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図星 (zuboshi) is an advanced Japanese word that means “exactly right” or “admittedly true”. It is used when you hit the nail on the head about someone, especially when you make an accurate statement about someone which makes them very upset because it is so true and undeniable. For instance, if your friends say “You are in love with her, aren’t you?” and that makes you obviously upset, they would go on to say “図星だろ? (zuboshi daro?)”, meaning “That’s so true, isn’t it?”.
This word is usually used with or without a copula (e.g. だ, です), as follows:
- 図星？=> “Is that right/true?”
- 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”
* You say “図星です” when you admit that someone’s guess is exactly right.
Word Origin and Structure
図星 consists of two kanji characters “図” (zu) meaning “figure” and “星” (boshi) meaning “star”. Originally, 図星 indicates the middle point of an archery target, and then it started to be used when someone spots one’s exact weakness or secret. Here, 星 reads “ぼし (boshi)”, which is different from the common reading “ほし (hoshi)”
GF: Yesterday I saw you walking with a girl I don’t know
YOU: … Wh, what? No way!!!
GF: I just said it as a joke, but … was it actually true?
A: You regret quitting the club, don’t you
B: Yea, that’s is admittedly quite right.
It seems what she said to Tanaka was very true, and he was totally upset.
Synonyms: 当たっている (that’s right), ぐうの音も出ない
Synonyms in English: exactly right, admittedly right, hit home, close to the bone
Related words and phrases: 図 (figure), 星 (star)