As you might know, Japanese people are lazy enough to abbreviate everything – we abbreviate “ice cream” as “ice (アイス)”, and “Brad Pitt” as “Brapi (ブラピ). This article introduces to you a plethora of abbreviated words and phrases in Japanese so that you won’t get confused by those cryptic expressions!
See this separate post below for Japanese portmanteau words (words that combine parts of multiple words), such as 居留守 (いるす, irusu) = 居る (“be”) + 留守 (” be away from home”) = “pretend to be away from home”
ブラッドピット (Brad Pitt)
木村拓哉 (きむらたくや, Takuya Kimura)
木村拓哉 is one of the most famous actors in Japan. He was a member of the disbanded male idol group “SMAP”, and he has been recognised as one of the most handsome men in Japan.
マツジュン (Mastsu jun)
松本潤（まつもとじゅん, Jun Matsumoto）
松本潤 is a member of the male idol group “嵐 (Arashi)” and starred in the TV drama “花より男子” (English: “Boys Over Flowers”/ Chinese: “花樣男子”).
新垣結衣 (あらがきゆい, Yui Aragaki)
新垣結衣 is one of the most popular actresses in Japan, and acted a “contract wife” in the Japanese TV drama “逃げ恥 (にげはじ)”, the abbreviation for “逃げるは恥だが役に立つ” (English: “The Full-Time Wife Escapist”/Chinese “逃避雖可恥但有用”/Taiwanese “月薪嬌妻”). When she announced her marriage in 2021, her avid fans felt heartbroken and suffered from ガッキーロス (“Gakki Loss”: heartbroken state of mind due to the loss of an opportunity to get married with Gakky); see the post below for more details.
ポケットモンスター (Pocket Monster)
スマッシュブラザーズ (Super Smash Bros.)
* マクド is used in Kansai only, and ク is accented.
Loanwords from English
スマートフォン (Smartphone )
エアーコンディショナー (Air Conditioner)
アイスクリーム (Ice Cream)
サブスクリプションサービス (Subscription Service)
コンビニエンスストア (Convenience Store)
パーソナルコンピューター (Personal Computer)
セクシャルハラスメント (Sexual Harassment)
Words about “Act” (活動)
婚活 is an abbreviation for “結婚活動 (けっこんかつどう)”, meaning “Marriage Act”
Meaning: to try to find someone to get married with
(e.g.) attend “婚活パーティー” (matchmaking party)
就活 (しゅうかつ, shūkatsu)
就活 is an abbreviation for 就職活動 (しゅうしょくかつどう) meaning “job-hunting act”
Meaning: things to do for job-hunting
(e.g.) have a job interview, attend a job fair
朝活 is an abbreviation for 朝の活動 (あさのかつどう), meaning “act in the morning”
Meaning: to do something productive in the morning (before work)
(e.g.) read books, study language, Yoga,
終活 (しゅうかつ, shūkatsu)
終活 is an abbreviation for “人生（じんせい）の終（お）わりのための活動” meaning “act for the end of one’s life”.
Meaning: to prepare for one’s death before one passes away
(e.g.) write a will, delete “inappropriate” data from one’s device, prepare one’s funeral and tomb
(Note) 就活 and 終活 are homonyms and their pronunciations are nearly the same. 終活 is relatively a new word, and not everyone does this kind of “act”.
Names of Countries
米 (べい, bei)
米国（べいこく）= アメリカ (U.S.)
英 (えい, ei)
英国（えいこく）= イギリス (U.K.)
豪 (ごう, gou)
豪州（ごうしゅう）= オーストラリア (Australia)
伊 (い, i)
伊太利亜 (いたりあ) = イタリア (Italy)
仏 (ふつ, futsu)
仏蘭西 (ふらんす)= ふらんす (France)
独 (どく, doku)
独逸 (どいつ)= ドイツ (Germany)
日豪首脳会談 (にちごうしゅのうかいだん) = Japan‐Australia Summit Meeting
英首相 (えいしゅしょう) = British Prime Minister
米大統領 (べいだいとうりょう) = US President
りょ or り
りょ or り are abbreviations for “了解 (りょうかい)” meaning “I got it”
A: 明日8時に東京駅で会おう (Let’s meet up at 8 pm at the Tokyo Station tomorrow.)
B: り (I got it)
(Note) These abbreviations are used only in a casual text (e.g., LINE, Messenger). Compared to “りょ”, the single-character abbreviation “り” is a relatively new slang term that has been used among young people lately, and might become obsolete in the near future due to its extreme ambiguity and lazy tone.
月９ is short for 月曜９時のドラマ, meaning “Jdrama series on air at 9 pm on Monday”. There is a word for it because traditionally lots of trendy Japanese dramas are aired during this time slot (but some people say this is not necessarily the case these days). This term is strongly associated with the Japanese actor 木村拓哉 (Kimura Takuya, a.k.a “Kimutaku”), who starred in several 月9 dramas that went viral in the 1990s and 2000s.
あけおめ is an abbreviation for “あけましておめでとうございます”, a Japanese greeting meaning “Happy New Year!”
Pronunciation More Detailed Explanations
アラサー is an abbreviation for the English phrase “around thirty” and describes people around 30 years old (26, 27 ~ 33, 34). Likewise, “アラフォー” means “around forty” and “アラフィフ” means “around fifty”. アラサー sometimes contains a connotation that they are not young anymore.
Many people start 婚活 when they’re around 30.
ディスる is an abbreviation for the English word “disrespect” and means “to diss/scorn/mock”
I’m very annoyed by being scorned by him
It’s short for Gokiburi (“cockroach”): a handy term to use when just saying or listening to its name freaks you out
I saw a “G” yesterday in my kitchen and thought I’d die.
タクシーに乗(の)る (catch a taxi)
ミスをする (make a mistake)
コピーを取(と)る (make a copy)
メモを取 (と) る (take a memo/note)
Googleで調 (しら) べる (search on Google)
事故 (じこ) る
事故に遭(あ)う (get into an accident)
Example Usage in Casual Speech
Check the following post