Japanese

How Do You Say King in Japanese? Learn it to Become One!

Okay, I can’t actually promise that you’ll become a king just by learning the Japanese word for it. But you never know! Stranger things have happened!

The Japanese word for king is one of those “all or nothing” words. Either you will never use it and therefore never need to know it, or you will encounter it all the flippin’ time!

If you primarily only use Japanese to talk with natives, then you might only hear the word king used once a month. When it comes to how frequently it gets used, it’s number 3,521. So not really all that common.

But if you play games like Dragon Quest, or read manga like One Piece, then you’re going to see it a lot! And let me tell you, the kanji for king gets attached to almost everything that is related to kings and royalty!

Alright, enough of my rambling. How do you say king in Japanese? Let’s find out now!

How Do You Say King in Japanese?

The basic word for king in Japanese is (ō), but you will rarely ever see it as just that one kanji. It is much more common to see 王様 (ō sama) which has the big honorific (sama) attached to it.

In English 王様 would be like saying, “his royal majesty the king” as opposed to which would be more like just saying “king.”

That kanji for king gets used in many compound words that are not specifically “king,” but instead bring the meaning of “royalty” to them. Here are a couple of common ones that you will most likely encounter:

王室 / おうしつ / Royal family

女王 / じょおう / Queen

王朝 / おうちょう / Dynasty

王座 / おうざ / Throne

王冠 / おうかん / Crown

王物 / おうもの / Royalty

What’s nice is that the kanji only has the one reading of おう, so it is really easy to remember and use when it’s a part of other words.

But the unfortunate thing is that the above words don’t always mean what you would think they mean based off of their kanji.

女王 uses the kanji for “woman” and “king” so it makes sense that it’s the word for “queen” in Japanese.

But 王室 uses the words for “king” and “room” which you would think means something like “royal chambers” or even “the royal throne room,” but it is neither of these places. It means “royal family” in Japanese.

So just be aware that you can’t always guess what the word means based off of the kanji it uses.

What Kind of King?

Most likely the way that you are going to see the word king used is in describing what kind of king the person is.

For example, in the post I wrote about dragons, you would say 竜王 (ryū ō) for Dragon king.

Is it as simple as adding  after the noun? Pretty much.

竜王 / りゅうおう / Dragon king

海賊王 / かいぞくおう / Pirate king

国王 / こくおう / King (of a country)

魔王 / まおう / Demon king

Besides the above method for talking about the type of king, there is also another.

It uses the word 王者 (ō ja) which is a combination of the words for “king” and “person” in Japanese. It normally translates as just “king; ruler,” but can be combined in the below way to also talk about different types of kings:

  • ライオンは動物の王者だ。
    raion wa dōbutsu no ō ja da.
    The lion is king of the beasts (beast king).
  • 俺は森の王者だ!
    ore wa mori no ō ja da!
    I am king of the forest (forest king)!

And of course, there’s an English loan word for king: キング.

Have you heard any of these words before? Do you know of any other ways to say king in Japanese?

Let me know with a comment below!

2 Comments

  • christopher

    Wow, you really have an awesome website here. Learning a language of the East is in my opinion much more difficult than that of the West. Yes, both sides of the world use symbols or essentially just scribbles that we attach meaning to, but it seems to me that Eastern languages are much more difficult.This could also be due to me not knowing a foreign language besides a bit of Spanish.

    I have heard though how not everything that we can translate to English from Japanese or Chinese. For example, where you said the characters for “king” and “room” actually translate to “royal family” instead of “royal chambers”. It is awesome that you are teaching another language like this, it seems really easy to learn this way.

    • Nick Hoyt

      Yeah, would have to say that learning the written part of eastern languages is much harder than the western ones. Most likely it’s because they are totally different from what we are used to. Although the Cyrillic Alphabet that gets used in places like Russia might actually be the hardest since they used some of the same letters, but with totally different pronunciations!

      You’re spot on when you say not everything translates from Japanese to English. There’s over 10 different ways to say “I” in Japanese whereas we only have the one in English. The funny thing is that, you often times actually omit it when speaking!

      But it’s one of the coolest things about learning languages – all the differences from your native tongue!

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