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We’re going beyond baka today. (Obviously, this is not safe for work due to language.)
I don’t know where the rumor got started that Japanese doesn’t have swear words, because it couldn’t be further from the truth. Japanese has a rich vocabulary of insulting words, just like any other language, ready to be used with the absolute, utmost discretion.
So that’s why this week on W.T.F. Japan, we’re counting down the top five most offensive Japanese swear words. We’re going beyond the bad words you might’ve heard in anime, like temee (“you jerk”), kisama (“you bastard”) or kuso (“sh*t”), and into the deeper, dirtier stuff that will make you lose friends and get slapped.
In fact, we’re mostly introducing these words so you’ll recognize them if you hear them – don’t go starting an international incident, please!
Also this is by no means a comprehensive list of the worst words in Japanese, but it’s a good start for anyone ready to go down the path of being a no-good, foul-mouthed hoodlum.
So let’s get to it! Starting off with…
#5. “Stupid” Words: キチガイ (kichigai), カス (kasu)
Everybody and their grandma knows how to call someone a baka (“stupid”), and you may have heard some other words before like aho (“idiot”) or boke (“sh*t-for-brains”), but now it’s time to really insult someone’s intelligence by calling them a kasu (“worthless idiot”) or kichigai (“retard”).
Kasu is a word that literally means “a leftover, useless byproduct,” something that should just be thrown away. Kichigai is usually translated as “crazy,” but is much more offensive in Japanese, so much so that it’s typically censored when written or spoken, similar to how we bleep certain words on TV or write them out like “sh*t.” In fact, it would be considered discriminatory against people with mental illness — you might use it with friends, but you won’t hear it in the media.
Like many Japanese swear words, kasu and kichigai are best served with the word kono before them, turning into kono kasu or kono kichigai. Kono usually means “this,” but when used with a spicy word such as the above and talking directly to someone, it translates to “you” instead. Just don’t plan on having any sort of future with the person you’re saying it to.
Nan da, konna koto mo wakannee no ka? Kono kichigai.
“What, you didn’t know that? You’re retarded.”
#4. For the Ladies: あばずれ (abazure), やりまん (yariman)
Every language has special offensive words reserved for specific sexes only, and Japanese is no exception. If you’re ready to have women hate you, then go ahead and let loose with an abazure (“b*tch”) or yariman (“slut”).
Abazure comes from the word abaremono (“someone who acts crazy”), and used to be used for both men and women back in the Edo Period, but is now exclusively a women-only insult. As for the meaning behind yariman, well, we’ll get to that one later.
In the interest of keeping things fair though, if you want a men-only insult, try using do’inpo (“impotent”). If you really want to get a guy mad, then there’s no better way than insulting his flaccid, fragile manhood. You can also use yarichin for guys — chin coming from chinko, or penis.
Kane wo yokose, kono abazure!
“Give me my money, b*tch!”
#3. Please Die: しね(shi’ne), くたばれ (kutabare)
There’s really nothing quite as insulting as telling someone to just go die. It’s simple, to the point, and lets them know exactly what you think of them: you’d prefer being around a corpse of that person than the living thing.
You may have heard characters yell shi’ne (“die!”) at each other in anime before, but it bears repeating here. It’s basically the equivalent of “go to Hell” in English, meaning nothing good can really come from saying it.
And kutabare is even worse. It’s the command form of the verb kutabaru (“to drop dead”), and like some other words on this list, it’s so bad that it’s often censored in Japanese media.
Tsutsushinde moushiagemasu, kutabare boke.
“I would like to respectfully request that you drop dead, sh*t for brains.”
#2. Them’s Fightin’ Words: くそったれ (kusottare), ケツメド野郎 (ketsumedo yarou)
You might’ve heard the words kuso (“sh*t”) and yarou (“jerk/bastard”) before, and while they’re not that bad by themselves, they can be spiced up into something pretty explosive when you add a little bit to them, like kusottare (“sh*t-hanger”) or ketsumedo yarou (“a$$hole-bastard”).
Kusottare could be translated into English many delightful ways, such as “sh*t-head,” but literally it combines the words kuso (“sh*t”) and tare (“hanging down”), conjuring up the beautiful image of someone walking along with a poop-snake hanging out from behind. It’s mostly used in anime or old TV shows, so using this one might make you sound like you’re from the 80s.
Ketsumedo yarou is even more offensive – again often censored in media – and is pretty straightforward, combining ketsu (“ass”), medo (“hole”) and yarou (“jerk/bastard”) into one word guaranteed to start a fight. This one is also probably more common in anime than in real life — most Japanese people probably would be more confused by this than anything.
Yariyagatta na, ketsumedo yarou. Temee no nouten buchinuiteyaru!
“Now you’ve done it, you a$$hole. I’ll punch your head in!”
And the #1 most offensive Japanese swear is…
1. Forbidden Territory: まんこ (manko)
Manko is the equivalent of the English “c-word,” which is also so bad that we don’t even refer to it by name. It’s like the Voldemort of swear words.
This is pretty much as offensive as it gets. It’s not even so much a “swear word” as it is just straight up taboo. When this comes out of your mouth, there’s no going back; your life will change… most likely for the worse.
Personally, I find it a little silly that the absolute worst word in at least two languages is just a human female body part, but here we are. Use this one with extreme caution, since its use has lead to at least one artist being arrested for creating manko art.
Remember the word for “slut” we saw earlier, yariman? The man in yariman comes from manko, literally meaning “(someone who) gives their manko away.” Yeah, it’s pretty sexist and terrible, but we’re not exactly dealing with the bright side of the Japanese language here.
In fact, when we asked one of our Japanese writers about it, we were told that people basically just don’t use it, especially in front of a co-ed group, though you might hear close male friends throwing it around.
For one of the best examples of manko usage though, we turn to the manko artist who was arrested – known as Rokudenashiko – who crowdfunded a boat made out of a 3D scan of her vagina.
▼ Hmm, I wonder what the “M” on her hat stands for….
ろくでなし子一審一部無罪！ (@6d745) June 22, 2016
Dou ka watashi ni sekaihatsu to narimasu, manko no 3D skyanaa taiken to, 3D manbooto de umi wo watarasete kudasai!
“Help me be the first person in the world to have their p*ssy 3D scanned, and then cross the world in a 3D p*ssy-boat!”
Phew! So there you have it, the top five most offensive Japanese swear words. Have you ever used these words before, or had them used against you? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to tell us any of your favorite terrible words we missed so that we can all enrich our Japanese vocabulary together.