Thursday, January 25, 2018

Waifu ワイフ

If you've spent, like, ten seconds, in any anime community, forum, chat, or anything, there's one hundred percent chance you've seen this word somehow: waifu ワイフ. And it's no wonder you'd ask yourself: what is a waifu? And what does the word waifu mean in Japanese? The answer is a bit complicated.


Basically, a waifu is a girl character a fan of anime likes the most, that is, if you were to marry a character, you'd marry your waifu. Your waifu is your 2D wife. Saying stuff like "she's my waifu" or "X is my waifu" is how you'd declare that.

For this reason, a waifu is usually one of the cutest girls in anime, the most moe one, or one that has the most attractive personality, or one that has literally no personality at all, or whatever. It depends entirely on the fan's taste so it could be anything.

Is Waifu a Joke?

A common question people ask is: is waifu a joke? A meme? Something doing ironically, sarcastically? Or do people seriously and unironically have waifus? Is it something people only do on the internet, anonymously, or is the waifu thing for real?

The answer is: yes.

Ironic Waifu

For most people, it's a joke. Just a meme. They see people talking about their waifu on the internet and they just mimic it. They'll lazily pick the trashiest character as their waifu, or the worst moeblob, and just use her to fit in among the misfits.

The degree of commitment people have to the joke varies. They can be simply bandwagon'ing by parroting phrases such as "your waifu is trash" when such response is expected, or they can be feigning a serious relationship to creep out everyone around.

And then there are people who actually seriously and unironically do have waifus.

Serious Waifu

In this case, we're talking about people who have fallen in love with fictional characters. Now, you can say this is some absurd stupid nonsense. But I'm sure you know at least one person who has once said they fell in love with someone, out of nowhere, all of sudden, without good reason, and they turned out to be an utter trash of a person and much regret was had. If these people can just "fall in love" with any one 3D person, why'd you not be allowed to fall in love with a 2D character?

And so, some people do fall in love with 2D characters. And they do end up committing to a serious relationship with a 2D girl. And they do end up doing things that look extremely creepy, like having a copious number of pictures of the characters, dolls, action figures of the character, wallpapers of the character, body pillows of the character, computer and phone wallpapers of the character, and so on. Sure, if your room was decorated with all this paraphernalia featuring the image of a real woman, you'd definitely be considered a stalker. But someone with a 3D wife can just meet her in real person if they want, someone with a 2D waifu can only meet her image. So hoarding her image is kinda justifiable.

Of course, whether we're talking about a mentally healthy individual who has a waifu or a mentally sick individual who has a waifu is uncertain. That's something for a psychiatrist to know about. I just write about words.

In manga and anime, however, when a guy has a waifu and a bunch of merchandise splattered in his room, there's a 99.99% chance he's portrayed as a delusional neet hikikomori otaku with disturbing mental problems.

A Waifu is Not Real

Evidently, a waifu is not real. She's a fictional 2D character whom you'll never really be with. She was probably drawn by a bunch of underpaid animators, probably male and in their 30's, and voiced by multiple random women across the globe. That's not a whole lot of identity, is it?

But that doesn't stop you from loving her, and that's what matters. People are aware, but they don't care. As long as the love is real the rest is of little significance.

Waifu vs. Best Girl

Regardless of how you've chosen your waifu, or how serious you're about committing to your relationship, declaring a waifu infers a degree of unique and special treatment. This is different from simply choosing a best girl in a show, a season, or a year.

For example, imagine there was a beauty contest in your city based on votes. Just because you voted for a girl, that doesn't mean you're going to marry her, but, on the other side, if you r wife entered the content, you're probably going to vote for her.

Likewise, fans do vote for their waifu on best girl polls if they're participating, but just because they voted for someone that doesn't mean that girl is their waifu.

Having Multiple Waifus

The act of having multiple waifus is absolutely disgusting extremely frowned upon. After all, it's beyond discussion that a decent human being would only have one waifu. Having multiple waifus is something savages do. Peasants. Polywaifu has no place in a civilized society.

Just like in romance stories the main character falls in love with one girl, and in romantic comedies there's often a love-triangle (on in Gamers, a devil summoning love pentagram) and the plot issues from the difficult choice of choosing one love interest over the other (a choice Chihaya can't fucking make even after 50 goddamn episodes!), and in visual novels you're supposed to pick one route and set the correct flags to make it to the good end with one girl, and in Harvest Moon you can only have a family with one girl (or guy in the girl's version), and in a harem anime the girl characters fight over to be that one girl the guy chooses, and in real life in most countries you can only marry one person at a time and polygamy is forbidden for multiple reasons, and how the idiom is about meeting your other half and definitely not about meeting your other thirds, etc. you should only have one waifu.

It's immoral to have more than one waifu. Your waifu can be bitchiest character, the one with vacuum for personality, the one that's not even of legal age, the one that's actually a guy, the one that's actually a demon, the one that's actually a cat and not a person, the one that's trash, or even the one that's all of this at once, but you only get to have one. That's where we draw the line. Your waifu has to be the most important girl in your (lack of) life, so you can't possibly have two of them.

Seasonal Waifus

Also frowned upon, albeit not as much as having multiple waifus, is the act of keeping just one waifu at a time, but switching waifus seasonally, or infrequently, one for another. This may happen for various reasons.
  1. The fan got tired of his current waifu and wants a new one.
  2. The fan watched a new show airing this season and there's a girl he thinks would make a better waifu than his current waifu.
  3. The fan watched a continuation or spin-off airing this season featuring his waifu where she does something that made him want divorce.

Regardless of reason, it's obvious this so-called "fan" doesn't love his waifu enough. As legends romanticize: love is eternal and unconditional. You can't just treat your waifu like an old sock that you just replace for a new one when you feel like. If you don't think you can stay together until death do you apart, don't make her your waifu.

Furthermore, some people claim the practice of replacing a waifu with a 3D girl (TL note: 3D girl means a real girlfriend) is equally disgusting and tantamount to cheating.

Your Waifu is Trash

Everybody knows my opinion is the only one that matters, everybody else is wrong. My taste in anime is objectively good, and other people have shit taste. So it's only logical to conclude that my waifu is the best, and your waifu is trash.

However, for some reason I can't honestly grasp, these other people, on the internet, keep telling me that my waifu is trash. They're wrong, obviously. The trash is theirs. But the irony doesn't stop them from spouting such unhinged nonsense. No matter how many times I say: your waifu is trash, they won't listen, won't believe it, and they just keep fighting back.

Origin of The Word

Now here's the part of that really matter: where does the word waifu come from?

It comes from Japanese. Obviously.

Specifically, the word waifu comes from the Hepburn romaji of ワイフ, which isn't exactly a Japanese word, but a katakanization of the English word "waifu." Note that another romaji for fu フ is hu, so if the romaji system used was Nihon-siki instead of Hepburn, the word would be waihu ワイフ.

By the way, if you're wondering how to write waifu with kanji, know that you can't, because that word doesn't have kanji, just like most words loaned from English do not.

But where did people get the idea of starting their 2D wives by the word waifu? Well, it's often said it was because of Azumanga Daioh.

Azumanga Daioh

Once upon a time, not so long, long ago. Wait. Were you born before or after 2002? I realize now that was 15 years ago, so if you're are 14 or 13 or whatever it was even before you were born.

Anyway, in 2002 there was an anime called Azumanga Daioh (or Azumanga Daiou あずまんが大王, meaning "Great King Azumanga."), based on an 4-koma manga of same name. (It was a cute-girls-doing-cute-things series later known for actually being funny compared to the ones made after it.) (By the way, the "oh" comes from official Japanese romanization rules, which produce slightly different romaji and mix Hepburn with English. It's used mainly in names of towns and people on passports, and turns, for example, the name Satou into Satoh.)

Anyway again, in this manga, there was a strip (Volume 2, Chapter "January," page 10), featuring a character called Kimura-sensei that has literally said he became a teacher because he liked high-school girls (a.k.a.: he's a pedophile). In the strip, he's in class when a photo drops from his pocket (I think?) and one of the girls picks it up, meaning to return it to him but before asking who is the woman in the photo. He answers: mai waifu マイワイフ, the katakanization of the English phrase "my wife," leaving the whole class in shock. After all, everybody assumed he was only after underage girls, how'd he get married with an adult woman?!

The origin of the word waifu in the manga Azumanga Daioh あずまんが大王. Transcription: onna no hito no shashin? A photo of a woman? kiree na hito~ [She's a] pretty person. dare? Who [is she]? Mai waifu. My Wife. Uso!? [No way!?]

Now, this manga strip was actually published in 2000. But people who read it then either read it in Japanese and didn't see anything special about the phrase, or read it translated and then it was probably translated as just "my wife," and not left as "mai waifu." So the phrase probably didn't get noticed in the manga, it's more likely people noticed it watching the 2002 anime adaptation.

After this, people started using the word waifu to refer to their 2D wives and it spread like the plague a meme.

Is Waifu a Japanese Word?

So the word waifu comes from Japanese, therefore it's a Japanese word, right?

OR IS IT?!?!?!?!?!

As it turns out, that's debatable. I mean, literally. I debated it over the internet with a random stranger, once. I said waifu wasn't actually a Japanese word. He said it was. I was unconvinced, so was he. IMHO, it isn't. And here I'll explain why.


First off, in Japanese, waifu ワイフ comes from the English word "wife." This is the word loaned as-is, that is, waifu means "wife" in Japanese because "wife" in English means "wife." It's literally the same thing.

In other words, waifu ワイフ is not a wasei-eigo 和製英語 word, a Japanese word made up from English but that doesn't have the same meaning in English. (For example: sukinshippu スキンシップ comes from "skinship," but "skinship" doesn't mean anything in English. This isn't the case with waifu "wife.")

But if you look at it from the other side, "waifu" IN ENGLISH doesn't mean "wife." If you see someone saying "she is my wife" and someone saying "she is my waifu," you'd be certain that they are saying different things.

If "waifu" isn't the same as "wife," but "wife" is the same as waifu ワイフ, then English "waifu" and Japanese waifu ワイフ are different words. Saying "waifu" in English doesn't have the same meaning as saying waifu ワイフ in Japanese! That means "waifu" is an eisei-wago 和製英語 word, an English word made up from a Japanese word, like "hentai" and "ecchi."

As proof of this, just look back at where "waifu" came from: a character talking about his "wife." Not his 2D "waifu," his 3D "wife." I mean, his wife that was as 3D as him... uh... you know what I mean!

Added proof: a Japanese website about English slangs explaining what "waifu" means in English to people who speak Japanese: If the word "waifu" meant the same thing in both languages, such article wouldn't exist.

On top of that, if you wanted to say "waifu" in Japanese to mean a 2D "waifu," you wouldn't use the word waifu ワイフ, because then nobody would understand you. You would use another word instead.

How to Say "Waifu" in Japanese

So, to say "waifu" in Japanese you don't use the word waifu ワイフ, you use something else, but what?

Remember how "waifu" in English came from the phrase mai waifu マイワイフ? Well, it's the same thing. Except in Japanese. I mean... literally.

The word "waifu" in Japanese becomes the phrase ore no yome 俺の嫁. In a way, this means "my wife," but a more correct translation would be "my bride," but a correct-er translation would be "my daughter-in-law," but, wait, "daughter-in-law" doesn't mean "wife"? What's going on here?

Meaning of Yome

Well, technically, the word for "wife" in Japanese is tsuma 妻. Originally yome 嫁 was used only for your "son's wife," musuko no tsuma 息子の妻, which is equivalent to your "daughter-in-law." However, people (in Japan) started using yome to refer to their own brides instead of their son's, and next to their wives instead of their brides.

So it's a bit confusing, but ore no yome historically meant "my daughter-in-law," people probably prefer to use it to say "my bride" right now, and you could translate it as "my wife" if you wanted to.

Extra Notes

If you say ore no yome in a Japanese anime-related forum, people will normally get the reference. Saying just yome 嫁, "bride," may also suffice in certain cases.

Furthermore, the term ore no yome isn't used only toward female characters, it may also be used toward male characters, giant robots, etc. Of course, whether it's used as a joke or not depends.

Male Waifu

The profound world of waifuism isn't limited to the male sex. If you're female, and have a male character you like, he, too, can be your waifu, except you'd used a different word in English for "male waifu."


A "husbando" is a male waifu. So if waifu is wife, husbando is husband.

Note that husbando doesn't even come from the romaji of the Japanese katakanization of "husband" like "waifu." If that was the case, then "husbando "would be hazubando ハズバンド instead. The word probably just came from someone trying to make "husband" look more like a katakanization.

Husbando in Japanese

Term ore no yome 俺の嫁 may also be used by women (and men?) to refer to their husbandos. This is despite the pronoun ore being mostly used by men and despite yome 嫁 meaning a "(female) bride" and not a "(male) groom."

A slightly more fitting ore no muko 俺の婿, "my groom" also means "husbando" in Japanese. The term watashi no muko 私の婿 also exists, also meaning "my groom," but using the more neutral pronoun watashi 私.

According to Pixiv, however, ore no muko is more common than watashi no muko, despite ore being considered a male pronoun, so you'd think it's a guy talking about his groom, and not a girl talking about her groom. This is probably because ore no muko at least sounds like ore no yome, while watashi no yome may be just too far from the original term.

Is a Trap a Waifu or a Husbando?

Kimura-sensei from manga Azumanga Daioh in shock after hearing a question.

I... I don't know? Try asking them?


Another fake Japanese word made-up by English-speaking fans is "daughteru."

Calm down! This is not what you're thinking! This doesn't mean a daughter you have with your waifu. It also doesn't mean you're marrying your daughter. It just means a 2D girl you love as if it were your daughter rather than your wife.

If you don't understand what this means, go watch Hinamatsuri ヒナまつり.

The proper katakanization of the word "daughter" would be dootaa ドーター.

Daughteru in Japanese

The word for "daughteru" in Japanese would be ore no musume 俺の娘, literally "my daughter."


A sonfu is a male daughteru, a character you love as if it were your son. This is also obviously fake Japanese, someone just affixed the fu of waifu to the word son, the proper katakanization of "son" would be just san サン.


A soneru is another term for a male daugheru. The only difference between soneru and sonfu is that one comes from son plus eru of daughteru while the other from son plus fu of waifu. I think sonfu is used more frequently, so if I had one I'd probably go with that, even though it sounds weird.

Sonfu in Japanese

Going by logic and rational thought, following the evidences presented in this post, connecting the dots and extrapolating the pattern, the word "sonfu" in Japanese would be ore no musuko 俺の息子, literally "my son," HOWEVER, consider two things before uttering it:
  1. Sonfu is an extremely rare word in English. If you go by hits on Google hits, waifu has 10 million results, husbando 1 million, daughteru 100 thousand, and sonfu just 5 thousand. Basically, female characters are more popular and nobody wants 2D children, so a male 2D child has almost no demand, therefore the word gets no usage. The same applies in Japanese. The chance of someone understand what you mean by "sonfu" is about the same of someone getting ore no musuko means a 2D son. It'd only get understood in certain circles and even then just maybe.
  2. Also ore no musuko means "my penis" in Japanese. Yep, musuko is an euphemism. Normally, it means "son," but if you go to an online Japanese forum Powered by Cynism™ where everybody is talking about their waifus and say something that can be understood like that, it's probably going to be understood like that. So I'd avoid using it if I were you.

More Waifu Stuff

For further reference:
  • /r/waifuism/
    A subreddit dedicated to people who have a waifu. Claims to be serious. May or may not be.
  • waifu2x
    Not satisfied with the size of your waifu? Enlarge your waifu with these few simple steps! A software created specifically to resize anime images to higher resolutions while maintaining a semblance of quality. You know, CSI-style.
  • MyWaifuList
    A website dedicated to deciding whose waifu is the trashiest waifu through user votes. It also lets users votes on the best waifu, like a popularity contest, like the International SaiMoe. And there's even a way to declare your one true waifu.
  • RIP Grape-Kun
    Grape-kun was an inspiration to all. Truly a follower of the no waifu no laifu dogma.

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