Slang up your Japanese verb skills!

You use English slang everyday – but how well do you know Japanese slang? Beef up your colloquial Japanese skillz by checking out JCMU Japanese language instructor Keiko Melville’s examples of Japanese slang below!

“Cool” and “awesome” have been used by young people in the States for a long time. The popularity of these colloquial words has truly withstood the test of time: evidence suggests that “cool” has been in use for more than 50 years. Without saying, Japanese young people use similar slang with a long history.

I would like to introduce some slang, but only verbs this time. Many new words are made by taking trendy nouns and simply adding the suffix る (ru) to turn them into verbs. Most of these words are written in katakana. The reason for this may be because katakana tends to show stronger emotion in the speaker’s voice as opposed to hiragana.

Below are some examples (both classic and modern) of Japanese slang:

Classic examples of Japanese slang

ビビる (bibiru): to freak out

First used in the Heian Period

Example: いつも1000人の前で歌うのはビビる。
Itsumo sennin no mae de utau no wa bibiru.
I always freak out when I sing in front of 1000 people.

ムカつく(mukatsuku): to be angry at  

First used in the Heian Period

Kanojo ga yakusoku no jikan ni konakatta. Kanoyo ni mukatsuku!
She did not show up on time. She makes me angry!

ヘコむ (hekomu): to feel down

First used in the Edo Period

Shiken de shippaishite hekondeiru.
I feel down because I failed my exam

フケる (fukeru): to disappear

First used in the Edo Period

Seibutsu no kurasu wo tokyuu de fukeru tumori da.
I am going to leave in the middle of biology class.

パクる (pakuru): to copy or steal

First used in the Meiji Period

Tomodachi no aidia wo pakutta.
I copied my friend’s idea.

Recent examples of Japanese slang

ディスる (disuru) = to diss

Ano haiyuu wa nakama wo uragitta kara minna ni disurareta.
The actor, who had betrayed their coworkers, was dissed by everyone.

トラブる (toraburu): to become a problem, to make trouble

Joushi to roodoojouken ni tsuite torabutteiru.
I am troubling my boss about our working conditions.

パニクる (panikuru): to freaked out

Kanojo wa saifu wo nakushite panikutteiru.
She is freaking out because she lost her wallet.

ググる (guguru): to Google it

Let’s Google it!

バグる (baguru): [for a machine] to break

Sumaho ga bagutta.
My smartphone is broken.

ファボる (faboru): to press the “like” button on Facebook

Watashi no shashin ga ki ni ittara fabottene.
If you like my picture, please “like” it!

ブログる (buroguru): to write a blog

Niwa no teire wo buroguru nowa tanoshii.
It is fun to write a blog about gardening.

リムる(rimuru): to remove a person from one’s own site

Tomodachi ni rimu rareta.
I was removed from a friend’s Facebook group.

マナる (manaru): to set one’s phone on silent

Gomen ne. Manattete denwa ni ki ga tukanakatta.
Sorry, I didn’t notice your call because my phone was set on silent.

You may hear these expressions in friendly conversations, when watching a Japanese drama, or when reading a manga. In fact, you’ll probably see many more additional examples there! As with any language, slang is a large part of daily Japanese conversation, and is ever-changing.

Have fun with slang – just make sure not to use slang in a professional situation!

One thought

  1. These were really interesting! I’d love to see a breakdown of where each word comes from and why. Most of the ones that come from borrowed English words were fairly obvious, but I’m very curious about the origin of the older ones, as well as a few of the newer ones. Where does ファボる come from? I’ll be doing some research! 🙂

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