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
- Wakamono Kotoba (Japanese Teen Slang)
- Slang Used Daily
- Top 10 Trend Words In 2022
- Slang Used to Express Like and Love
- Other Teen Slang to Keep in Mind
"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.
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.
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.
Kono hanbaaga, oishisugite yabai.
- Oh my god, this burger tastes amazing.
2) When something is really great.
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.
Shukudai no shimekiri ga yabai.
- Oh my god, my homework is due soon!
「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.
Kyou no fuku, dasakunai?
- Your outfit today looks lame.
Otoshiyori ni yasashikunai nante dasai.
- It's not cool to be unkind to elderly.
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.
Natto ni sato wo ireru nante kimoi.
- Putting sugar into natto is gross.
Heya no naka ni kimoi mushi ga ita.
- There was a gross insect in the room.
「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.
Kasa wo nusumarete mukatsuku.
- My umbrella was stolen and I'm annoyed.
I ga mukatsuku. (“Onaka no choushi ga warui” in non-slang Japanese)
- My stomach isn't feeling well.
「ウケる ukeru」is used to express something that makes you laugh.
(When someone says something funny) Ukeru ne！
- That's hilarious.
Kinou no terebi mechakucha uketa.
- The TV show yesterday was so funny.
「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.
Ano anime no tekitte uzai yone?
- Isn't the villain in that anime annoying?
Sukina ko ni takusann hanashi kaketara uzagarareta.
- I talked too much to my crush and she was annoyed.
「マジ maji」means “seriously”. It can also be used before adjectives to express the degree.
- That's seriously cool.
- You serious?
It's also sometimes used with a single character 「マ ma」 . This expression is only used in question form.
Ano futari ga tsukiattetatte ma?
- Are you seriously telling me those 2 dated?
Imakara nukiuchi tesutotte ma?
- Are we seriously having a surprise test now?
So ma? Shinjirarenain dakedo.
- Seriously? I can't believe it.
「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.
Nebou shitakedo wanchan itsumono basu ni maniau.
- I overslept but I think I have a chance of making my usual bus.
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.
Benkyou shitakedo wanchan akaten kamoshirenai.
- I studied but there’s still a slight chance I might fail.
「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.
Kono shosetsu no naiyou wa emoi.
- This novel is touching.
Emoi fuukei wo nagamenagara monoomoi ni fukeru.
- While looking at the beautiful scenery, I got lost in thought.
Ano raibu no enshutsu wa emokatta.
- That live performance was beautiful.
「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.
Shiranai kotoba wo gugutta.
- I googled words I didn't know.
Mazu wa jibunde gugutte miyou.
- First, google it yourself.
「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.
Jidori ga moreta.
- My selfie came out great.
Moretenai shashin wa sakujo shita.
- I deleted all the photos that turned out bad.
「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.
Ranchi wa baeru mono ga tabetai.
- I want to eat something that will look nice in photos for the gram.
Insta-bae suru keshiki
- scenery that looks beautiful (on Instagram)
「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.
Riajuu ni narimashita.
- I have a boyfriend/girlfriend now.
Orette hi-riajuu dakara.
- I'm single (not riajuu).
「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.
- Great work at your part time job.
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 article “15 Recommendations for Learning Japanese with Anime”.
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.
「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."
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」.
「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?".
「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.
Omosihro sugite kusa.
- That's hilarious.
Sore wa kusa haeru.
- That's funny.
Muchaburi de kusa.
- That's reckless lol.
「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.
「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
Taichou wa daijoubu so?
- Are you feeling well?
Yotei wa daijoubu so?
- Is your schedule free (for this event I’m inviting you to)?
So it’s a slang phrase used frequently.
This means the same as the 1st trending word - awkward.
「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.
Ashita no shigoto shindo.
- Work tomorrow is going to be tiring.
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.
"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.
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.
Tomodachi kara oshietemoratta bando wo sukoru
- I've started to like the band my friend introduced me to.
Motto kono manga wo sukoreyo.
- Like this manga more.
"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.
Hanagara no magukappu wo moratte kyun desu.
- I received a cup with a floral design and I'm happy.
Kaineko ni kyun desu.
- My cat is so cute!
Tetsudatte moraete kyun desu.
- Thank you for helping me.
「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.
Ashita wa sukipi to de-to no hi da.
- I have a date with my crush tomorrow.
Sukipi to asobu no tanoshii.
- It's fun to hang out with my crush.
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.)
"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」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.
Pafe shika katan.
- Parfait is the best.
Oshi shika katan.
- My oshi is the best.
Neko shika katan.
- Cats are the best.
「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."
Kyou mo oshi ga toutoi.
- My oshi is shining bright again today.
Shujinkou to hiroin no kankei ga toutoi.
- The relationship between the hero and heroine is admirable and ideal.
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.
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」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.
Shukudai wasurete pien.
- I forgot my homework 🥺
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」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.
11ji ni shibuya eki de machiawase ne. Ryo.
- We’re meeting up in Shibuya at 11 o’clock? OK.
「チルい chirui」is slang used to mean relaxing or in a calm state. It comes from the English phrase「to chill out」.
Chirui kyoku wo kiku.
- Listening to a chill/calm song.
Kono mae chirui kafe ni ittekita.
- I went to a cafe the other day that was relaxing.
Umi ni yuuhi ga shizundeiku koukei wa chirui.
- The view of sunset from the beach is relaxing.
「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.
Kareshi ni uwaki sarete heraru.
- My boyfriend cheated on me and I'm depressed.
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」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.
Hima sae areba egosa suru.
- I look myself up online when I'm bored.
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」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."
- Let's just go home for now.
Torima gohan tabeni ikou.
- Let’s just grab some food first.
Torima atode kangaeruwa.
- I'll think about it later.
「～～み ~~mi」is attached to an adjective. For example, like 「よさみ yosami」「やばみ yabami」and「わかりみ wakarimi」.
Sono kangae wa wakarimi ga fukai.
- I fully agree with your thoughts.
Ano miseno pasuta wa oishisugite yabami.
- That restaurant's pasta tastes so good it’s insane.
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」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 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.
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.