One of those phrases that everybody learns at a young age in America is “oh my god” or one of its many variants such as “oh my gosh” and the like. Today we’re going to go over how to say oh my god in Japanese.
The first thing I wanted to do was lay out the English definition of this word that we can all get on the same page as to its exact meaning. This will help when we cover the different ways to say it in Japanese.
Simply put, “oh my god is an exclamation variously expressing disbelief, frustration, excitement, or anger.”
How To Say Oh My God In Japanese
The first and most obvious way to say this phrase is to use the English loan word version. This is just the English phrase transferred (not even really translated) into Japanese and notated using katakana.
There’s a couple different ways I’ve seen it, with the first one being オーマイゴッド (ō mai goddo). Sounds pretty easy right? This first usage commonly gets used when you’re expressing disbelief or frustration and you feel like doing a face palm.
Here’s a short clip from the anime Humanity Has Declined where the main character is talking to some fairies and they tell her that not only is the water plant down, but that it can’t be repaired because they are all out of trees.
Since they are stranded on an island, she lets out an オーマイゴッド at about the 0:08 mark.
The other way that I’ve seen it is used more often in those situations where you’re angry or in shock and you feel like shouting it really loudly. It is オーマイガー (ō mai gā) and the only real difference from the first form we covered is the ending word “god” and how it’s handled.
Here’s another anime clip for this phrase. This time it’s at about the 0:13 mark.
Keep in mind that since these phrases are just phonetically taken from English, a lot of Japanese people aren’t really familiar with their meanings.
I’ve really only seen them used a couple times in anime, which means you’re probably better off using them among young Japanese people, rather than the elderly.
You would probably want to use one of the below Japanese language equivalents to this phrase when talking with them.
The Literal Japanese Translation Of It
In Japanese, the word for god is 神 (kami). But since the culture of Japan is centered around concepts such as harmony and respect, it’s way more common to hear 神様 (kami sama) when people are talking about a god.
The 様 part is simply a suffix that get’s attached to show additional respect towards the listener.
So the phrase 「あぁ、私の女神さま！」 (ā, watashi no kami sama!) is the literal way to say “oh my god” in Japanese.
What’s kind of funny is that there is actually an anime called ああっ女神さまっ which is called Oh My Goddess! in English since the god character is female. It plays off of the English expression.
That being said, Japanese people don’t actually use this phrase as an exclamation like we do in English. To do that, you’ll want to read the following section.
The Japanese Version Of OMG
The first Japanese exclamation to cover is なんて事 (nante koto) which is a common way of saying OMG. This can be used when expressing disbelief at something that has happened.
On a side note, you’ll see koto written in both kanji 事 and hiragana こと.
For example, let’s say that you’re out having dinner at a nice restaurant and on the way back to your place you see that a house is on fire. As you approach it, you realize that it’s your house!
You get out of the car and stare in shock as all of your things burn down!
- nante koto da… nante koto da…
- Oh my god… oh my goodness…
The next Japanese expression to learn is おやまあ (oya maa) which still means “good heavens” or “OMG” and the like.
This one is softer than the last one. You wouldn’t really shout this one out due to your disbelief, but rather you would use it when you’re surprised by something.
Let’s pretend that you’re walking through the forest and you come across an area that is completely scorched and a mess. You can tell that something destructive happened here, but you’re not sure what. Perhaps it was a lightning strike or something?
- oya ma, nani ga atta no?
- Oh my, whatever happened here?
One thing to note about おやまあ is that it’s typically used by women in Japanese. So if you’re a guy speaking, then you’ll probably want to use the first expression.
Other Phrases To Know
The thing to keep in mind about saying “OMG” is that it’s just one expression out of many that you can use to express a particular group of emotions.
Thankfully there are alternative phrases that you can use to convey these same feelings. For example, when you’re in a state of shock you might say something like no way in Japanese.
- uso deshou!
- No way!
Or another common word that you can use is マジ (maji) when you want to say something like “seriously” when you’re asking if something actually true since it sounds so ridiculous.
- e, maji ka!
- Eh, seriously!
The last word that I’ll talk about here is ヤバイ (yabai). This word has a lot of different meanings depending on how you use it. It can mean that something is “cool” or it can also mean that “you’re in a bad situation.”
It can also be used similar to how we say OMG in English.
Let’s say that you’re reading the news and you see that a train has derailed and smashed into some buildings in your town. That’s a situation where you might say ヤバイ with this meaning.
Now It’s Your Turn
That’s all I’ve got for you in today’s lesson. Let me know if you have any questions at all on this phrase or anything else that we covered.
Or if there’s something on your mind that you would like to add to the conversation, then please feel free to do so!
Thanks for reading and I will see you next time!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: