Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ahoge アホ毛

If you like anime, you might have heard about the word ahoge before. It refers to those hairs that don't behave and spring up from the head of characters. They usually look like a banana or a crescent moon. But what does the word ahoge means in Japanese? Where does this meaning come from?

Well, ahoge アホ毛 is literally the combination of aho アホ, "stupid," or "idiot," a word like baka 馬鹿, and the word ke 毛, which means "hair." So, in a sense, ahoge means "stupid hair" or "idiot hair."

Beware that ahoge implies the hair is stupid because it doesn't behave, not that the person whose the hair pertains is stupid. So just because a character has ahoge doesn't mean he's an aho himself.

What Ahoge Looks Like

The classic ahoge found in anime looks like a single strand of hair springing upwards from the character's head. Length and thickness vary depending on style. Some are slightly curved and stand still, others bend with gravity and fall down to the forehead, others are ridiculously warped and can even defy gravity itself.

In any case, ahoge has become a popular trend and characteristic, so modern anime usually make the ahoge extremely obvious and easy to notice.

Examples of ahoge in anime or "stupid hair" in Full Metal Alchemist, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, Bakemonogatari, Lucky Star, Youjo Senki, and Ore no Seishun Rabukome wa Machigatteiru

Though the classic shape for the ahoge is single-strand (ippon 1本), there are also ahoge with 2-strands (ni-hon 2本) and 3-strands (sanbon 3本). In particular, the 2-strand ahoge is also called "antenna hair," or shokkaku 触角, because of how it looks like an insect's antenna.

Examples of antenna hair in anime and 3-strand ahoge


In case you didn't notice, "hair" is ke 毛 but ahoge has a ge 毛 instead. This happens because it's easier to pronounce ahoge than it's to pronounce ahoke, so the pronunciation changes. This change of pronunciation, by the way, is called rendaku 連濁.

Usually, ke 毛 is just ke and it refers to any kind of hair. If you wanted to be more specific, kami no ke 髪の毛 would refer to the "hairs of the head." The word kami 髪 is a more normal way to refer to the "hair," the one on your head. Likewise, mayu 眉 means "eyebrows" but mayuge 眉毛 refers to the "hair of the eyebrows."

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