The Dictionary

Here are some frequent words that you hear in anime and in Japan. Anyone has more words to add please send them in I’ll be happy to add them. This also will help newbies with some words they hear in all anime.

Aho – Idoit, Fool.

Ai [ah-ee] – love. If a native speaker wanted to specify romantic love, he would use the character pronounced koi (or ren, depending on the context).

Akuma – The Devil.

Anime [annie-may] – ‘Anime can range from the very silly to the very serious, and is not necessarily intended for children or any specific age group.’- Michael Kim Animation as an industry is much bigger in Japan than it is in North America, being of the same order of magnitude as the ‘live-action’ film industry there. All genres are supported through three separate mediums: TV episodes, Original Video Animation (OVA), and full length feature films. While anime varies in quality according to both production techniques and artistic merit, the level of sophistication is, in general, far superior to it’s counterpart outside Japan, the ‘cartoon’.

Anou [ah-noh] – From the Japanese, meaning “say”. However, it could also be translated as the Japanese version of “errr” or “umm” in the English. A more polite, similar-sounding version (anone) can be used which means “excuse me”.

Appatto – Apartment, or older, run-down dwelling.

Arigatou [ah-ree-gah-to] – Thanks. The full formula is arigatou gozaimasu [go-chah-ee–mah-soo].

Arubaito – Part-time work or job.

Ayamare – Apologize

Bakemono [bah-keh-moh-noh] – From the Japanese, meaning “monster” or “mutant”.

Bangasa – Traditional rain umbrella, made of wood and oiled paper.

Banzai – Cheers, hurrah.

Baka [bah-kah]- “You’re stupid!” an all-purpose insult. Meaning stupid, idiot, etc. Depending on the tone used to express this could mean silly or retard.

Bento – Japanese-style boxed lunches, served cold. Often consists of rice and various side items arranged in a very visually appealing manner.

Bijin – vision, refers to thing of beauty.

Bishojo [bee-sho-jo] – Japanese for beautiful young girl.

Bishonen [bee-sho-nen] – Japanese for a handsome young boy.

Boke – Person who is senile, feeble-minded or weak-headed.

Bunka No Hi – Culture Day, November 3, a national holiday in Japan.

Bunraku – Japanese large-scale puppet theater. The puppets are operated by many people, and about 2/3 life size. The puppeteers are on the stage and not hidden during the show.

Cha – Japanese green tea.

Chigao – Not right, incorrect.

Chikuso [chee-kuu-soh] – From the Japanese, used to express frustration (like saying “damn” or “shit”).

Chisai – Small, Tiny.

Choppiri – Just a bit; small amount.

Chu – Middle or Innter.

Dame – No good, cannot, not allowed.

Daruma – A doll, which is used to make wish of life-time goal. When you get one, it has no eyes. When you set your goal, you paint in the eye on the left, and when you reach your goal, you paint in the right eye.

Dekita – A statement of completion or finishing some act or project, often used as an interjection.

Demo [deh-mo] – But, very commonly used.

Desu – “to be”

Deta – Emerge or appear.

Doki – Onomatopoeia for the stopping of one’s heart to surprise or shock.

DokiDoki – Onomatopoeia for the pounding of one’s heart to excitement or nervousness.

Domo [doh-moh] – From the Japanese, meaning “very much”.

Doshita – An interrogative, asking what is happening, or what is the matter.

Doshite [doh-shih-teh] – From the Japanese, meaning “why?” or “what do you mean?”

Dozi [doh-zee] – From the Japanese, literally meaning “klutz”.

Dozo – If you please; please proceed.

Ecchi [eh-chee] – The japanese pronunciation of the initial sound of hentai, or pervert, ecchi is a term used to describe lust-crazed teenage boys, panty fans or otherwise ‘pervy’ types. It’s milder than hentai–more disparaging than condemnatory in most circumstances.

Erai – Great, Awesome, hard-working or Difficult, tiring.

Esper – Another word for psychic, popular in the seventies and early eighties. You are most likely to run across it in American fanzines, synopses and critical writing of the early to mid eighties, where characters like Locke (Locke The Superman) and Justy (Cosmo Police Justy) are often referred to as ‘espers’.

Fugu – Puffer fish.

Gaikokujin or Gaijin [gah-ee-ko-koo-jeen] – Gaijin is the term normally used for foreigner; it means ‘strange person’, whereas gaikokujin is ‘person from another country’. Gaijin was popularised by William Gibson and other Western cyberpunk novelists in the eighties.

Gaki – A rug-rat; young, precocious, naughty child.

Gambatte [gahm-baht-teh] – From the Japanese, meaning “good luck”, “do your best”, “keep at it”, or anything equivalent. Usually said in order to provide encouragement or motivation to someone.

Ganbare – To endure, persist.

Ganjitsu – New Year’s Day, January 1st.

Gekiga – Japanese word for graphic novel.

Genki – Literally means energy, vigor, vitality or pep. A genki person is one who has lots of energy and is very cheerful.

Geta – Traditional Japanese footwear, consisting of a wooden sandal, with two parallel slats of wood running across the bottom to raise the feet above the ground.

Giku – Onomatapaeia for “oh-oh.” Much like, “Gulp!” in comic books.

Giri – Obligatory or obligation, esp. in context of gifts.

Giri-giri – Cut it close to the limit; be at the limits or bounds. A close shave.

Gomen Nasai [go-men nah-sah-ee] – I’m Sorry.

Hachimaki – A piece of cloth wrapped around the head, often adorned with a colorful mon or word. Used either symbolically to show resolve, or also to keep hair and sweat out of your eyes.

Hai [hah-ee] – Yes.

Hajimemashite [hah-jih-meh-mahsh-te] – From the Japanese, meaning “how are you” or “how do you do”. It is an expression most commonly used in introductions and meetings, and is meant in a polite manner.

Hanabi – Fireworks.

Hanami – Cherry blossom viewing, usually occurs in April.

Hanko – A stamp or seal used to sign documents, much like our use of a signature in North America. The ink used is red.

Hashi – Chopsticks.

Hashiru – To run, or the act of running.

Hatsumode – The practice of celebrating the new year by flocking to the various shinto shrines, and offering prayers for your family, relatives and gaurdian spirits.

Hatsuyume – lit. “first dream” (hatsu = first, yume = dream) of the year. Traditionally, the first dream that one has on the night of January 2nd signifies the type of year you will have. Of particular importance are three symbols which are considered most lucky; they are (in order) Fuji-san, hawks, and the eggplant.

Heisei – Calmness, peace, tranquility.

Hen – Strange, Weird.

Henshin – Transformation. Used to describe the sub-genre of special-effects shows featuring super-hero transformations (Kamen Rider or Metal Heroes). Also used to describe transforming mecha (Henshin Robo).

Hentai [hen-tah-ee] – Abnormality. Sexual perversion. Used also to describe a certain class of anime, manga or otaku (as in “H-Anime”).

Hi [hee] – Fire

Hidari – Left, opposite of right.

Higasa – A sun umbrella or parasol.

Himitsu – A secret.

Hirogana [hee-rah-gah-nah] – One of three, Japanese lettering with 46 syllables.

Iie [ee-eh] – No

Ikebana – The Japanese art of flower arranging.

Ikenai – Not allowed.

Imouto – Younger sister.

Irashaimase [ihr-rah-shai-mah-seh] – “Welcome” or “Come In”, often at stores or restaurants.

Itadakimasu [ee-tah-dah-kee-mah-soo] – Roughly translates to: Let’s Eat.

Itai – Ouch.

Itekimasu – A statement said when leaving, “I’m off!”

Iterashai – A statement said when someone is leaving, wishing them off (everyday usage.)

Itoko – A cousin.

Izumi [ee-soo-mee] – Fountain

Ja Ne [jah-neh] – See Ya

Jiji [jee-jee] – From the Japanese, literally meaning “old man”. The difference between it and other words for “old man” is that it is less polite.

Jinchuu – Reveange

Josei – Refers to young, adult females.

Juku [joo-koo] – From the Japanese, meaning “academy”. Juku are after-hours classes or schools that are used by some Japanese students in order to better understand subjects that they are having trouble comprehending or need more information on. Some juku are also considered as “cram schools”, taken during the summer up to three times a week to help students prepare for exams, though this is more the exception than the norm.

Kadomatsu – Decorative arrangements of pine boughs and bamboo which are placed near the entrances of home during new year’s.

Kaiju – Japanese for monster.

Kaire – ‘Go home!’

Kami – God or goddess, applied as a term of greatest respect, eg the great artist Osamu Tezuka, often referred to as ‘manga no kami’, the manga god. Even greater respect implied by the suffix ‘-sama’.

Kan-kan – Colloquialism for getting angry. When told to younger kids, two fingers of each hand are often placed above the head to indicate that horns are growing out of the head.

Kanji [kahn-jee] – One of 3 sets of characters of japanese writing.

Kanpai – A toast, the Japanese equivalent for ‘Cheers!’

Kasa – General word for umbrella.

Katakana [kah-tah-kah-nah] – A more angular form of japanese writing used to translate words of foreign origins and scientific terms.

Katana [kah-tah-nah] – Traditional, slightly curved blade of about 3 feet in length. Used as a weapon in Japan by swordsman of numerous eras.

Kawaii [kah-wah-ee] – This is a Japanese term means cute, delightful, or pretty. Cuteness is a characteristic of great importance in some anime.

Kijin – Fiend

Kimono [kee-mo-no] – A traitional Japanese robe or clothing worn by men and women. Styles for each gender differ because women’s kimonos usually have more elegant, detailed, and colorful designs and overall more feminine.

Kisama [kee-sah-mah] – From the Japanese. Is an extremely impolite way of addressing someone – in fact, it may be the rudest way to talk to someone, as it carries a meaning of “damn you”, or “you” with a condescending or sarcastic tone.

Kodomo [koh-doh-moh] – From the Japanese, literally meaning “child” or “children”.

Koi – Carp, a large bottom-feeding, goldfish colored fish, often kept in home ponds.

Kokoro [koh-koh-roh] – From the Japanese, meaning “heart”. This can mean the literal “heart” or the figurative “heart” depending on what context it is used in.

Konbanwa [kon-bahn-wah] – From the Japanese meaning “good evening”.

Konnichiwa [ko-nee-chee-wah] – One of the many different ways of saying hello in Japan. This one is commonly used in the afternoon.

Koucha – Japanese word referring to any number of black teas.

Kouhai – Term used to refer to persons of a junior rank, position or age. An older person in a company can be a younger person’s “kouhai” if they entered the company after the younger person did.

Mahou Shoujo [mah-ho sho-jo] – Magical girl. A unique anime genre displaying girls with super powers.

Mainichi – Every day.

Majime – Proper, or ‘square’, not necessarily a compliment

Manga: [mahng-gah] – Sometimes confused with anime, manga is the Japanese word for comic book (or Graphic Novel, if you prefer) and is used in English to mean Japanese comic books. Japanese comics often possessing a linear story line that extends to several volumes. Manga and anime are very closely related, as artists frequently crossover, as do the characters they create. Usually the manga is created first, and if it becomes really popular then the market it deemed capable of supporting a much more costly animation based on it.

Manga-ka [mahng-gah-kah] – A professional Japanese comic writer.

Manga-kissa – A “manga cafe”. It’s a shop which carries a large number of different manga titles. People then pay by the half hour or hour to sit and read various manga.

Mansion – These are newer, fairly modern rental dwellings.

Masaka [mah-sah-kah] – This expression of despair can be translated as “It can’t be!”

Matte [mah-teh] – Wait!

Meishi – Business or calling card. The Japanese expect these as a means of formal greeting, especially in professional circles. Personal ones can be made at any numerous vending machines, and will often feature current favorite entertainment themes.

Migi – Right, opposite of left.

Miko [mee-koh] – From the Japanese, literally meaning “voice of the gods”, with a conventional meaning of “priestess”. These holy women are generally a part of the temple and perform rituals of purification or summoning prayer.

Minna [mee-nah] – From the Japanese, meaning “all” or “everyone”.

Mite [mee-teh] – Look!

Mochi – Rice cake, often quite sticky and used in various dishes especially desserts. Also used in nabe or shabu-shabu.

Moshi Moshi [mo-shee mo-shee] – Informal Japanese greeting used when answering the phone.

Nani? [nah-nee] – “What?” Can also be used out of surprise or confusion.

Nasakenai – Pitiful, pathetic, shameful.

Natto – A Japanese food item consisting of fermented soy beans in a slightly sticky, and spider-web like “sauce.” The stuff is very smelly, and the “sauce” has the same basic consistency of ocra sap.

Ne [neh] – From the Japanese, usually added to the end of an expression, with the intent of verifying the truth of the expression from the person it is being spoken to.

Neko [neh-ko] – A cat. Can be used in conjunction with a girl or boy to describe half-human, half-cat characters in anime.

Nigiri – Japanese rice balls, often garnished with sesame seeds or wrapped partly in laver.

Nippon/Nihon [nee-pon] – Japan.

Nissei – A 2nd-generation Japanese person born in a country other than Japan.

Ohayou Gozaimasu [o-hah-yo go-chah-ee-mah-soo] – Good Morning.

Okaasan – Mother. Depending on the suffix used, the level of politeness will also vary.

Okairinasai – Japanese equvalent of “welcome home,” said when greeting people coming back home.

Okashii – Strange, unusal, out-of-the-ordinary, unexpected.

Omedetou [oh-meh-deh-toh] – From the Japanese, meaning “congratulations”.

Omoshiroi [oh-moh-shee-roy] – From the Japanese, meaning “interesting”, “intriguing”, or “amusing”.

Onegai Shimasu [o-neh-gah-ee shee-mah-soo] – A polite way to say “Please”

Oneichan – Sister, or in more formal situations, a young woman of older age or social standing.

Oni [o-nee] – A demon.

Oniichan – Brother, or in more formal situations, a young man of older age or social standing.

Oseibo – Year-end gifts given show gratitude for associations over the year.

Otaku [o-tah-koo]: – In Japanese, a derogatory form of ‘you’ which also has the meaning of, roughly, ‘no-life geek who spends all his time building GUNDAM models…’Be that as it may, in certain circles its meaning has evolved into a less perjorative term, namely, ‘huge anime fan who is respected because he spends all his time building GUNDAM models…’

Otousan – Father. Depending on the suffix used, the level of politeness will also vary.

Otouto – Younger brother.

Oyasumi [oh-yah-suu-mee] – From the Japanese, meaning “good night” or in some cases “good bye”. Used most commonly to end a conversation with someone at nighttime or near nighttime.

Pasu-con – Japanese approximation for “personal computer.”

Piyo – An onomatopoeia for the sound that small birds make.

Pocky [po-kee] – Popular biscuit-like Japanese snack covered with a wide variety of flavors. There are many pocky references in anime and some pocky brands even sport anime characters on their boxes.

Ramen [rah-men] – Japanese noodles. Standard college meal of choice because it’s cheap and easy to make.

Romanji [ro-mahn-jee] – One of 3 sets of characters of Japanese writing.

Sake [sah-keh] – Alcoholic beverage typical to Japan. Made of fermented rice and brewed much like beer. Made to be served cold or warm.

Sashimi [sah-shee-mee] – From the Japanese, meaning “raw fish”.

Sayonara [sah-yo-nah-rah] – One way of saying goodbye. Can be used at any time of the day.

Sei-jin no Hi [say-jeen no hee] – Coming of age day, a holiday celebrated by twenty-year-olds who can drink, smoke and vote.

Seinen – Refers to young, adult males.

Seiyuu: [say-yoo] – This is also a japanese term means voice actor/actress. The voices in the anime are actually their voices.

Sensei – Another term of respect, meaning ‘teacher’ or ‘master’; Said either alone or as a suffix to the subject’s surname. Used either at school or while being involved in a discipline or art.

Senshi [sehn-shee] – From the Japanese, meaning “soldier”, “warrior”, or “combatant”. The word appears to have less of an emphasis on honor as the “samurai” term, but can still be attributed to a fighter of honorably status.

Sentai [sen-tah-ee] – Japanese for team. Many shows are the term, or the shorter suffix ‘tai’ to indicate that there is a team of heroes.

Sera fuku – Refers to the style of school uniforms worn by students, though the most common reference is to the girl’s uniforms.

Shiawase [shee-ah-wah-seh] – From the Japanese, meaning “happiness” or “to be happy”.

Shimatta [shee-mah-tah] – Damn.

Shine [shee-nah] – Die.

Shinto [sheen-to] – Japan’s oldest and original religion. In Shintoism, every thing and being possesses its own spirit. Shinto is based upon the worship of, and coexistence with, the natural world.

Shogatsu – New Year’s, the most important time of the year in Japan. Shogatsu refers to the first three days of the new year.

Shoji – A type of moveable partition used in Japan, consisting of a wood lattice frame, covered with rice-paper. Very delicate, lightweight and lets a fair amount of light to pass, but offers basic privacy.

Shojo – Referring to girls or younger women

Shonen – Refers to young males.

Shoyu – Japanese word for soya sauce.

Sodesu – That is so, that is correct.

Sugoi [soo-goy] – Incredible, awesome.

Sukebe – Lewd, sleazy

Sumimasen [soo-mee-mah-sen] – “I’m Sorry”

Sushi [soo-shee] – Refers to one of the more well-known of Japanese foods, sushi is prepared in a variety of ways, most commonly with vinegar rice and a multitude of ingredients. Many people make the mistake of associating sushi with raw fish, when in fact ingredients such as cooked shrimp, eel, and egg are all a part of different kinds of sushi. Sushi is made in many different styles as well, from large hand rolls to small rolls wrapped in seaweed.

Tadaima – Traditionally, an announcement made when indicating arrival; “I’m here!” or “I’m home!”

Takaramono – Treasure

Tankoubon – A compilation book. Often refers to manga issues which have been collected into a volume for a given author.

Tate-yomi – Literally meaning “standing read,” it describes the situation seen in many bookstores where people stand for a lengthy period of time reading through the latest release of a magazine or manga.

Tennou – Emperor.

Tenshi [tehn-shee] – From the Japanese, with its most commonly seen meaning in anime being “angel”, although it can also mean “emperor”, “nature/natural elements” or a “heavenly gift”. Some classical Japanese and Asian literature and mythology used this term to refer to the emperor as the “son of heaven”.

Terebi – Japanese approximation of the word “television.”

Ukai – A way of fishing using live cormorant birds.

Ukiyo-e – Beautifully intricate form of wood block prints.

Umeboshi – Pickled, salty plums, usually a ruddy red color.

Urusai [oo-roo-sah-ee] – “Be quiet.”

Utaite – Japanese term for a singer or soloist.

Wakatta [wah-kah-tah] – Understood.

Walla – Film industry term referring to the incidental background conversations that occur in crowds.

Waribashi – Disposable chopsticks.

Wasabi [wah-sah-bee] – The Japanese version of horseradish, wasabi’s most common form is a sort of green-colored paste that can be found in most Japanese supermarkets. It can also come in a powdered form.

Yakuza – Literally ‘useless, worthless, good-for-nothing’ (adj) or ‘a ne’er-do-well’ (noun), applied to a gangster or member of an organized crime syndicate–the japanese equivalent of the Mafia.

Yame – Stop!

Yatta – Japanese short form for “yarimashita” meaning “did it”. When used as an exclamation Yatta! it has the meaning of “I did it!”

Yoma – A term used for demons or supernatural entities of evil intent.

Yobiko [yoh-bih-koh] – From the Japanese. Yobiko are intensive private “cram schools” that many prospective Japanese college students attend in order to prepare for exams

Yoroshiku [yoh-rohs-hi-kuu] – From the Japanese, literally meaning “properly”, “suitably”, or “best regards”.

Yu – Japanese word for hot water.

Yubikiri – A pledge or promise made between two children, sealed by hooking their right pinky fingers together.


ichi – 1

ni – 2

san – 3

shi – 4

go – 5

roku – 6

shichi – 7

hachi – 8

ku – 9

iyu – 10

hyaku – 100

108 – A lucky number according to Buddhist superstition.

sen – 1,000

man – 10,000

Name Status Additions:

-Chan [chahn] – Suffix meaning darling or little one, a term of affection usually reserved for romantic partners, young female friends, small animals or children. Also used in the eighties to describe the ‘squashed’ versions of charas now generally known as CB.

-kohai [ko-hah-ee] – Suffix meaning: One’s Junior

-kun [kun] – Suffix: Used among very close friends and relatives, especially male

-sama [sah-mah] – Lord. Used when addressing people of utmost respect or when referring to gods. Usually employed in concurrence with a title but can also be used with a name.

-san [sahn] – A close equivalent to Mr. and Mrs. Used as a respectful method of addressing people of similar status.

-senpai [sen-pah-ee] – Upperclassmen, Used in relation to fellow classmates of higher level or age.