図星 (zuboshi) means “exactly right” or “admittedly quite true”, and is used when one hits the nail on the head about someone. In particular, this word is used when one makes a critical or embarrassing statement about someone which makes them upset, baffled or grasping at straws because it is so true and undeniable. For instance, if your friend says “You are falling in love with her, aren’t you?” and that remark makes you silent or obviously upset, he/she would go on to say “図星だろ? (zuboshi daro?)“, meaning “That’s 図星 (exactly right), isn’t it?”.
As in the example above, this word is usually used as it is with or without a copula as follows:
- 図星？=> “Is that exactly right?”
- 図星+でしょ (desho) or だろ (daro)？=> “That’s exactly right, isn’t it?”.
- 図星+だ (da) or です (desu) => “(admittedly) quite right”
(e.g. You’d say “図星です” when someone’ guess regarding you is exactly right.)
Word Structure and Origin
図星 consists of the two kanji characters “図” (zu) meaning “figure” and “星” (boshi) meaning “star“. Originally, 図星 indicates a black point in the middle of a target. Then, it started to be used when someone spots one’s weakness or secret, or when someone points out something quite right. Note that 星 is pronounced as “ぼし (boshi)”, which is different from the common pronunciation “ほし (hoshi)”
GF: Yesterday I saw you walking with a girl I don’t know
YOU: … W,what? T-t-t-t-hat can’t be true!
GF: I just said it as a joke, but … was it 図星 (actually true)?
A: You regret quitting the club, don’t you
B: Yea, 図星だわ (that’s is admittedly quite right)
It seems what she said to Tanaka was 図星 (exactly right), and he was totally upset.