ヤンキー (yankee) is a Japanese word that means “loutish youths (usually between the ages of 13 and 18)”. In other words, they are sort of the Japanese equivalent of “chav” in the UK. Basically, they inhabit a rural area of Japan such as Ibaraki or Okinawa Prefecture, and seldom appear in Tokyo. They are characterised by their loutish behaviour and unique appearance: they often dye their hair blonde and wear modified school uniforms or long jackets embroidered with kanji characters that signify their group names and mottos. They often attempt to provoke or intimidate others for no reason, and some of them extort money especially from younger students in the same school (kohai). Extortion done by yankee or gangsters is called “カツアゲ (katsuage)” in Japanese.
Synonyms: 不良 and DQN
Both 不良 (furyou) and DQN (doqun) are synonyms of ヤンキー. “不良” literally means “not good” and indicates juvenile delinquents. 不良 and ヤンキー are mostly interchangeable, but 不良 sounds more modern while ヤンキー sounds a bit old-fashioned and is often associated with students in the countryside who ride their noisy motorbikes with illegal exhausts.
DQN, on the other hand, was coined as the Internet slang and contains much more causal and mocking tones. As of 2021, the term has been getting out of date.
Related Word ヤンキー座り (Asian Squat)
ヤンキー座り literally means “Yankee sitting” and actually means so-called “Asian squat”. This is because, stereotypically ヤンキー do the Asian squat in front of a convenience store, smoking cigarettes and glaring at passersby. Some people make fun of their sitting style as “うんこ座り” meaning “sh*t sitting” because it resembles how you take a sh*t at 和式 (washiki) toilet, a traditional Japanese-style toilet.
I was approached by female louts at the park and it was so scary.
I feel really ashamed of my son being a loutish boy.
Being influenced by Yutaka Ozaki, a great number of juvenile delinquents stole motorbikes and broke windows at school.
尾崎豊 is a very famous Japanese singer who has released many songs that embody rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. It is said that a great number of 不良/ヤンキー imitated the behaviour written in the lyrics of his songs, such as stealing bikes and breaking windows at school. Unfortunately, he died of a drug overdose at the age of 26 in 1992.
Synonyms: 不良, DOQ (loutish students, juvenile delinquents)
Synonyms in English: loutish students, chav, yob, lout
Related words and phrases: 座る (sit)