What Does BAKA Mean In Japanese?

How many of you like to watch anime? If you’re like me, you watch a lot! But which do you prefer, DUBs or SUBs?

If you watch anime in English (DUBs), then you’re probably not too familiar with the word BAKA. But if you’ve seen any anime in Japanese with English subtitles (SUBs) then you have definitely heard BAKA before!

So what does BAKA mean in Japanese? Let’s find out!

The simple answer is that BAKA is the Japanese word for idiot. But of course, it’s never as simple as that. BAKA is actually a very versatile insult that could be interpreted as any of the following:

  • idiot
  • fool
  • ass
  • stupid
  • nut
  • dummy

It’s by far the most common insult in the Japanese language. And it’s a pretty light one too. You wouldn’t really get too upset if your friend said it to you.

But let’s get one thing straight: Japanese people are notorious for being polite! I highly doubt one of them would say this to you, unless you were really good friends. But if you watch any Japanese anime, get ready to hear it a lot!

How do you spell it?

Are you familiar with the Japanese alphabet at all? BAKA is normally written in katakana (バカ) so that it stands out in manga. But there is actual kanji for BAKA (馬鹿). These two kanji mean “horse” and “deer.” So an idiot is a “horse-deer” lol 🙂

= horse
鹿 = deer

There are two other ways to say BAKA, but they basically mean the exact same thing:

bakamono = 馬鹿者
bakayarō = 馬鹿野郎

Interestingly enough, you can actually add the word BAKA to nouns, kind of like the way we use “damn” in English. Here’s what I mean:

Damn bug! = BAKA MUSHI – バカ虫

Hey, sometimes insults are fun! My buddies and I have been known to jest with each other from time to time! ^_^

And if you what to know some more Japanese swear words, then click here!

Do you know any insults in Japanese? What are they? Let me know with a comment!



  • Leita

    Hi, Nick, I love your site, everything, the colors, the layout, the content. It’s excellent and it really shows your passion for the Japanese language. I love languages, and you’ve made it seem fun to learn something that seems so complex. I signed up for your newsletter so I can stay connected. You’ve created a series of excellent posts that are very helpful to people who may not have considered learning the language as well as those who do want to learn more. Great job. I liked how you explained how you got interested in the learning Japanese. Have you also traveled there? That would be fun! I look forward to hearing form you about your adventures and success with Japanese Tactics.

    • Nick Hoyt

      Hey Leita, thank you for the complements! ^_^

      I’m working on making the entire site a very enjoyable experience for anyone who visits it. Both visually, and with lots of good information and free gifts. I’ll try to keep new and helpful posts coming so that there’s fresh material when you visit again.

      P.S. I’m actually going over to Japan later this year. I can’t wait!

  • Ki

    Haha, brilliant. Thanks for letting me know I am not being grievously insulted when my Japanese colleagues chide me with this remark. Now I have been enlightened I shall surely partake more freely in such banter.

    Nice site btw, I like the aesthetic – the land of the rising sun!

  • Santiago

    Hello Nick!

    Thank you for this post! I have always been an anime fan and I never knew the real meaning of that word.

    I´m also pretty interested in discovering the Japanese culture and their language.

    So your site looks pretty interesting to me. Thank you for that translation! It helps me understand a little bit better and apply it in the correct context.

    Wish you the best!

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