Japanese

What Does toriaezu Mean in Japanese? Learn it Here

Image credit: 芳蘭 徐芳蘭

A pretty common word that you will often come across in conversations is toriaezu. It’s kind of a mouthful of a word when you’re just starting out, but with a little practice it becomes easy to say. What does toriaezu mean in Japanese?

It can be translated as a few different things depending on the context of the situation it’s used in, but generally speaking toriaezu means For the time being; In the meantime

It can be written in several different ways using hiragana and kanji:

  • とりあえず
  • 取りあえず
  • 取り敢えず
  • toriaezu

I usually see it written like the first or second one, and it is often right at the beginning of a new sentence.

If you are in some sort of a business meeting where you’re making a proposal to upper management, but they’re not really feeling it, rather than just flat out saying “no” which would be direct and a very un-Japanese way of rejecting something, they would more likely take the indirect route and say something along the lines of:

  • 取りあえず次回また。
    Toriaezu jikai mata.
    Let’s postpone it for the time being.

This literally says “for the time being, next time, again” and is a pretty polite way of saying “no, we’re not interested.”

Basically, the role that とりあえず plays in this type of situation is to let the other person know that you want to move on to something else, and drop the current issue at hand or let it be resolved at an other time.

Here’s a look at another situation:

Let’s say that your attitude has been poor lately and you’re being reprimanded because of it. After your parents or boss tells you that they are unhappy about it, you might be told:

  • 取りあえずは反省します。
    Toriaezu wa hansei shimasu.
    For now, you should reflect on your behavior.

Other Uses of Toriaezu

There are some other common uses of the word とりあえず. If you’re at a drinking party, a 飲み会 (nomikai), or just out drinking with your buddies, someone might shout out:

  • とりあえず、ビール!
    Toriaezu, biiru!
    Let’s start with a beer!

Here とりあえず denotes the beginning of something (drinking) but also hints that there will be more to follow (more drinks, food).

Here’s a video that shows what I mean. I have it starting at 2:07 when they talk about とりあえず. Just watch until the 3:00 mark.

Make sense?

とりあえず could also be used to mean “at once” in contexts where you’re being requested to take some sort of action.

  • とりあえずこの薬を飲みなさい。
    Toriaezu kono kusuri o nominasai.
    Please take this medicine at once.

Or it can be used to indicate a transition between two things. For instances: after you eat, brush your teeth.

  • 食べたら、とりあえず歯を磨きなさい。
    Tabetara, toriaezu ha wo migaki nasai.
    After eating, the first thing to do is brush your teeth.

Now I want to hear from you guys! Where have you heard とりあえず before? Or is it a new word for you? Do know of any other ways it can be interpreted?

Let me know your thoughts about it with a comment below!

2 Comments

  • Amy

    This is really interesting and I never knew that toriaezu means, “for the time being; In the meantime” — I am planning a trip to Japan and I will make a note of how many times I hear that phrase being used! Your site is great and I will refer to it along my journey. Thank you!

    • Nick Hoyt

      Hey Amy, you are very welcome! 🙂 

      That’s pretty cool that you’re going on a trip over to Japan. Be sure to take lots of pictures while you’re over there. And there’s lots of useful information here on the site that can help you for while you’re visiting. If you’re looking for anything in particular, be sure to type it into the site’s search bar!

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