What Is “Ugly” In Japanese?

Yesterday I talked all about the word cute, so today I figured that I would change things around. I mean, let’s be honest: there are some ugly things out there! But in order to talk about them, you have to know the right words. What is ugly in Japanese?

We’ll focus on that in the first part of today’s post. Then I’d actually like to spend a little bit of time going over a unique Japanese insult that has to do with being ugly. It’s one of those words that’s good to know so that you don’t accidentally say it.

It sounds really close to an English loan word that gets used every day, so that’s why I bring it up.

Finally, I thought there were some related words like creepy and lame that would be good to learn at this time.

Let’s hop right in and start learning!

How To Say Ugly In Japanese

The Japanese word for ugly is 醜い (minikui) which is kind of an interesting kanji because of the two radicals that it’s made up of. One of them is the kanji for “ogre” which is 鬼 and the other one is nearly identical to 酒 for “sake” which is Japanese alcohol.

Who knows, perhaps there was a connection between these two things in the minds of the Chinese people when they first created this character. Something like people become ugly, or a brute, when they drink too much alcohol.

If learning kanji from their historical origin is something that interests you, then check out my review on The World Of Kanji which is a great book that teaches a little over 2,000 characters using this exact method.

At any rate, you can use this word pretty much the same way we would in English when describing things as being ugly.

  • 一番醜い男
  • ichiban minikui okoto
  • the ugliest man

There is also another word that can be used to say that someone, or something, is ugly.

That word is 不細工 (busaiku) and the dictionary lists several definitions for it including “plain looks; homely; unattractive” but all of the Japanese people I’ve talked to about it just say that it means “ugly” and it’s kind of mean as well.

It would probably be best if you avoided using these words yourself, but you’ll no doubt run into the in things like anime and manga, so it’s always a good idea to learn them so that you understand them when you encounter them.

  • 不細工な顔
  • busaikuna kao
  • ugly face

Hey man, I can’t help it… I was born this way!

Don’t Use This Insult With Girls

I’ve talked before about curse words in Japanese, although it has been quite a while since I originally wrote that post.

One of the “bad words” that I talked about was ブス (busu) which is a derogatory insult that means “extremely ugly woman” in Japanese.

This is one that you’ll never want to say as it’s mean and hurtful. But I’ve actually been hearing it a lot in the anime that I just recently started watching (俺好き).

It sounds similar to the word バス (basu) which means “bus” in Japanese, so make sure you don’t use ブス by mistake!

At any rate, there is actually a way to spell this word in kanji that I thought would be good to cover as it is related to the first word we covered for “ugly” earlier.

The kanji is 醜女 (busu) which combines that kanji for ugly with the kanji for woman. Makes sense, right?

I figured that if there was one for gals, then there must be one for guys too. And as it turns out, there is!

That word is 醜男 (buotoko) which is the same formation as the woman insult, but for dudes.

I have to admit though, I’ve never seen this word used by Japanese people before.

Perhaps I’m just not watching the right shows or reading the right books for it, but generally speaking when I hear a Japanese girl insulting a guy, it’s with the words that are in these next two sections.

How To Say Creepy In Japanese

How To Say Creepy In Japanese

In my experience, girls tend to put less emphasis on a guy’s looks than some of his other traits, like his demeanor or personality.

That’s why it’s not uncommon to see a really attractive woman with a mediocre or even ugly man. But then you meet the guy, and he’s actually super cool and really confident.

However, on the other side of things… Sometimes you’ll see a guy who isn’t bad looking at all, but the women avoid him like crazy!

When asked why, the most common response that they give is that the guy is just “creepy” or something along those lines.

Well, I’m not here to solve that problem. Instead, I just want to help you learn the Japanese word for creepy so that you know it.

The way that this typically gets expressed in Japanese is by saying something along the lines of “bad feeling.”

For example, the word 感じ悪い (kanji warui) is literally “feeling-bad” and can be used to say that some dude is a total creeper!

Another common way to say it is 気持ち悪い (kimochi warui) which pretty much means the same thing. The interesting thing about this phrase however, is that there is an abbreviated version that gets used as slang all the time.

It is キモい (kimoi) and means “gross; disgusting” and can be used to label someone as being creepy.

So whatever you do, don’t be a creep!

How To Say Lame In Japanese

But you know what? Sometimes a dude is pretty normal, he’s just trying too hard to look cool in front of everyone.

When that happens, he sometimes ends up looking like a dork and people call him lame.

In Japanese, the way to say this is with the expression かっこ悪い (kakko warui) which means “lame; uncool” and so on.

  • 世界一かっこ悪い
  • sekaiichi kakko warui
  • the lamest in the world

In other words, this insult has more to do with a person’s appearance in either their fashion sense, or the way the come off when performing some sort of action (like doing a flip).

It’s not quite as damaging as acting like a creep, which is more of a personality thing.

All Done With The Insults

I know for a fact that none of these mean words apply to anyone reading this blog right now 😉

But maybe you’ll come across them while enjoying some Japanese material and now you’ll be able to understand them pretty well.

If you’ve got any questions that you want to ask, or if there is anything that you would like to add to the conversation, then please do so in the comments section below.


Leave a Comment