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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ojisan, Ojiisan, Obasan, Obaasan - Difference

So you might have heard one of these words in anime: ojisan 伯父さん, ojiisan お祖父さん, obasan伯母さん and obaasan お祖母さん. Yep. Four words. Both ojisan and ojiisan and obasan and obaasan are different words. They aren't the same word at all, they just sound very alike.

To begin with, both ojisan 伯父さん means "uncle"  and obasan 伯母さん means "auntie." For the other pair, ojiisan お祖父さん means "grandfather" and obaasan お祖母さん means "grandmother." But that's not all.

What about obachan, obaachan, ojichan, ojiichan, obasama, obaasama, ojisama and, finally, ojiisama? Those are just the same words with different honorifics! So ojichan, ojisan and ojiisama are three ways to call your "uncle" with different nuances each. Just like it works with oniichan 御兄ちゃん and oniisan 御兄さん.

The Random Old Man Ojisan

You might also have noticed that in anime there are often cases someone is called ojisan 伯父さん but they are, obviously, not anybody's "uncle."

In these cases, ojisan has another meaning, of an "old man." It's a slang and can be both a friendly way of referring to someone or a sarcastic way of teasing someone. A more serious way of saying "old man" in Japanese would be roujin 老人 which refers to an "old person."


So that's how you get anime titles like ojisan to marshmallow おじさんとマシュマロ which have nothing to do with uncles.

The Random Obasan

Likewise, obasan can be used for women.

The words obachan, obasama, ojichan, ojisama, etc. also work each applying their own nuances.

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