In English, it’s fairly common to use emojis to express your feelings in text. This is also the case in Japanese, which is quite evident given that the term “emoji” is loaned from the Japanese word 絵文字 (emoji) in the first place.
In addition to the emojis, the Japanese language also has another type of expressions that helps you deliver your feelings in a chat. These expressions are written in parentheses and put at the end of a sentence or phrase; the most popular one is probably “(笑)”, which is often translated as “lol” in English. This post provides you with a list of such bracketed expressions and explains how to use them in context!
Table of Contents
Reading: (kakko) wara/warai
It stands for “笑い (warai)”, meaning “a laugh”, and is nearly equivalent to “lol” in English. These days, it is also common to omit the parentheses, i.e. “笑”, or use the left parenthesis only, i.e. “(笑”.
Oh, thanks (lol)
That’d be impossible for him/her (lol)
It stands for 爆笑 (bakushou), meaning “laugh so hard”. Therefore, it is stronger than (笑) and the closest English term is probably “lmao”. However, very few people use it nowadays and it’s getting out of date.
What, did I say such a thing? I forgot everything (lmao)
Yes, this is not a typo; just parentheses without any word in between. This “term” originates from (笑) by omitting 笑 instead of the parentheses, and it is usually used when you ridicule or sneer at someone, or when you self-deprecate yourself (see the examples below). It is usually also put after either a sentence or word/phrase that you want to show contempt for.
Note, however, that, since it is sort of a “deep” internet slang term, some people (esp. old generations) may not understand it whatsoever. Therefore, you probably want to limit its use on social media or online forums only, or when you text a very close friend who has a good understanding of those kinds of slang terms.
an idol who is too —wait for it— “angelic”
If you read this book, apparently you can “master” Japanese in three days.
I completely forgot that I had an exam today (haha…)
It literally means “this company ratio” and is usually used when a company announces some positive change/improvement over its previous products/services. As slang, it also means “compared to the usual/old me” and is often used when you talk about the self-improvement/positive thing you did while clarifying that it is relative to you rather than absolute.
Compared to standard containers (in comparison to our previous products), we were able to decrease the amount of plastic consumption by 50%.
I woke up early today (earlier than my usual time)
白目 literally means “white eye(s)” and often indicates (figuratively) that your eyes are rolled up because you are completely drained of energy and spirit. Therefore, when （白目） is put at the end of a sentence, that means the person is in an extremely problematic situation. Usually, it is used with a positive word/phrase that jokes about one’s hapless situation in a self-deprecating way (see the examples below).
Because I have five exams next week, I’m really looking forward to it (eyes rolled up)
Since I got fired today, I’ll have plenty of time to do games from tomorrow (eyes rolled up).
* In Japanese, the emoji with halo 😇 is often used in a similar way to （白目）. This is because we regard this emoji as a dead person rather than an angel or symbol of innocence.
Tomorrow, I have to wake up at 5 in the morning 😇 (I’m so dead).
It stands for 怒り (ikari, “anger”) and is mostly equivalent to the angry emoji 😡
It stands for 泣き (naki, “crying”) and is mostly equivalent to the crying emojis 😂 or 😭.
汗 means “sweat” and is mostly equivalent to sweat emojis 😅 or 💦 (yes, we think it’s sweat and not something else).
It stands for 省略 (shouraku), meaning “abbreviation/omission”, and is used when you omit something in a text. In this sense, it is very similar to an ellipsis mark or three dots (…) in English. It’s more formally written as （以下略）(ika ryaku) meaning “omitting the rest”. In a formal context, it is used just to omit irrelevant parts and make a document easier to read. In a casual context, it is used when you avoid explicitly mentioning something (e.g. swearing) that is easily guessed from the context.
On the internet forums such as 5ch, people used to use “(ry” as a further abbreviated expression of (以下略), but it’s getting outdated nowadays.
My boss is always criticising me and he is so (the rest omitted)