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How To Curse In Japanese Posted by on Feb 23, 2020 in Grammar

You are planning to come to Japan, and you want to be completely and utterly prepared. You’ve learned all of the standard phrases, but what do you do when you need to curse at someone?

Most people generally avoid flinging out expletives willy-nilly, but it can’t be denied that there are some situations where cursing seems appropriate. In those situations, you’ll need some linguistic ammunition. That’s why I’ve prepared a list of words and phrases that you can use to curse, in Japanese. It’s true that Japanese curse words are not profanity in the same way that some English words are, but by forming sentences from the words and phrases below, you can nevertheless become a legitimate Japanese-speaking potty mouth.

We’ll start with “teme” (てめぇ). This word isn’t technically a curse word; it means “you”. I included this word because it is useful in conjunction with curse words, because it is so rough and informal. You’ll want to add this word to the others in this list in order to make a nice, happily insulting sentence. For example, “teme, nani shitendayo” (てめぇ、何してんだよ), or, “Hey you, what the hell are you doing?” is fluid, whereas adding more formal versions of “you” would be out of place.

Next up: “yaro” (バカ). This is not really a word that is used by itself; it’s attached to other words to add the meaning of “bastard”. It essentially increases the severity of a curse word. It’s incredibly useful, because you can tag it onto almost anything. For example, kusoyaro (くそやろ) means something like “shit bastard”, while “bakayaro” (バカヤロー) means something like “stupid bastard”.

Next, we have “kuso” (くそ). Kuso translates literally to “shit”.  If used simply and by itself, “shit” is generally understood as the meaning, but in the case of strong emphasis, it is more like “fucking”. For example, you can say something is “fucking serious” by saying, “kusomajime” (くそ真面目), or you can say someone is fucking incompetent by saying, “hetakuso” (下手くそ). Kuso is not exclusively used as a curse word and is not as strong as the English word “fucking”; it can be interpreted as innocent emphasis. For example, Japanese children can sometimes be heard saying “kusomuzukashii” (くそ難しい), or, “freaking difficult”, and people often say “hanakuso”, (鼻くそ) or “nose shit” – boogers.

The next phrase, “fuzakenna” (ふざけんな) roughly translates to, “You’re fucking kidding me”, or “Don’t fuck with me”. It’s probably best used in situations where something unexpected and frustrating has happened. For example, if you’ve just worked for an hour on an advertisement that you plan to post and then the application blocks you for seemingly no reason, using this word would be appropriate. I’m definitely not speaking from experience.

Next, “Nani shitendayo” (何してんだよ), or “What the hell / fuck are you doing”. This phrase is incredibly useful, because you can use it in almost any situation where someone is doing something stupid or annoying. It also works well with some of the other phrases we’ve just talked about. For example, you could say, “You! What the fuck are you doing, stupid shit bastard” by saying “Teme! Nani shitendayo, Kusobakayaro” (てめぇ!何してんだよ、バカヤロー).

The next word, “aho” (アホ), is similar to “baka” (バカ) in that it can mean “stupid”, but it has the important difference of also meaning “idiot” or “moron”. It’s also more commonly used in Kansai, whereas “baka” is more commonly used in the Kanto region of Japan. It is often used by itself, whereas “baka” can be added to other words, for emphasis. You wouldn’t say “ahoyaro” (アホやろ), but you could say “bakayaro” (バカヤロー).

Our last word, “uzai”, (ウザい) means something like “annoying” “yuck” or “gross”. It’s not technically a curse word, but it can be used as one, under the right circumstances. The difference between using this and other Japanese words with similar meanings is that “uzai” tends to express multiple emotions at once, rather than a singular emotion. If you want to imply that someone is making you feel all kinds of disgusting and irritated, this the word for you.

There are more Japanese phrases that can be used in a cursing-appropriate situation, but these are the basics. Each of these phrases or words can be combined together to make some seriously nasty sentences, so if you find yourself in a situation where you need to let someone have it, you’ll now have the linguistic ammunition. That being said, I doubt you’ll have many opportunities to curse in Japanese. Japanese people are just too damn polite. Still, if you’re going to learn a language, you’ve got to learn it all, right?

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About the Author: Philip Gregory

Philip Gregory is a singer-songwriter, concert photographer, and published writer. He has degrees in English, Japanese, and Philosophy. He speaks English and Japanese and has lived in Japan for more than 8 years.


Comments:

  1. Phill Birch:

    Very good.
    I have similar guidance for France (parents used to have rented apartment near Biarritz) – Merde!: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School