Today, let’s continue along with the theme of family members. And in particular we will talk about the bro siblings.
If you missed the post on little sisters, then you can find it by clicking here.
We’ll talk about all kinds of brothers, but start off with little bros.
The Japanese word for little brother sounds an awful lot like the Japanese word for father. You don’t want to get those two mixed up! So how do you say little brother in Japanese?
Read on to find out!
弟 (otouto) – Younger Brother
The Japanese word for little brother is 弟 (otouto). You would use this particular word when you are talking about your own little brother. But if you wanted to talk about someone else’s little brother, then you would add on the honorific さん (san) to the end of it to turn it into 弟さん (otoutosan).
This word sounds almost identical to the word for “father” which is お父さん (otousan). The only difference is that the word for “father” has one less と (to) sound in it. So watch out for that!
Some of the compound words that use this kanji for “younger brother” are
- 弟子 (deshi) = Pupil
- 弟妹 (teimai) = Younger brother and sister
- 弟分 (otoutobun) = Friend treated as a younger brother
兄 (ani) – Older Brother
The Japanese word for big brother is 兄 (ani). Again, this is the version of the word that is specific to your own older brother. If you wanted to talk about someone else’s older brother, you would have to say お兄さん (oniisan).
Using more polite words for others and humble words for yourself is a part of the Japanese uchi/soto concept. If you’re not familiar with it, then you can read about it here in the post I wrote on sisters.
If you’ve seen a lot of anime or played a JRPG like Persona 4, then I’m sure you’ve noticed some younger characters will say “big bro” in place of their older brother’s name. Sometimes it’s not even their biological brother, but just a guy who is “like an older brother” to them.
In Japanese, the word they are saying is お兄ちゃん (oniichan). This is like the polite word for someone else’s brother, but the respectful さん has been replaced with the familiar ちゃん.
Some of the compound words that use this kanji for “older brother” are
- 兄弟 (kyoudai) = Brothers
- 兄姉 (keishi) = Older brother and sister
- 兄弟分 (kyoudaibun) = Buddy, a sworn brother
- 実弟 (jittei) = Biological younger brother
- 義弟 (gitei) = Younger brother-in-law
- 末弟 (battei) = Youngest brother
- 実兄 (jikkei) = Biological older brother
- 義兄 (gikei) = Older brother-in-law
- 長兄 (choukei) = Oldest brother
Today’s post was pretty short. A lot of the information relating to the dynamics of older vs. younger siblings and my vs. your siblings were written about earlier, so I skipped on repeating all of that information here.
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: