And kanji with manga
Thursday, July 21, 2016

baka 馬鹿, バカ

In Japanese, baka バカ, also spelled baka 馬鹿, means "stupid," or "idiot." In some more complex phrases, it can mean other stuff too.
理由はすぐ分かった ぱーーーーん わひひあひー この男バカなのである
Character: Nendou Riki 燃堂 力
Manga: Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan 斉木楠雄のΨ難 (Chapter 2, 最低Ψ悪!?燃堂力)

How to Write Baka in Japanese?

The word baka is written with katakana or with kanji:
  • baka バカ
  • baka 馬鹿

The katakana version is much easier to write and recognize, so it's sometimes preferred, specially since the kanji used to write baka are kanji for animals, which aren't seen with much frequency.

Kanji of Baka

The two kanji of the word baka 馬鹿 are also the kanji for the words:
  • uma
  • shika 鹿

So based on the kanji's meanings, you could guess the word baka should mean something about the animals "horse" and "deer," right? Horse and deer. Horse deer. A horsey deer. What's that even supposed to mean?!?!

How baka is written in Japanese.
Anime: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash Bell!! 金色のガッシュベル!!

It doesn't really mean anything.

Nobody is really sure where the word baka comes from. Some say it's related to a Chinese story about people who couldn't tell a deer from a horse, others say it's a loaned word from another language. Either way, in the Japanese language somehow joining a horse and a deer together means "stupid." It doesn't matter how it's written, baka means "stupid."

Calling People Stupid in Japanese

People who don't know much about Japanese will sometimes be tempted to call other people "stupid" by saying phrases like this:

Although the phrases above are all technically, grammatically correct, you'd sound very stupid trying to call someone stupid in the ways above. This is because of two reasons:
  1. Using a second person pronoun like anata, omae isn't common in Japan.
  2. The word desu is polite speech. Are you calling people stupid or trying to be polite?

The proper way of calling someone stupid in Japanese would be more like this:
  • baka! 馬鹿!

Yes, I know it sounds weird, it's just one word. But that really is the way.

If you say something like omae wa baka da お前は馬鹿です, it sounds like you're stating a fact, not actually insulting anyone. It sounds like you're saying "you are an idiot" the same way you'd say "you are a shopkeeper."

That happens mostly because that phrase has the copula da だ. A character known for calling people stupid in this matter-of-fact way is Doraemon:
  • kimi wa jitsuni baka da na きみはじつにばかだな
    You are truly stupid, huh.

Besides da だ, the words desu です, de aru である, are also copulas that will sound like you're stating a fact rather than swearing at somebody.

理由はすぐ分かった ぱーーーーん わひひあひー この男バカなのである
Manga: Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan 斉木楠雄のΨ難 (Chapter 2, 最低Ψ悪!?燃堂力)
  • Context: Saiki explains why he can't figure out what Nendou is thinking.
  • riyuu wa
    sugu wakatta

    The reason [I] understood immediately.
  • paaan
    *ta da!* (sound effect used when something is presented, in this case, Nendou, the character.)
  • wahihi ahii
    わひひ あひー
    *idiotic snickering*
  • kono otoko
    nano de aru

    This man is an idiot.

Are You Stupid?

A way to ask if someone is an idiot is to simply add the doubt particle ka か after the word baka. For example:
  • baka ka? バカか?
    An idiot?
    [Are you] an idiot?
  • baka desu ka? バカですか?
    Are [you] an idiot?
  • anata wa baka desu ka? あなたはバカですか?
    Are you an idiot?

Sometimes it comes with extra sentence-ending particles, or even words.
  • baka ka yo?! バカかよ?!
    [Are you] an idiot?!
  • baka ka omae? バカかお前?
    An idiot, you?
    [Are] you an idiot?

Baka Janai No? バカじゃないの?

In Japanese, the phrase baka janai no? バカじゃないの? means "[are you] stupid?" But it can be a bit tricky to understand.

To start with, janai じゃない is a negative copula. It means "isn't." If de aru である is affirmative, then de nai でない, dewanai ではない, and the contraction janai じゃない are negative. As they all have the nai ない auxiliary.
  • baka da バカだ
    Is stupid.
  • baka janai バカじゃない
    Is not stupid.

When you add the no の particle to it, it turns the phrase into a question. More specifically, it's trying to confirm an statement.
  • baka janai no? バカじゃない
    "Is not stupid," is this true?

Since it's implied "stupid" refers to "[you]," the phrase becomes:
  • "[You] are not stupid," is this true?
  • Are you sure "you are not stupid?"

But since that's too long, it's more natural to translate it as:
  • baka janai no? バカじゃないの?
    [Are you] stupid?

Baka Nano? バカなの?

The phrase baka nano? バカなの is another way to say "[are you] stupid?" in Japanese. This phrase has the particles nano なの instead of just no の.

Manga: Erased, Boku dake ga Inai Machi 僕だけがいない街 (Chapter 7, 失われた時間)
  • baka nano?
    [Are you] stupid?

I'm Stupid

Although normally you'll want to call other people stupid, sometimes you have to admit that it's you the stupid one. In this case, you wouldn't say simply baka, you'd use a first-person pronoun like watashi, ore, boku to explicitly indicate who's stupid.

オレはバカだ あの時から少しも成長しちゃいない
Manga: Fullmetal Alchemist, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi 鋼の錬金術師 (Chapter 6, 破壊の右手)
  • Context: Edward sulks over his ineptitude.
  • ore wa baka da
    I'm stupid.
  • ano toki kara
    sukoshi mo
    seichou shichainai

    [I] haven't matured even a little since that time.
  • I.e. Edward did something stupid before, and he feels he didn't learn anything since that time, he hasn't matured, grown up, improved, etc. Nothing changed, and he's doomed to repeat the same mistakes he did in the past. He implies he's an idiot because he hasn't learned from his past mistakes.

Adjective Usage of Baka

Baka na... バカな◯

The word baka can be used as an adjective to say something is a "stupid thing." In order to do this, you say the word baka, the Japanese particle na, and then the noun. This na な particle turns nouns like baka into na-adjectives. For example:
  • baka na koto 馬鹿なこと
    Stupid thing (this is where the infamous BAKANA!!! comes from)
  • baka na yume 馬鹿な夢
    Stupid dream
  • baka na yatsu 馬鹿な奴
    Stupid guy (girl, person, thing, etc.)

As an adjective, baka can be preceded by the pronouns konna, sonna, anna, and donna.
  • sonna baka na koto wa arienai! そんな馬鹿なことはありえない!
    Something that stupid can't be!

Baka no... バカの◯

When baka comes before the no の particle, it usually means something pertains to a baka. This is also called a possessive adjective, or no-adjective.
  • baka no iken wa doudemo ii 馬鹿の意見はどうでもいい
    The opinion of an idiot doesn't matter.
    [I don't care for] the opinion of the idiot.

Bakayaro! バカ野郎!

The word baka is sometimes used an adjective attaching directly to the noun. That is, sometimes you can say baka before another noun to form a baka noun-compound. For example:
  • yarou! 野郎!
    Bastard! Sonnuva!
    • This is a kinda rude word used toward men, often used in swearing.
    • In some cases, it's not offensive.
  • baka yarou!!! 馬鹿野郎!!!
    Stupid bastard!!!

The word yarou, or yaro (same word, different romaji), may also be written as yaroo ヤロー.

バカヤロー!! もちろん お前も仲間だよ!!
Manga: Sakigake!! Cromartie Koukou 魁!!クロマティ高校 (Chapter 14, 帝国の逆襲)
  • Context: a character feels left out of the group.
  • baka yaroo!!
    [You] idiot!!
  • mochiron omae mo
    nakama da yo!!

    もちろん お前も 仲間だよ!!
    Of course you're nakama too!!

Bakamono! 馬鹿者!

The word bakamono is exactly like baka yarou, except in anime yarou is used more by urban, gang, or delinquent characters, while mono is used by classier, richer, and often older characters. Also, mono 者 means "person."

中尉殿 なんです このガキ・・・ でっ 馬鹿者!!
Manga: Fullmetal Alchemist, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi 鋼の錬金術師 (Chapter 3, 炭鉱の町)
  • Context: don't you know who I am?!?!?!
  • chuui-dono
    kono gaki...

    中尉殿 なんです このガキ…
    Lieutenant, [what is it with] this kid?
  • *punches*
  • de' でっ
    • Likely from:
    • itee 痛ぇ
    • itai 痛い
      [It] hurts.
  • baka mono!!
    [You] idiot!!

Baka me! バカめ

Because language is weird, there's also a case where baka goes behind another word but not as an adjective, it's the word in front of it that's a suffix:
  • baka me! バカめ!
    [You] idiot!
    (me め is a derogatory suffix when used toward others)

Kono Baka!

When surrounded by an impressive number of bakas, please use the demonstrative pronouns kono and ano to properly specify which baka you're talking about.
  • kono baka! この馬鹿!
    This idiot!. (not the other one)
  • ano baka! あの馬鹿!
    That idiot! (now it's the other one)

You can even specify more specifically by adding an extra word.
  • kono baka yarou! この馬鹿野朗!
    This stupid bastard!
  • kono baka me! この馬鹿目!
    This idiot!

See Swearing with Kono この for details. Baka! ◯のバカ!

When the word baka comes after the no particle, it says, literally, that the "stupid" pertains to someone. In other words, it can mean something stupid was done and the phrase attributes who did it.
  • watashi no baka! 私のバカ!
    I'm stupid! (the stupid is on me, it's my stupid action)
  • anata no baka! あなたのバカ!
    You stupid! (it's your fault!)

See the difference below:
  • omaera ni kiita ore ga baka datta お前らに聞いた俺がバカだった
    I was stupid to ask you guys.
  • omaera ni kiita ore no baka datta お前らに聞いた俺のバカだった
    Asking you guys was a stupid thing for me to do.

Baka Oniichan バカお兄ちゃん

It's common to have a stupid oniichan お兄ちゃん in anime, so:
  • baka oniichan! バカお兄ちゃん!
    Stupid brother!
  • baka na oniichan! バカなお兄ちゃん!
    Stupid brother!
  • oniichan no baka! お兄ちゃんのバカ!
    Stupid brother! (it's your fault!)

Baka Imouto バカ妹

Likewise, it's common to have an stupid imouto in anime, so:
  • baka imouto バカ妹
    Stupid sister.
  • baka na imouto バカな妹
    Stupid sister.
  • imouto no baka. 妹のバカ
    Stupid sister! (it's your fault!)

Baka Dakedo バカだけど

In Japanese, baka dakedo バカだけど means "but [they're] stupid." It's often used when talking about some guy, who is a good thing, did a guy thing, but he is an stupid. It can also mean "despite being an idiot."
  • baka dakedo バカだけど
    But [he's] an idiot.
    Despite being an idiot.

Baka ni Suru バカにする

In Japanese, baka ni suru バカにする means "to make an idiot [out of someone]," or, less literally, "to take someone for an idiot," "to make fun of someone," "to make someone look like an idiot," etc.

This is often a special skill of main characters in shounen 少年 anime.
  • ore wo baka ni suru tsumori ka? 俺をバカにするつもりか?
    Are you trying to make me look like an idiot?
  • baka ni shinaide! バカにしないで!
    Don't make me an idiot!
    Don't try to fool me!
    Don't make fun of me!
  • baka ni sareta... バカにされた…
    [Someone] made fun of me...

Baka ni Shinaide! バカにしないで!

The phrase baka ni shinaide! バカにしないで! means "don't make an idiot [out of me]," or "don't take [me] for an idiot." It's used when someone is apparently trying to insult one's intelligence, often by lying and assuming they haven't figured out what's happening yet.
  • baka ni shinaide! バカにしないで!
    Don't "baka ni suru" [me]!
    Don't make fun of me!
    I'm not an idiot!

This phrase contains naide ないで, which's used when you want to ask someone to not do something.

馬鹿にしないで</b>ください・・・・・・ こんな子供向けの問題解けて当然です・・・
Manga: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai ~Tensai-Tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen かぐや様は告らせたい~天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦~ (Chapter 4, 白銀御行は答えたい)
  • Context: Kaguya is asked a quiz question that's too easy for a genius like her, and congratulated after getting it right.
  • baka ni shinaide kudasai...
    [Don't take me for an idiot.]
  • konna kodomo-muke no mondai
    tokete touzen desu...
    A question [made] for kids like this,
    solving [it] is [only] natural...

Baka After Word ◯バカ

Sometimes, when baka is right after another word, it indicates someone is "stupid" for something, the kind of stupid that's centered on something, like they love something too much or love doing something too much. For example:
  • sentou baka 戦闘バカ
    Fighting-stupid. (someone who is this loves fights, battles, etc.)
  • karuta baka 歌留多バカ
    Karuta-stupid. (someone who loves the game of karuta)
    (example: protagonist of Chihayafuru, manga and anime about karuta)
  • oya-baka 親バカ
    Parent-stupid. (someone who loves being a parent, has gone stupid about being a parent)
    (this is the kind of person that keeps bragging about their child at a stupid frequency)
にしてもアスナ足速いよねー 悪かったわね 私はコレやのに 体力バカで
Manga: Mahou Sensei Negima! 魔法先生ネギま! (Chapter 1, お子ちゃま先生は魔法使い!)
  • Context: a tsundere and her friend run to school.
  • ni shitemo Asuna
    [That said,] Asuna,
  • ashi hayai yo nee
    1. [Your] legs are fast. (literally.)
    2. You [run] fast.
  • watashi kore ya no ni
    Even though [for] me, [I] have this.
    • This means the roller-skates. She's running at the same speed the other is rollerskating.
  • warukatta wa ne
    [Well, I'm sorry]
    • This is sarcasm.
  • tairyoku baka de
    For being a physical-strength baka.
    • i.e. for having so much stamina, endurance, agility, strength, etc.

This usage is sometimes used towards people. If you say you're someone-baka, that means you're stupid for someone. That is, you love them. There's nothing in your head except thoughts for them.

Bakabakashii 馬鹿馬鹿しい

The word bakabakashii 馬鹿馬鹿しい means that something is "stupid," or "foolish," not that someone, a person, is stupid. The word is often used about something someone said or implied. And, yes, it's the word baka twice (i.e. Reduplication) plus shii.

It's also spelled bakabakashii バカバカしい. The spelling bakabakakshii 馬鹿々々しい also exists, but using kurikaeshi that way is no longer orthographically valid.

馬鹿馬鹿しい・・・・・・ こんなもの問題になっていない!!
Manga: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai ~Tensai-Tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen かぐや様は告らせたい~天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦~ (Chapter 4, 白銀御行は答えたい)
  • Context: the student council president thinks a quiz question doesn't make sense.
  • bakabakashii...
    [What a waste of time.] (This is stupid.)
  • konna mono mondai ni natte-inai!!
    Something like this isn't become a question!! (literally.)
    • i.e. it's such a bad quiz question it doesn't meet the minimum requirements for the character to acknowledge it's actually a question.
    • He thinks quiz questions shouldn't be like this.

More Baka Words

Finally, here are the meanings of some other often spoken baka 馬鹿 sentences:
  • baka gaijin! バカ外人!
    Stupid foreigner!
  • kimi wa baka dakara 君はバカだから
    Because you're stupid
  • baka desu 馬鹿です
    [I] am stupid.
    [You/they] are stupid.
    [He/she] is stupid.
  • bakadomo バカ共
    You idiots. (in plural)
    Those idiots. (in plural.)
  • bakarashii 馬鹿らしい
    Idiotic. Something that feels stupid.
  • bakabakashii 馬鹿馬鹿しい
    Stupid, silly, foolish. (adjective used toward statements.)
  • Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu バカとテストと召喚獣
    Stupid and Test and Summoned Beasts (anime.)

Baka vs. Aho

Just like baka 馬鹿, the word ahou 阿呆, or just aho アホ, can also be used to say "stupid" in Japanese.

What's the Difference Between Baka and Aho?

They aren't the same word so they must be different, right? Well, not really. The difference between baka and aho is like the difference between "stupid" and "idiot:" there isn't really any. The words are practically synonymous when they are used to call people stupid.

However, there are a couple of details you should be aware of.

First off, words like ahoge アホ毛. This word clearly has the word aho in it. And aho and baka mean the same thing. Does that mean we can say bakage instead of ahoge? No. We can't. It's ahoge, not bakage. If the word is part of another word or expression, it's better to assume you can't just replace one by the other.

Second off, the word baka has certain uses the word aho doesn't have. I'll explain them further below.

Third off, depending on where you are in Japan, one word becomes worse than the other.

Baka in Kantou, Aho in Kansai

The word aho is used more in the kansai 関西 region of Japan while baka is used in the kantou 関東 region.

This means baka is more offensive in the kansai region than aho. That is, everybody is used to getting called aho in kansai, that's normal stupid, but they aren't used to getting called baka. So if they say baka there, it won't mean normal stupid, it will be advanced stupid.

Conversely, aho is less common in the kantou region, thus it's more offensive there.

For those who can't tell the difference between these two parts of Japan, kansai 関西 is at the "west," nishi 西, while kantou 関東 is at the "east," higashi 東.

By the way, Tokyo 東京 is literally the "capital" (京) of the "east" (東), and yes, it's in the kantou region. Since most anime are set in Tokyo, you can assume the word aho is generally more offensive than baka in anime.

Bakari ばかり

A word that sounds like baka but is not baka is the word bakari. As you can see, the word bakari starts with baka, but it has this ri at the end which makes it completely and one hundred percent different.

Except that sometimes the word bakari ばかり, or rather, its louder version bakkari ばっかり, can be shortened to bakka. So you got to pay attention.
  • tabeta bakari nanoni, nanika tabetai 食べたばかりなのに、なにか食べたい
    Though (nanoni) I just ate (tabeta bakari), I want to eat (tabetai) something (nanika)
  • kuruma wo katta bakka janeeka? 車を買ったばっかじゃねーか?
    Didn't you (janeeka) just buy (katta bakka) a car? (kuruma)

Bakari can also be used to say something happens all the time.
  • ano ko wa naite bakari あの子は泣いてばかり
    That kid (ano ko) cries all the time (naite bakari)


Leave your komento コメント in this posuto ポスト of this burogu ブログ with your questions about Japanese, doubts or whatever!

All comments are moderated and won't show up until approved. Spam, links to illegal websites, and inappropriate content won't be published.

  1. Those articles are great sensei! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  2. Just wonderful! I watch a TON of anime. Its actually the only thing I watch hahaha I was in the process of calling my friend an idiot and really couldnt remember how exactly to spell baka and if there was anything else I could add to it. Make her Google it just to see shes being a major baka haha thamks so much for all thos information! Really helped me out alot!.