Do you fancy Japanese slang words and want to learn something very “deep“? Then it’s time to learn Japanese old, classic slang words and phrases (i.e. 死語, “dead words”)! Well, probably you might question the necessity of learning *old-fashioned* expressions, but I’m telling you that it’s always a lot of fun to learn the history of a language and see how its trend has changed over the decades! In addition, some of the expressions are still used on purpose by some people to make jokes or act as stereotypical aged/old-fashioned people, especially on social media such as Twitter.
First, I start with slang expressions with 逆さ読み (reading words in reverse order; back slang), which represent the “bubbly” and auspicious era in the late 1980s, when Japan’s over-inflated bubble economy reached its pinnacle.
* I don’t want to scare you away, but this post is definitely one of the most outlandish articles on this website, so be careful about when and where to use these expressions below (e.g. you probably don’t wanna use them in a job interview, or when you meet someone for the first time)!
“Back Slang” in Japanese
In the late 1980s, it was once a big trend among the people working in the TV industry to create their jargon by reading words in (partially) reverse order. Eventually, these “back slang words” spread to ordinary people after some celebrities (esp. a comedy duo とんねるず) had started to use them on TV shows. Although most of them are now quite old-fashioned, some people still use them as jokes or humorous expressions.
Here is the list of famous “back slang” words and phrases; see more details at my previous post “ザギンでシースー: 12 Japanese “Reverse” Slang Words From 1980s”
(All of the words are written in katakana here, but hiragana is also fine.)
Meaning: 銀座 (ぎんざ), “Ginza”
Meaning: 六本木 (ろっぽんぎ, “Roppongi”)
Meaning: 寿司 (すし), “sushi”
Meaning “to eat sushi in Roppongi/Ginza”; one of the most famous “back slang” phrases. Roppongi and Ginza are one of the most lucrative cities in Japan, and some people (esp. those in the TV industry) presumably said these phrases to make their dinner plan sound special and prestigious.
Meaning: おっぱい, “tit”
Meaning: でかい, “big”.
Meaning: “ねーちゃん” (“older sister/girl/chick”)
パイオツ カイデーな チャンネー
Meaning: “a chick with big tits”; one of the most famous back slang phrases.
Meaning: ごめん “sorry”; it is often used as “メンゴメンゴ”, meaning “Soz soz” to apologise in a very casual way.
Meaning “そっくり” (“very alike/exactly look like ~”)
Meaning もしもし (“Hello?”: an expression Japanese people use when they answer the phone.)
Meaning お洒落 (おしゃれ) (“fashionable”); this word is less outdated than the others, and is still used among young people sometimes.
Expressions With a Pun
This section introduces old-fashioned expressions that make a pun in themselves. These are very practical expressions to use when you want to deliberately sound very lame or old-fashioned.
ワケワカメ is a joking way of saying 訳がわからない meaning “I don’t understand at all”. ワカメ (wakame) is a type of edible seaweed popular in Japan, and it is used as a substitute for “わからない” in this phrase.
アイムソーリーヒゲソーリー is an old-fashioned famous pun in Japanese. The first part “アイムソーリー” means “I’m sorry” and the second part “ヒゲソーリー” means “ひげ剃り”, i.e. “a razor”. Some people also add the name of the Prime Minister (総理, そうり) afterwards to make another pun with ソーリー, e.g. “アイムソーリー ヒゲソーリー安倍ソーリー”.
許してちょんまげ is a very non-serious way of saying “許してちょうだい” meaning “Please forgive me”. ちょんまげ means a top-knot hairstyle of samurai, and it is used as a substitute for “ちょうだい” meaning “please” in this phrase.
当たり前だのクラッカー is a joking way of saying “当たり前だ” meaning “of course” or “(something is) very obvious”. The latter part “のクラッカー” is added to make a pun with the name of the traditional Japanese snack “前田のクラッカー (Maeda’s cracker)”. This phrase gained its popularity after it was used in the TV commercials of the product in the 1960s.
This rhyming phrase consists of three words “エッチ” (“sexually naughty”), スケッチ (“sketch”) and ワンタッチ (“one-touch”). It doesn’t quite have a specific meaning or usage, but is something that we said or heard somewhere in our childhood (in the 1990s).
そんなバナナ is a jocular way of saying “そんなバカな” meaning “No way!” or “That can’t be true”. As you see, バナナ (“banana”) is used as a substitute for “バカな” in this phrase.
冗談はよしこちゃん is a joking way of saying “冗談はよして”, meaning “please stop kidding”. よしこちゃん is “Yoshiko-chan”, i.e. the girl’s name “Yoshiko” with the Japanese honorific “chan” attached.
余裕のよっちゃんmeans “easy-peasy/a piece of cake”, where 余裕 means “very easy” and よっちゃん is a common nickname for someone whose name starts from よ, e.g. よしこ (, which means nothing here, like “peasy” in “easy-peasy”.)
Combination of Two Words
This section introduces old slang words that are coined by combining two different words.
飲みにケーション means “communication through drinking together”. It combines two words “飲む” (“drink”) and コミニケーション (“communication”). Some (old-fashioned) people insist that 飲みにケーション be indispensable to build a “real” relationship (and that explains why many Japanese people go for drinks with their boss and colleagues after work, and sleep like a log on the train home.)
バイナラ means “bye-bye/see you”. It combines two words “バイバイ” (bye-bye) and “さよなら” (“sayonara”).
ダイジョウV is a joking way of saying “大丈夫 (だいじょうぶ)” meaning “I’m fine/no problem”. It combines “大丈夫” with ブイ (“V”), which adds a casual (and nowadays lame) vibe to the word.
すいま千円/すいませんべい is a joking way of saying “すいません” meaning “I’m sorry”. It combines すいません with 千円 (1000 yen) or せんべい (Japanese rice crackers) for no reason.
いただきマンモス is a joking way of saying “いただきます”, an expression to show your gratitude for food before you eat it. It combines いただきます with マンモス “mammoth” for no reason.
Loanwords (mainly from English)
This section introduces old-fashioned slang words based on foreign languages (mainly English).
チョベリバ and チョベリグ are slang terms that used to be popular among female teenagers in the late 1990s (Nowadays, these words are often used to mock these people back then.) The words stand for “超ベリーバッド” and “超ベリーグッド” resp., where 超 (ちょう) means “extremely/super” and ベリーバッド/ベリーグッド are “very bad/good”. Therefore, it means “super very bad/good” (quite redundant indeed, but the redundancy is sort of mitigated by the abbreviation).
OK牧場 means “OK/no problem”, which used to be frequently said by a former boxing world champion ガッツ石松 (いしまつ). Usually, “牧場” means “a farm”, but it means nothing in this phrase (like “Dokey” in “Okey-Dokey”).
アベック is a very old-fashioned word meaning “a couple”. It is loaned from the French word “avec”, meaning “with” (as in, a couple always do things with each other).
おニュー means “brand new”, where ニュー is loaned from “new” in English and “お” is an honorific prefix. In the Kansai area, its synonym (in terms of the meaning, vibe and obsolescence) is “さらぴん“, which emphasises the more standard Kansai dialect word “さら”, meaning “new”.
ナウい means “new/trendy/fashionable” and comes from the English term “now”. However, this word itself does not sound new anymore (although it is still well recognised as one of the outdated slang terms; so technically it’s still alive).
タンマ means “hold on/one moment”, which is loaned from “time” in English. Usually, it is used as “ちょっとタンマ” (“hold on a bit”), where ちょっと means “a bit”.
トゥギャザーしようぜ means “Let’s do (something) together”, and is coined by a Japanese comedian ルー大柴, whose comedy style is to make jokes by combining Japanese and English words (as in this phrase).
ヤング means “young people”, and it is often used as “ナウなヤング” or “ナウいヤング” meaning “fashionable/trendy young people”
アウトオブ眼中 is an old-fashioned way of saying “眼中にない, which literally means “not in my eyes” and figuratively means “I don’t care at all/don’t give a sh*t”. It combines the English phrase “out of ~” and the Japanese word “眼中” meaning “in one’s eyes”.
グー and バッチグー mean “good” and “very good”, respectively. Here, グー is short for グッド, and バッチ is short for ばっちり, meaning “perfect(ly)”.
３K and３高, meaning “three highs”, stand for “高学歴、高身長、高収入“, which literally means “high education background, high height, and high salary”. This word used to be very popular among girls to describe their ideal men who are highly educated (e.g. go to a prestigious university), very tall (e.g. over 180 cm), and have a high-salary job. Although this word has become obsolete per se, the popularity of such men has never ever faded away, needless to say. In fact, young people nowadays use another term, “ハイスペック” (“high-spec”) or “ハイスペ” in short, to describe those attractive men in a less explicit manner. However, compared to ３K or ３高, ハイスペック is more gender-neutral and used by both men and women to describe people who have impressive skills and careers in general.
ガーン and がびーん are both exclamations which you say when you are disappointed/shocked in a bad way (e.g. when you know you’ve failed an exam). It is still used sometimes in manga or anime (e.g. ちびまる子ちゃん), but rarely heard in real life anymore.
ヨロピク is a joking way of saying “よろしく”, a very common Japanese greeting which you use when they ask someone to do something, or when you show your willingness to build a good relationship with someone. See also: 7 Ways of Saying/Writing よろしく (yoroshiku) in Japanese
かわい子ちゃん means “cute girls/cuties”. Here, かわい子 is short for “かわいい子 (cute girl)”, and ちゃん is a Japanese honorific used for children and girls.
ドロンする is a very old-fashioned word that means “go home/leave/disappear”. It used to be frequently said in the expression, “お先にドロンします“, meaning “Excuse me, I’m leaving now (earlier than you)”.
イケイケ means “energetic/lively/active” or “cool/cute/hot”. It can describe both things and people, as in “イケイケな時代” (lively/positive era) and “イケイケな人” (energetic, active, cool person).
花金 or (華金)
花金 (or 華金) means “Happy Friday” or “TGIF” and is often used when people go for a drink on Friday after work. Although it is usually regarded as an outdated word, some people still use it since there is no other term to describe the joy of drinking on Friday night. For instance, you can say “今日は花金だし、飲もう” meaning “Since today’s 花金, let’s have a drink!”.
インド人もびっくり literally means “Even Indian people are surprised”. This expression had become popular in the 1960s once it was used in the TV commercials for Japanese curry roux that hype its taste as “Even Indian people are amazed (by the taste)”. Therefore, as a parody, you can use this phrase to describe something nice, or simply to show your amazement at something.
モチのロン is a humorous, old-fashioned and redundant way of saying もちろん, meaning “of course”. Here, neither モチ nor ロン has any meaning.
うれぴー is a casual way of saying “嬉しい (happy)”. When you are super happy, you can say マンモスうれぴー, where マンモス (“mammoth”) is figuratively used to describe the humungous amount of happiness. These phrases were coined by a famous actress 酒井法子 (Noriko Sakai), a.k.a. のりぴー in late 1980. Although she was arrested in 2009 on drug charges, she returned to the media after a long period of suspension.
マブダチ means “real friend” or “best friend”, where ダチ is short for 友達 (friend).
社会の窓 literally means “the window of the society”, but actually refers to “the fly of trousers”. It is used as “社会の窓が開いてますよ” (“The window of the society is open”) when you tell someone (esp. men) in a humorous way that their fly is open. Learn more at “Japanese Old Slang 社会の窓 (shakai no mado)”
A Funny Japanese Song About Outdated Slang
There is a very unique (but not very famous) Japanese song that would help you remember those outdated Japanese slang: “ナウなヤングにバカウケするのは当たり前だのクラッ歌“, a song written and sung by the popular Japanese singer-songwriter あいみょん (Aimyon). This song features a variety of Japanese old-fashioned expressions, most of which are covered in this article. First of all, as you see, the title contains four old slang words: ナウな (trendy/new), ヤング (young people), バカウケ (very funny), 当たり前だのクラッ歌 (a modified version of “当たり前田のクラッカー”; 歌 means “song”).
Here is the link to the YouTube video:
If you like this song, there are a great number of beautiful songs made and sung by あいみょん; I’d like to conclude this article by sharing some of my favourite songs of hers with the links to her official YouTube videos!
This is the most popular song of hers in terms of the number of views on YouTube (more than 200 Million views). This is quite a nice song to listen to, especially in summer!