Friday, March 2, 2018

wanko わんこ - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, a wanko わんこ is a colloquial way to refer to a dog, specially a puppy. The word is formed from an onomatopoeia for the sound dogs make, "woof," in Japanese: wan わん, and ko, which in this case is a suffix used to refer to something cute.

So wanko is how you say "doggy" in Japanese. But more literally wanko means "lil' woof" or something like that. Note, however, that despite the cutesy origins of the word, it may be used in a very enraged way depending on the situation.


Since it's a pet-like name, sometimes the chan honorific suffix is added to make stuff cuter: wanko-chan わんこちゃん. The term wanchan わんちゃん may also used to say "doggy."

The words above are usually written with hiragana, mostly because hiragana is cuter, but they can be written with katakana, too.

wanko ワンコ
wanko-chan ワンコちゃん
wanchan ワンちゃん

The term nyanko にゃんこ is the cat counterpart of wanko.

Sometimes wanko is altered a bit to create a nickname for a pet. For example, in the manga and anime Hajime no Ippo はじめの一歩, there's a dog called wanpo ワンポ. It's the pet dog of the main character, Ippo イッポ.

人にやる気を出させるってのも才能だと思うぜ 癒し系ですか わんこみたいな・・・ そこまで言ってないけどな
Manga: Gakkou-gurashi! がっこうぐらし! (Chapter 17, わんこ)
  • Context: characters discuss the importance of an useless character.
  • {{hito ni {yaru} ki wo dasaseru} tte no mo sainou da} to omou ze
    [I] think that {{making people [feel motivated]} is a talent, too}.
    • dasaseru - "to make [someone] put out [something]," causative form of dasu 出す, "to put out."
    • {yaru} ki wo dasu - to feel motivated, "to let out a {yaru} ki."
    • X + ki - to feel eager to do X.
    • yaru - "to do [a task]," "to fight [with someone]."
  • iyashi-kei desu ka
    A healing-type, huh.
    • iyasu 癒やす - "to heal," sometimes used in the sense of to heal stress, "to comfort."
    • Something or someone that makes people feel calm, at peace, is sometimes called iyashi-kei, e.g. a slow-life CGDCT anime.
  • wanko mitai na...
    [She] is like a doggy, huh...
  • soko made ittenai kedo na
    [I] haven't said that far, though. (literally.)

Pochi ポチ

Sometimes, pochi ポチ, "spot," a common dog name in Japan, is used to refer to dogs the same way as wanko, although pochi is used more to refer to a specific dog, like you just gave the most common name you could think of for one of them.


Sometimes, wanko is used figuratively to refer to a type of personality where someone is overly loyal or attached to someone else, specially romantically, following them around and doing everything thye want, meaning they're that person's loyal pet.

It can also happen because they look cute as a tail-wagging puppy.

In BL / yaoi, the terms wanko seme and wanko uke are types of seme and uke that refer to characters that are devoted to their partners like a "doggy" would to their owner.

This also can happen in ecchi and parody manga and anime, in the usual do-S / do-M scenario where a sadist character decides to make someone their pet / "doggy" / slave.

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