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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hayai, Hayai and Osoi - Meaning in Japanese

Two words that show up a lot in battle anime and manga are hayai 早い, hayai 速い, and osoi 遅い... wait, what? There are three of them! Let me say it again, this time without the kanji: hayai and osoi. These words are usually related to the characters' speed, but their meanings are more than just that.

The word hayai 速い means "fast" in Japanese. It's an -i adjective, so you can say things like hayaku, hayakute, hayakatta, etc. Its antonym, osoi 遅い, means, well, it means "slow" in Japanese, of course. Except when it doesn't.

The word hayai 早い, with the 早 kanji instead of the 速 kanji, has a slightly different meaning: it means "early",  and not "fast". If you go fast, you usually get there early, but one thing doesn't necessarily means the other. Like hayai 速い, the word osoi 遅い is also an antonym for it, meaning osoi can also mean "late" as well as "slow."

The meaning of the words hayai 速い and osoi 遅い in Japanese, "fast" and "late", written under the characters Sonic and Saitama from the anime One Punch Man ワンパンマン

Vocabulary

Though the words sound equal, they are homonyms, there are differences in meaning between the two kanji, 速 and 早,  so they aren't synonyms too. This is despite the two hayai being almost the same most of the time.

Here are some words with each kanji so you can tell the difference between their usage.

Hayai 速い

First, the one we already know:
  • hayai 速い
    To be fast. To be quick.

Now some speed levels.
  • sokudo 速度
    Speed. Speed level. How fast something is.
  • kousoku 高速
    High speed.
  • teisoku 低速
    Low speed.
  • Speed learning.
  • onsoku 音速
    Speed of sound.
  • kousoku 光速
    Speed of light.

And then, some words to do things... fast.
  • sokutatsu 速達
    Express delivery.
  • sokketsu 速決
    Fast decision. Rash decision.
  • sokudoku 速読
    Quick reading.
  • sokkou  速攻
    Quick attack.
  • sokkou 速効
    Quick effect.
  • sokushuu 速習

Hayai 早い

Again, the word we already know:
  • hayai 早い
    Early. To be early.

And then we have these adverbs withtwo hayai instead of one.
  • sassoku 早速
    To do it now or soon. Let's go
  • hayahaya 早々
    To do soon.

Then we have these words about the time of the day.
  • souchou 早朝
    Early in the morning.
  • souban 早晩
    Early or late. Morning or evening. Eventually.

And finally these about doing things early.
  • hayaoki 早起き
    Wake up early.
  • hayane 早寝
    Go sleep early.
  • soutai 早退
    Leave early, or earlier than normal.

Osoi 遅い

First the word we already know, which has two meanings, as we already know.
  • osoi 遅い
    Slow or late.

Then some antonyms for hayai 速い.
  • titatsu 遅達
    Delayed delivery. Late delivery.
  • tishinji 遅進児
    Child that learns slowly.
    (literally "child that advances slowly")
  • tikou 遅行
    Delayed effect. Slow effect.

Then some antonyms for hayai 早い.
  • okureru 遅れる
    To be late. To delay.
  • okure 遅れ
    A delay. Lag..
  • osojimai 遅じまい
    To close late. (a shop, etc.)
  • osoku naru 遅くなる
    To be for later. To do something later.
  • tikoku 遅刻
    To be late somewhere. To get there after the right time. (school, etc.)
  • tiharai 遅払い
    Late pay. Delayed pay.

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