
(When someone says something funny) Ukeru ne!
- That's hilarious.

「昨日のテレビめちゃくちゃウケた」
Kinou no terebi mechakucha uketa.
- The TV show yesterday was so funny.

『ウザい』(uzai)

「ウザい uzai」is used to express displeasure or annoyance towards another person. It is sometimes used between close friends as a joke but remember that by using it, it may hurt someone's feelings as well. 

「あのアニメの敵ってウザいよね?」
Ano anime no tekitte uzai yone?
- Isn't the villain in that anime annoying?

「好きな子にたくさん話しかけたらウザがられた」
Sukina ko ni takusann hanashi kaketara uzagarareta.
- I talked too much to my crush and she was annoyed.

『マジ』(maji)

「マジ maji」means “seriously”. It can also be used before adjectives to express the degree.

「マジかっこいい」
Maji kakkoii.
- That's seriously cool.

「それマジ?」
Sore maji?
- You serious?

It's also sometimes used with a single character 「マ ma」 . This expression is only used in question form. 

「あの2人が付き合ってたってマ?」
Ano futari ga tsukiattetatte ma?
- Are you seriously telling me those 2 dated?

「今から抜き打ちテストってマ?」
Imakara nukiuchi tesutotte ma?
- Are we seriously having a surprise test now?

「そマ?信じられないんだけど」
So ma? Shinjirarenain dakedo.
- Seriously? I can't believe it.

『ワンチャン』(wanchan)

「ワンチャン wanchan」is a word taken from “one chance”. Although it’s from English, the meaning differs slightly. In Japanese "wanchan" is used when there is a possibility of success to something. This phrase used by teens「ワンチャンあるよ Wanchan aruyo」means "You have a chance! Good luck!" as well.

「寝坊したけどワンチャンいつものバスに間に合う」
Nebou shitakedo wanchan itsumono basu ni maniau.
- I overslept but I think I have a chance of making my usual bus. 

「好きな人が彼女と別れたので、ワンチャン狙える」
Sukinahito ga kanojo to wakareta node, wanchan neraeru.
- My crush broke up with his girlfriend so I might have a chance.

Unlike before, these days "wanchan" is not only used in positive situations. It is sometimes used at times where there is a very slight possibility of something bad happening.

「勉強したけどワンチャン赤点かもしれない」
Benkyou shitakedo wanchan akaten kamoshirenai.
- I studied but there’s still a slight chance I might fail.

『エモい』(emoi)

「エモい」is a difficult word to define as it’s used by Japanese people intuitively. It is originally from the English word "emotional" and is used when people feel moved. Examples of situations when people use “emoi” are when you see beautiful scenery, someone who looks really attractive, friendships between anime characters, etc. 

「この小説の内容はエモい」
Kono shosetsu no naiyou wa emoi.
- This novel is touching.

「エモい風景を眺めながら物思いにふける」
Emoi fuukei wo nagamenagara monoomoi ni fukeru.
- While looking at the beautiful scenery, I got lost in thought.

「あのライブの演出はエモかった」
Ano raibu no enshutsu wa emokatta.
- That live performance was beautiful.

『ググる』(guguru)

「ググる」is a word that came from a Japanese phrase「Googleで検索する Google de kensaku suru」- look it up on Google. When communicating on the internet, it’s considered good manners to google things yourself before asking a question.

「知らない言葉をググった」
Shiranai kotoba wo gugutta.
- I googled words I didn't know.

「まずは自分でググってみよう」
Mazu wa jibunde gugutte miyou.
- First, google it yourself. 

 『盛れる』(moreru)

「盛れる moreru」is used when photos turn out great. People use it especially when taking photos of themselves and they turn out cute or cool.

「自撮りが盛れた」
Jidori ga moreta.
- My selfie came out great.

「盛れてない写真は削除した」
Moretenai shashin wa sakujo shita.
- I deleted all the photos that turned out bad.

『映える』(baeru)

「映える baeru」is an expression used for things that are likely to be “liked” if you post a photo on Instagram, such as beautiful scenery and delicious food. Originally, people used 「インスタ映え Insta-bae」(pronounced "ba-e" not "bay" like the English slang) but it was shortened to the current form.

「ランチは映えるものが食べたい」
Ranchi wa baeru mono ga tabetai.
- I want to eat something that will look nice in photos for the gram.

「インスタ映えする景色」
Insta-bae suru keshiki
- scenery that looks beautiful (on Instagram)

『リア充』(riajuu)

「リア充 riajuu」means that your “real life” (as opposed to online life) is fulfilling. Before, it was simply used to point out that you're not single, but recently people say being in a romantic relationship isn't the only reason to have a fulfilling life.

「リア充になりました」
Riajuu ni narimashita.
- I have a boyfriend/girlfriend now.

「俺って非リア充だから」
Orette hi-riajuu dakara.
- I'm single (not riajuu).

『乙』(Otsu)

「乙 otsu」 is from the word「おつかれさま otsukaresama」meaning "good work today" or "good job getting it done". It is used not only when appreciating someone, but also simply as a farewell greeting.

「バイト乙」
Baito otsu.
- Great work at your part time job. 

「乙です
Otsu desu.
- Bye.

「自慢乙」
Jiman otsu.
- Showoff.

It is usually used when appreciating someone but sometimes used with sarcasm. For example「自慢乙 jiman otsu」is used with sarcasm. This can be rude or misunderstood so only use it sarcastically with friends you can joke around with.

『w』(warai / kusa)

This is slang based on the word 「笑い warai」.  It is taken from the first letter of "warai."

People will simply type ”w” (it’s like using “lol”) and sometimes use a row like "wwwwwwww" to show how loud you laugh or how funny you found the situation. It is also called 「草 kusa」 because it looks like grass or weeds - called kusa in Japanese - growing in a row. 

If you are studying Japanese used by teens, a great way to study it is by checking social media, manga, anime, etc. 

For anime recommendations, check out our article15 Recommendations for Learning Japanese with Anime.

Top 10 Japanese Trend Words In 2022

Here are the top 10 latest slang words and phrases for 2022 selected by 1139 Japanese people in their teens and early twenties (according to Nom de plume). These are expressions that are becoming trendy right now, and if you include them in conversations with young people, they will be surprised and impressed (if these phrases aren’t already considered old by the time you use them!). Recent slang is often from YouTube and Tiktok so if you're not familiar with Japanese pop culture, it might be a little hard to understand what the slang means.

1st 『きまZ』(kimazetto)

「きまZ kimazetto」is from the Japanese word 「気まずい kimazui」meaning “awkward”. This word trended with a pose making the letter “Z” using both hands. (Z is pronouced “zetto” or “zeddo” in Japanese.)

This trend started from Japanese Youtubers called「ウチら3姉妹」or "Uchira3shimai." 

2nd『ギャル』『ぎゃる』(gyaru)

This word came from the English word “gal” but in Japan, this word has various cultural aspects to it, including gyaru fashion, makeup, lifestyle, way of thinking and speaking, etc. This culture has been around but became more niche culture after its popularity died down after the first waves of gyaru culture. However, it’s making a strong comeback nowadays. 

3rd & 4th 『それ/それな』(sore/sorena)

These words are used when you agree with someone's statement.  Originally, 「それ sore」or "that" in Japanese is a pronoun corresponding to "it" and "so".「わたしもそう(それ)思います。Watashi mo sou (sore) omoimasu.」or ”I think so too” is the original sentence that was shortened to 「それ sore」.

5th『はにゃ?』(hanya?)

「はにゃ? Hanya?」is a word said when you have doubts. It is used with the intention of being silly or cute as well. The meaning is similar to "What?", "Hmm?", and "Uhh?".

6th『草』(kusa)

「草 kusa」is an expression that means laughter (See “w” above), and is mainly used on messaging apps and social media, but some people actually use it in conversation. It’s kind of like how some people say “lol” out loud. 

Originally, it was otaku slang used on anonymous forums on the internet, but recently it is commonly used among young people. 

「面白すぎて草」
Omosihro sugite kusa.
- That's hilarious

「それは草生える」
Sore wa kusa haeru.
- That's funny.

「むちゃぶりで草」
Muchaburi de kusa.
- That's reckless lol.

7th『あせあせ』(asease)

「あせあせ ase ase」is a word that expresses "a state of panic and sweating", as “ase” means “sweat” in Japanese. It can also mean a light apology, but only used between people who are close to each other.

8th『大丈夫そ?』(daijobuso?)

「大丈夫?Daijoubu?」means “Are you ok?”. Originally, the correct Japanese is to lengthen the ending of the question to「大丈夫そう?」"Daijoubu sou?" but it is a recent trend to shorten it to「大丈夫そ?」"Daijyoubu so?".

You can use it in different situations like 

「体調は大丈夫そ?」
Taichou wa daijoubu so?
- Are you feeling well?

「予定は大丈夫そ?」
Yotei wa daijoubu so?
- Is your schedule free (for this event I’m inviting you to)?

So it’s a slang phrase used frequently. 

9th『きまず』(kimazu)

This means the same as the 1st trending word - awkward.

10th『しんど』(shindo)

「しんど shindo」is used to express tiredness. It can be used for both mental and physical tiredness. Also, even if you are not tired now, you can use it privately when you are waiting for an event that will make you tired in the future.

「明日の仕事しんど」
Ashita no shigoto shindo.
- Work tomorrow is going to be tiring.

Slang Used to Express Like and Love

There are many slang terms that can be used to describe things you like, such as your lover, the person you’re a fan of, or your favorite food. These expressions are often used between otaku, so if you like Japanese anime or celebrities, you might have a chance to use it.

『すこ』(suko)

"Suko" is slang for "like". It was used by people who like anime, manga, etc. but it’s spread to middle and high school students, and is now used as slang. "Suko" is also used on social media, video streaming sites, and online forums. It can be said that it’s used by a relatively wide range of generations among young people.

「このアイドルすこ」
Kono aidoru suko.
- I like this idol.

The derivative word 「すこる sukoru」 means to "start to like" and 「すこれ sukore」is used when you want someone to like something

「友だちから教えてもらったバンドをすこる」
Tomodachi kara oshietemoratta bando wo sukoru
- I've started to like the band my friend introduced me to.

「もっとこの漫画をすこれよ」
Motto kono manga wo sukoreyo.
- Like this manga more.

『きゅんです』(kyun desu)

"Kyundesu" is slang that means "like", "cute", and "heart fluttering", and is used in situations to convey gratitude and joy. It is said to have spread from TikTok.

「花柄のマグカップをもらってきゅんです」
Hanagara no magukappu wo moratte kyun desu.
- I received a cup with a floral design and I'm happy.

「飼い猫にきゅんです」
Kaineko ni kyun desu.
- My cat is so cute!

「手伝ってもらえてきゅんです」
Tetsudatte moraete kyun desu.
- Thank you for helping me. 

『ピ』(pi)

「ピ pi」 is a word to describe your crush. It comes from the first letter of the English word “person”. It is most used for 「好きピ sukipi」meaning someone you have a crush on and 「彼ピ karepi」meaning boyfriend. 

「明日は好きピとデートの日だ」
Ashita wa sukipi to de-to no hi da.
- I have a date with my crush tomorrow.

「好きピと遊ぶのは楽しい」
Sukipi to asobu no tanoshii.
- It's fun to hang out with my crush.

「この人が私の好きピです」
Kono hito watashi no sukipi desu.
- This is my crush.

Note: 「彼ピッピ kare pippi」is a word used to describe someone who is more than a friend but not yet a boyfriend. (This distinction is not that clear even among Japanese people.)

『推し』(oshi)

"Oshi" is a word that means "a person you like and support". This started mostly in the idol and anime otaku culture. (Idol fans from other countries may know the word “bias” used similarly.) It has a strong nuance of "I'm rooting for you as a fan," and is not often used for a person you’re romantically involved with.

Some people 「推す osu」or become fans of real-life celebrities, while others 「推す osu」anime characters. There are also derived words such as 「最推し saioshi」meaning the person you are rooting the most,「箱推し hako oshi」meaning to root for or like the whole group as opposed to having a favorite member.

『~しか勝たん』(~shika katan)

「~しか勝たん ~shika katan」means “~ is the best”. It is used to praise your "oshi". Replace 「~」 with the name of a person or thing you like. If you like Japanese celebrities or anime, this is slang you might want to remember.

「パフェしか勝たん」
Pafe shika katan.
- Parfait is the best.

「推ししか勝たん」
Oshi shika katan.
- My oshi is the best.

「猫しか勝たん」
Neko shika katan.
- Cats are the best.

『尊い』(toutoi)

「尊い toutoi」is slang for the utmost admiration. The word was originally used by people who liked Japanese subculture such as anime and manga, and is said to have spread to young people through social media.

This is also often used for "oshi". When you say「推しが尊い Oshi ga toutoi」 it means "the person I like is so impressive and wonderful that he/she is shining bright."

「今日も推しが尊い」
Kyou mo oshi ga toutoi.
- My oshi is shining bright again today.

「主人公とヒロインの関係性が尊い」
Shujinkou to hiroin no kankei ga toutoi.
- The relationship between the hero and heroine is admirable and ideal.

「あまりにも尊い作品だった」
Amari nimo toutoi sakuhin datta.
- It was such a wonderful piece of work.

Derived words like 「てぇてぇ Te- Te-」「尊死(とおとし)totoshi」are also used in conversations between otaku. 

In addition, the word 「尊い toutoi」is not just slang but a commonly used Japanese word as well, meaning "precious", "high value", "grateful", etc.

Other Teen Slang to Keep in Mind

『マジ卍』(maji manji)

The meaning of "maji manji" is not clearly defined. It is often used to express positive emotions, such as being in a state of high spirits.

Note: The 卍 (swastika) is a Buddhist symbol and is different from Nazi symbol Hakenkreuz.

『ぴえん』(pien)

「ぴえん pien」is internet slang for the crying emoji 🥺. It is used to express sadness in a cute or humorous way. It’s similar to when people say the word “crying emoji” out loud in a sentence.

「宿題忘れてぴえん」
Shukudai wasurete pien.
- I forgot my homework 🥺

「最近彼氏がかまってくれない。ぴえん」
Saikin kareshi ga kamatte kurenai. Pien.
- My boyfriend is acting cold towards me. 🥺

When someone is really sad, they’ll say 「ぴえんこえてぱおん Pien koete paon」which means something like “I’m so sad I’m paon instead of pien”. It sounds like gibberish if you have no idea what it means!

『りょ』(ryo)

「りょ ryo」is from the word「了解 ryokai」meaning “OK” or “I understand”.

It is used between close friends, and some even shorten the word to「り ri」for the same meaning.

「11時に渋谷駅で待ち合わせね。りょ」
11ji ni shibuya eki de machiawase ne. Ryo.
- We’re meeting up in Shibuya at 11 o’clock? OK.

『チルい』(chirui)

「チルい chirui」is slang used to mean relaxing or in a calm state. It comes from the English phrase「to chill out」.

「チルい曲を聞く」
Chirui kyoku wo kiku.
- Listening to a chill/calm song.

「この前チルいカフェに行ってきた」
Kono mae chirui kafe ni ittekita.
- I went to a cafe the other day that was relaxing.

「海に夕日が沈んでいく光景はチルい」
Umi ni yuuhi ga shizundeiku koukei wa chirui.
- The view of sunset from the beach is relaxing.

『ヘラる』(heraru)

「ヘラる heraru」is a slang word that refers to a state of being depressed or mentally tired. The origin of the word is「メンヘラ menhera」an abbreviation of “mental health”, which is also internet slang for people with poor mental health.

「彼氏に浮気されてヘラる」
Kareshi ni uwaki sarete heraru.
- My boyfriend cheated on me and I'm depressed.

「小さいことですぐにヘラるのは悪い癖だ」
Chiisai koto de suguni heraru nowa warui kuseda.
- Getting depressed over every little thing is a bad habit of mine.

「ヘラる heraru」has a negative meaning. However, many teens who actually use this word tend to use it with the same meaning as「だるい darui」and「めんどい mendoi」which means “troublesome”. To figure out which they mean, it’s better to look at their facial expressions, tone of voice, and the context.

『エゴサ』(egosa)

「エゴサ egosa」is from the Japanese word 「エゴサーチ ego search」which means “to look yourself up on the internet and social media”. 

On the other hand,「パブサ pabusa」from the word “public search” is used when you are looking up someone else. Be careful not to get them mixed up.

「暇さえあればエゴサする」
Hima sae areba egosa suru.
- I look myself up online when I'm bored.

「あの芸人はよくエゴサしてるらしい」
Ano geinin wa yoku egosa shiteru rashii.
- Apparently that comedian looks himself up online a lot. 

Most teenagers these days have smartphones, and they are constantly active on social media and video streaming sites and apps. Therefore, it seems that many people look themselves up because they care about how people see them online. It is slang also often used by people who are active in the entertainment industry as well as influencers.

『とりま』(torima)

「とりま torima」is a word that came from a phrase「とりあえず、まあ toriaezu, maa」.

By putting this in front of your sentence, you can convey something like "I want to postpone it for a while" or "I want to put my thoughts on hold."

「とりま帰るか」
Torima kaeruka.
- Let's just go home for now.

「とりまご飯食べに行こう」
Torima gohan tabeni ikou.
- Let’s just grab some food first.

「とりまあとで考えるわ」
Torima atode kangaeruwa.
- I'll think about it later.

『○○み』(~mi)

「~~み ~~mi」is attached to an adjective. For example, like 「よさみ yosami」「やばみ yabami」and「わかりみ wakarimi」.

「その考えは分かりみが深い」
Sono kangae wa wakarimi ga fukai.
- I fully agree with your thoughts.

「あの店のパスタはおいしすぎてやばみ」
Ano miseno pasuta wa oishisugite yabami.
- That restaurant's pasta tastes so good it’s insane.

「寝不足でつらみがある」
Nebusoku de tsurami ga aru.
- I'm suffering from lack of sleep.

The meaning itself is the same as the original word it’s attached to, but since the sound of "mi" is cute, many teens use it these days.

『あたおか』(ataoka)

「あたおか ataoka」is from the phrase「頭がおかしい atama ga okashii」meaning “You’re crazy”. When used towards people, it can be used to praise as well as criticize someone. It’s similar to 「やばい yabai」mentioned earlier in this article.

『陽キャ/陰キャ』(youkya/inkya)

「陽キャ youkya」means someone who is positive and bright, and 「陰キャ inkya」means a dark and negative person. It carries a slight cynical nuance that "Youkya" is better than "Inkya", and inkya sometimes use it in a self-deprecating way.

Summary

Teen slang words match the trends and context of the times, so they often become obsolete as the years go by. Some of the teen slang words introduced in this column will probably become「死語 shigo」- “dead words” or words no one uses - in a few years.

The most important thing in using slang is the relationship that you have with the other person. If you use them in conversations with other students, it could be a way to become close to someone new. 

But remember not to use them towards teachers and the elderly as it can be rude. Be sure to think about time and place when using them and also be cautious to only use them with someone you can joke around with. 

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