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Ecchi - Meaning in Japanese - エッチ

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Some manga and anime out there are classified as ecchi エッチ. These usually contain frequent erotic or adult imagery, including nudes, panty shots, etc., but aren't actually considered to be pornographic. But does the word ecchi have the same meaning when used in Japan? What does ecchi mean in Japanese?

Ecchi Anime Genre

In the western world, ecchi is a genre that's basically softcore pornography fiction with somewhat erotic content in the form of manga and anime. It doesn't refer to hardcore pornography, and it's certainly not used outside of the anime world. If it isn't a drawing, it can't be ecchi.

Most works classified as ecchi aren't about being erotic the same way porn is about being pornographic. Instead, the story of an ecchi manga or anime is usually about something else entirely, that just happens to have a lot of asses, boobs, panty shots, and sometimes nudes plastered all over it.

ecchi sports manga Keijo!!!!!!!! 競女!!!!!!!!

Definition of Ecchi

In Japan, ecchi has a completely different meaning. You could say it's pretty much the opposite of what we use ecchi for in the west.

For starters, the word ecchi is not about anime and manga at all. Obviously, the word ecchi comes from the Japanese language. Fans of anime in the west would hear it only in anime, but the people who live in Japan hear it from the mouth of other, real life people, who speak Japanese.  So in Japan ecchi can be used for any real life thing.

Second, ecchi in Japanese usually refers to sex and sexual things, sometimes even hardcore pornography. Its meaning isn't restricted to softcore porn drawings in Japan, it's a lot more broad.

Simple translations of ecchi would be "erotic," "sexual," or "dirty" in the "dirty thoughts" sense. The word ecchi is a slang, so for everything ecchi can mean there's usually a more normal word with same meaning. Also, it's used more by younger people.

Dirty Thoughts, Things & People

People who think "dirty" things or do "dirty" things can be called ecchi. This includes 120% of all high-school harem anime protagonists. The acts and thoughts themselves can also be called ecchi. So, in a way, ecchi can also mean "perverted" or "pervert":
  • ecchi na koto wo kangaeteiru エッチなことを考えている
    [He] is thinking perverted things!
    [He] is thinking dirty things!
  • X-kun wa ecchi! Xくんはエッチ!
    X is a perv!

Erotic & Pornographic

For certain things, ecchi can also mean "pornographic."
  • ecchi na manga エッチな漫画
    Dirty manga. Erotic manga. Porn manga.
  • ecchi na douga エッチな動画
    Dirty video. Erotic video. Porn video.
  • ecchi na shashin エッチな写真
    Dirty photos. Erotic photos. Porn photos.
  • ecchi na saito エッチなサイト
    Dirty website. Erotic website. Porn website.

Quote from Mahoujin Guru Guru 魔方陣グルグル in Japanese: ecchi na odori wo saseru desu!  エッチな踊りをさせるです! "I'll make you do an erotic dance!

In this sense, a word related to ecchi would be ero エロ, literally from "erotic," which can also mean "porn" in Japanese when used as an adjective.
  • ero douga エロ動画
    Erotic video. Porn video

Provocative & Slutty

When referring to clothes and people, ecchi エッチ can mean "slutty" or uh... how do you say "slutty" in English without offending someone? *checks dictionary* "Seductive," "alluring," "provocative," "foxy," etc.
  • ecchi na fuku エッチな服
    Slutty clothes. Provocative clothes. Seductive clothes.
  • ecchi na onna エッチな女
    Slutty woman. Provocative woman. Foxy woman.

In this sense, a related word would be eroi エロい, which just means "sexy." A bit sexy.

Literally Sex

Finally, ecchi can refer directly to sex itself. Including having even a verb form for this case.
  • ecchi エッチ
    Sex.
  • ecchi suru エッチする
    To have sex.
    To ecchi (literally)
  • echi wo suru エッチをする
    To have sex.
    To do the ecchi. (literally)

Do note that there's a word similar to ecchi that's also how you say "sex" and "to have sex" in Japanese.
  • sekkusu セックス
    Sex.
  • sekkusu suru セックスする
    To have sex.

The difference between ecchi エッチ and sekkusu セックス is that sekkusu, coming from the English "sex," literally and directly refers to sexual intercourse. Meanwhile, ecchi can be making out, petting, etc. on bed. You can pretend it's "to have sex" vs "to make love" or something.

Origin of The Word Ecchi エッチ

The word ecchi エッチ is not written with kanji but with katakana for a very good reason: it comes from English, not from Japanese itself. Well, at least not directly.

The word ecchi  comes from the letter H in English. This letter, H, for the non-native English speakers out there that didn't bother learning how the names of individual letters are pronounced in English, is pronounced "aitch." And from H, "aitch," that the Japanese word ecchi came from.

But why H?!?!?!

H & Ecchi

The modern origin of ecchi is said to have come from the word hentai 変態.

Basically, and, well, obviously, the word hentai starts with H. Though in Japanese there is no H. You can spell he-n-ta-i as へんたい, but you get a he syllable, two letters, together, not a H alone. Clearly a lot of languagery went on there for the H to come out of hentai, but it eventually did.

So hentai means "perverted" in Japanese, ecchi came to mean dirty, erotic things. That's pretty much it.

It seems that in the past ecchi also had other meanings, all of them derived from the letter H and some word somehow. For example, ecchi used to come from the H of the English word "husband," and it was used by women to talk about sex.

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