Friday, April 13, 2018

Family Words

For reference, a list of words for family members in Japanese.


This post is so long it needs an introduction. To clear any doubts you may have:

Kanji can be read different ways. This is why chichi 父 and otousan お父さん are written like that. Furthermore, one same word can be written with different kanji.

There are too many synonyms in this article. Check the nuances section at the end for clarification between multiple words. (in particular, the difference between chichi 父 and otousan お父さん)

Terms Found in References

The term NG as seen in the titles of many referenced articles stands for "not good" and means you shouldn't use or say something.
  • wo sasu を指す
    To point at. (literally)
    To refer to.
  • yobikata 呼び方
    Way of calling (someone).
  • uyamau 敬う
    To show reverence toward. (honorific terms do this.)


A summarized version of this whole article:
  • kazoku 家族
  • otousan お父さん
  • okaasan お母さん
  • oya
  • musuko 息子
  • musume
  • ko
  • oniisan お兄さん
    Older brother.
  • otouto
    Younger brother.
  • oneesan お姉さん
    Older sister.
  • imouto
    Younger sister.
  • kyoudaishimai 兄弟姉妹
  • ojiisan お祖父さん
    sofu 祖父
  • obaasan お祖母さん
    sobo 祖母
  • sofubo 祖父母
  • magomusuko 孫息子
  • magomusume 孫娘
  • mago


Here's a chart of the Japanese family words:

A diagram of family members in Japanese.


To say family in Japanese:
  • kazoku 家族

(Note: ohana お鼻 means "nose.")

When "family" refers to one's "household," the term katei 家庭 is used instead. This would be used in cases like "familial" matters, something that happened inside the family. That is: kazoku is a family as a structure, kinship, while katei is domestic, related to home.

One phrase common in anime is katei jijou 家庭事情, "familial circumstances," usually used when a characters parents want him to move from one school to another or something like that.

Family Tree

To say family tree in Japanese:
  • kakeizu 家系図

This is because a kakei 家系 is the "lineage of a family," while a zu 図 is a "diagram."


To say father in Japanese:
  • otousan お父さん
  • otousama お父様
  • otouchan お父ちゃん
  • tousan 父さん
  • touchan 父ちゃん
  • otou お父 [san, sama, chan difference]

    Note: a "father" as in a "priest" of the Catholic church, etc. is shinpu 神父 in Japanese.


    The words for mother in Japanese:


    The word for son in Japanese is:
    • musuko 息子

    Toward the sons of other people, the following words are used:
    • musukosan 息子さん
    • goshisoku ご子息
    • goreisoku ご令息

    The terms goshisoku and goreisoku are more formal and may be considered too formal to use normally, specially goreisoku.


    The word for daughter in Japanese is:
    • musume

    Toward the daughters of other people, the following words are used:
    • musumesan 娘さん
    • goshijo ご子女
    • gosokujo ご息女
    • goreijou ご令嬢

    The terms goshijo, gosokujo and goreijo are formal, and sometimes considered too formal to be used normally, specially goreijou.


    To say parent in Japanese:
    • oya
    • ryoushin 両親
      Both parents.
    • goryoushin ご両親
      (someone else's) parents.
    • fubo 父母
      Father and mother.
      Father or mother. (in some cases)
    • kataoya 片親
      Single parent. One of the two parents.
    • futaoya 二親
      Two parents.

    The terms above may all be used to say "parents" in Japanese. The term goryoushin ご両親, with the go ご honorific, is used to refer to the parents of other people, not your parents, only of other people.


    To say child in Japanese:
    • ko
    • okosan お子さん
      (someone else's) child.
    • __ no ko 〇〇の子
      __'s child. (insert name there.)

    The word kodomo 子供 may refer to someone's "children" in plural, __ no kodomo 〇〇の子供. But it may also refer to "children" as in "they're young."

    (note: there's an entirely separate article for ko because that word has other uses.)

    Parent & Child

    The following terms are used when when talking about parent and child at the same time.
    • oyako 親子
      Parent and child.
    • fushi 父子
      Father and child.
    • boshi 母子
      Mother and child.

    Sometimes, the kanji for "daughter," musume 娘, may be used instead of ko 子 in the words above to hint the gender of the child is female. These'd be gikun, artificial readings. For example:
    • oyako 親娘
      oyamusume 親娘
      Parent and daughter.

    Birth Order

    In Japanese, there are terms for sons and daughters based their birth order, which are used instead of phrases like "first son," "oldest son," "first daughter," etc. we'd use in English.


    Normally, the children are counted using numbers and counters.
    • ichinan 一男
      First-born son. Eldest son.
    • jinan 次男 (二男)
      Second-born son.
    • san'nan 三男
      Third-born son.
    • yon'nan 四男
      Fourth-born son.
    • ichijo 一女
      First-born daughter. Eldest daughter.
    • jijo 次女 (二女)
      Second-born daughter.
    • sanjo 三女
      Third-born daughter.
    • yonjo 四女
      Fourth-born daughter.

      You may have noticed the terms jinan 次男 and jijo 次女 are not written with the kanji for "two," ni 二, and not read ninan and nijo either. This happens because they second son and daughter are the "next" (after the first) son and daughter, so they're written with the kanji for "next," tsugi 次. They may be written with 二 too, but they'd still be read jinan and jijo.

      Eldest Child

      There are synonyms for "first-born" that use the kanji for the word "long," nagai 長い, because they've been born for the longest time, they're older, the eldest.
      • chounan 長男
        Eldest son.
      • choujo 長女
        Eldest daughter.
      • choushi 長子
        Eldest child.

      For the record: the chounan is the chounan forever. The jinan never becomes chounan, not even if the chounan dies and the jinan surpasses him in (living) age. The same applies to the other words.

      Youngest Child

      The terms for the "youngest" child in Japanese used the kanji for the word "end," matsu 末, as they're the last children born and consequently at the end of the offspring list.
      • matsunan 末男
        Youngest son.
      • matsujo 末女
        Youngest daughter.
      • suekko 末っ子
        Youngest child.

      Numbered Son Names

      In some cases, parents may name their sons following a certain custom of adding a suffix according to their birth order. In which case, the name of a person (or anime character) hints whether they're the youngest or have an older brother, etc.
      • tarou 太郎
        ichirou 一郎
        First-born son.
      • jirou 次郎
        Second-born son.
      • saburou 三郎
        Third-born son.
      • shirou 四郎
        Fourth-born son.

      For example, in Uchouten Kazoku, the name of the sons of main character's family are: Yaichirou, Yajirou, Yasaburou, and Yashirou.

      This practice is called haikoumei 輩行名.


      To say husband in Japanese:
      • otto

      The word above means "husband" literally. The following words are used when referring to one's husband in person:

      Shujin 主人

      • shujin 主人
      • goshujin ご主人
      • goshujinsan ご主人さん
      • goshujinsama ご主人様

      The word shujin originates from the "lord," aruji 主, of a home, implying the husband, in which case everyone else in that same home serves the lord, the man of the house.

      Although most people don't really care the term's origins, some of the working women in modern society may be against its usage, as the word seems rather sexist. It always means husband, never wife, implying you can assume the lord of the house is male. The term onnashujin 女主人 exists for female shujin, but that word is not used to say "wife."

      The term goshujin, with the honorific prefix go 御, would refer to other people's husbands, as it's unusual to use honorifics toward yourself. You don't need to use honorific suffixes (san, sama) with this word.

      In anime, the term goshujinsama often refers to a maid's "master," in other words, the lord of the house where the maid serves. It's also used in similar fashion in other contexts.

      Dan'na 旦那

      • dan'na 旦那
      • dan'nasan 旦那さん
      • dan'nasama 旦那様

      The dan'na words are often used more casually than shujin.

      Besides meaning "husband," the word dan'na may also refer to the master of a house, like shujin, and sometimes it can also refer to the master (owner) of a shop, so long as he is a man.

      Besides that, dan'na 旦那, written as dan'na 檀那, means "(male) patron," and it's used to refer to male customers of shops. This is similar to how the word "boss" is sometimes used in English to refer to customers, as they're the ones giving the orders.

      Besides that, too, the origin of dan'na 旦那 lies in the word daana ダーナ, loaned from Sanskrit, where it would mean "donation." Basically donation means patron means customers means "boss" means master of the shop means master of the house means husband.

      Father Words

      Sometimes, words that would usually mean "father" can be used to refer to one's husband.
      • otousan お父さん
      • papa パパ

      Anata あなた

      Sometimes, the word anata あなた, meaning "you," is used by wives when talking to their husbands. This contrast with the usual way to refer to people in Japanese: normally you wouldn't refer to people by you, anata, kimi, etc. and instead refer to them by their names or title (like their profession, etc.)

      Note that anata is only used when talking to the husband. There's no such thing as "my anata" meaning my "husband."


      To say groom in Japanese:



      To say wife in Japanese:
      • tsuma

      The word above means "wife" literally. The following words are used to refer to wives:
      • yome
      • yomesan 嫁さん

      Originally, yome referred to the bride of your son, but nowadays it's also used to refer to your own bride, or your own wife too.
      • okusan 奥さん
      • okusama 奥様

      The term okusama is normally used to refer to other people's wives, not yours. Although some people use it to refer to their own wife.

      The following terms feel a bit old, but they also exist:
      • kamisan 上さん
      • kanai 家内
      • nyoubou 女房

      Mother Words

      Sometimes, words that would usually mean "mother" can be used to refer to one's wife.
      • okaasan お母さん
      • mama ママ


      To say bride in Japanese:

      (note: ore no yome 俺の嫁, "my wife/bride," is the Japanese equivalent of my waifu)



      The words to refer to in-laws are the following:
      • muko 婿
        Husband of your daughter.
      • yome
        Wife of your son.
      • shuutome
        Mother of your spouse.
      • shuuto
        Father of your spouse.

      The following words have the "artificial," gi 義, prefix and have other uses (like adoptive relatives, etc.). But they can be used to refer to in-laws too.
      • gibo 義母
        giri no haha 義理の母
      • gifu 義父
        giri no chichi 義理の父
      • gikyoudai 義兄弟
      • gikei 義兄
        Older brother-in-law.
      • gitei 義弟
        Younger brother-in-law.
      • gishi 義姉
        giri no ane 義理の姉
        Older sister-in-law.
      • gimai 義妹
        giri no imouto 義理の妹
        Younger sister-in-law.

      Spouses & Marriage

      Some more words about spouses, marriage, husbands and wives:
      • haiguusha 配偶者
        Spouse. Partner.
      • paatonaa パートナー
      • fuufu 夫婦
        Husband and wife.
        Married couple.
      • kekkon 結婚
      • kekkon suru 結婚する
        To marry.
      • X to kekkon suru Xと結婚する
        To marry with X.


      To say brother in Japanese there are different words depending on whether they're your older brother or younger brother.

      Older Brother

      To say older brother in Japanese:

      Sister Princess

      The anime Sister Princess disturbingly features 12 characters pretending they are the younger sister of the main character, and 13 different ways to say "older brother" in Japanese. For reference:
      1. oniichan お兄ちゃん
      2. oniichama お兄ちゃま
      3. onii あにぃ
      4. oniisama お兄様
      5. oniitama おにいたま
      6. aniuesama 兄上様
      7. niisama にいさま
      8. aniki アニキ
      9. anikun 兄くん
      10. anigimi-sama 兄君さま
      11. onichama 兄チャマ
      12. niiya 兄や
      13. anchan あんちゃん

      Younger Brother

      To say younger brother in Japanese:
      • otouto

      The term otoutosan 弟さん is used when talking about the otouto of someone else.

      Eldest Brother

      An older brother is just any of your brothers older than you. The eldest brother is specifically called:
      • choukei 長兄

      (see eldest child for explanation)

      Youngest Brother

      Conversely, the youngest brother among your siblings is called:
      • battei 末弟

      (see youngest child for explanation)


      To say sister in Japanese there are different words depending on whether they're your older sister or your younger sister.

      Older Sister

      To say older sister in Japanese:

      Younger Sister

      To say younger sister in Japanese:
      • imouto

      Th term imoutosan 妹さん is used when talking about the imouto of someone else.

      Eldest Sister

      An older sister is just any of your sister older than you. The eldest sister is specifically called:
      • choushi 長姉

      (see eldest child for explanation)

      Youngest Sister

      Conversely, the youngest sister among your siblings is called:
      • matsumai 末妹

      (see youngest child for explanation)


      The words for siblings in Japanese are written with the kanji of the words for brothers and sisters.
      • kyoudai 兄弟
        Brothers. (male)
        Siblings. (neutral)
      • shimai 姉妹
      • kyoudaishimai 兄弟姉妹
        Brothers and sisters.

      兄弟, 兄妹, 姉弟, 姉妹

      Sometimes, the word kyoudai may be written with different kanji depending on the gender of the siblings, as a gikun, even though the words keimai, shitei and shimai exist.
      • kyoudai 兄弟
        Older brother, younger brother.
      • kyoudai 兄妹
        keimai 兄妹
        Older brother, younger sister.
      • kyoudai 姉弟
        shitei 姉弟
        Older sister, younger brother.
      • kyoudai 姉妹
        shimai 姉妹
        Older sister, younger sister.


      The word for twins in Japanese is:
      • futago 双子

      Terms for "multiple birth," tatai 多胎, of higher numbers include:
      • mitsugo 三つ子
      • yotsugo 四つ子
      • itsutsugo 五つ子
      • mutsugo 六つ子
        (you know, like in Osomatsu-san おそ松さん)
      • nanatsugo 七つ子
      • yatsugo 八つ子
      • kokonotsugo 九つ子
      • juttsugo 十つ子



      To say grandfather in Japanese:

      Sometimes the words above are written with another kanji, for example ojiisan お爺さん. This is usually a way to refer to just any "old man" rather than anyone's actual grandfather. Just like "grandpa" is sometimes used toward elders in English.


      To say great-grandfather in Japanese:
      • sou-sofu 曾祖父
        hii-jiji 曾祖父
        ooooji 大祖父 (seriously? おおおお? Seriously??)
      • kou-sofu 高祖父

      (note: there are no common words for greatness above this.)


      To say grandmother in Japanese:

      When written as obaasan お婆さん, the word refers to a "old woman" familial relationship. The same as "grandma" is used in English.


      To say great-grandmother in Japanese:
      • sou-sobo 曾祖母
        hii-baba 曾祖母
      • kou-sobo 高祖母

      (note: there are no common words for greatness above this.)


      To say grandchild in Japanese:
      • mago
      • magomusuko 孫息子
      • magomusume 孫娘


      To say great-grandchild in Japanese and further:
      • himago ひ孫
        himago 曾孫
        souson 曾孫
      • yashago 玄孫
        genson 玄孫
      • raigon 来孫
      • konson 昆孫
      • jouson 仍孫
      • unson 雲孫

      Isn't that great?



      To say grandparents in Japanese:
      • sofubo 祖父母
        Grandfather and [grand]mother.


      To say great-grandparents in Japanese:
      • sou-sofubo 曽祖父母
      • kou-sofubo 高祖父母

      (note: there are no common words for greatness above this.)


      To say uncle in Japanese, when talking about your parent's "older brother," ani 兄:

      To say uncle in Japanese, when talking about your parent's "younger brother," otouto 弟:

      To say uncle in Japanese, when calling some random old man "uncle" colloquially even though you're not related at all: ojisan 小父さん.

      (see 叔父, 伯父, 叔母, 伯母 for details.)


      To say aunt in Japanese, when talking about your parent's "older sister," ane 姉:

      To say aunt in Japanese, when talking about your parent's "younger sister," imouto 妹:

      The word obasan 小母さん may be used colloquially to refer to random old women, family or not.

      (see 叔父, 伯父, 叔母, 伯母 for details.)


      To say cousin in Japanese:
      • itoko いとこ
      • itoko 従兄弟
      • itoko 従姉妹
      • itoko 従兄
        juukei 従兄
      • itoko 従弟
        juutei 従弟
      • itoko 従姉
        juushi 従姉
      • itoko 従妹
        juumai 従妹

      Just use itoko いとこ or check 従兄弟, 従姉妹, 従兄, 従弟, 従姉, 従妹 for the differences.

      Second Cousin

      Your first cousins are the children of the siblings of your parents. Your second cousins are the grandchildren of the siblings of your grandparents, To say second cousin in Japanese:
      • hatoko はとこ
        hatoko 再従兄弟
      • mataitoko 又いとこ
      • futaitoko 二いとこ
      • iyaitoko 弥いとこ

      The いとこ part may be written with kanji following the same rules as the word itoko いとこ, "cousin."

      The word hatoko is a jukujikun 熟字訓 that somehow managed to be written with 3 kana (はとこ) but 4 kanji (再従兄弟). Very exceptional. Anyway, it works the same as its synonyms. You can change the 従兄弟 part in 再従兄弟 depending on the second cousin.



      To say nephew in Japanese:
      • oi
      • oikko 甥っ子
      • oigo 甥御


      To say niece in Japanese:
      • mei
      • meikko 姪っ子
      • meigo 姪御

      Nephew & Niece

      To refer to any nephews or nieces you may or may not have:
      • oimei 甥姪

      In other words: kyoudai-shimai no kodomo 兄弟姉妹の子供, "children of your brothers and sisters."

      Adopted Family

      • koji 孤児
      • yashinau 養う
        To adopt (a child, not an idea, attitude, etc.).
      • youshi-engumi 養子縁組
      • youshin 養親
        Adoptive parent (or parents.)
      • youshi 養子
        Adopted child.
      • youfubo 養父母
        Adoptive father and mother.
        Adoptive parents.
      • youjo 養女
        Adopted daughter.
      • youka 養家
        Adoptive family.
      Generally speaking, jitsu 実, "real," implies someone is related by blood, while gi 義 and giri 義理 implies they are not related by blood.

      For example:
      • giri no haha 義理の母
        gibo 義母
        Foster mother.
      • giri no chichi 義理の父
        gifu 義父
        Foster father.
      • giri no kyoudai 義理の兄弟
        Foster brothers.

      And so on. Some examples of the counterpart:
      • jitsu no imouto 実の妹
        jitsumai 実妹
        Younger sister related by blood. Biological younger sister.
      • jitsu no ani 実の兄
        jikkei 実兄
        Older brother related by blood. Biological older brother.

      By the way, chi no tsunagari 血の繋がり, literally "connection of blood," refers to blood relationships.

      Nuances, Usage & Differences


      A number of words for family members have honorifics suffixes that can change between san, chan and sama. For example:
      • otousan, otouchan, otousama
      • okaasan, okaachan, oksaama
      • oniisan, oniichan, oniisama
      • oneesan, oneechan, oneesama
      • ojiisan, ojiichan, ojiisama
      • obaasan, obaachan, obaasama
      • ojisan, ojichan, ojisama
      • obasan, obachan, obasama

      These words all refer to the same thing regardless of suffix. That is: oniisan, oniisama, and oniichan all mean "older brother." Likewise, oneesan, oneesama, and oneechan all mean "older sister."

      The difference between them is in nuance.

      The san suffix may be regarded as neutral. The sama suffix is more formal, traditional, respectful, and puts a distance between the speaker and the person they're referring to. Meanwhile, the chan suffix is less formal, and more intimate, friendly, chummy instead, implying closeness between the speaker and whom they're referring to.

      Cues in Anime

      In anime, the suffix used may hint the relationship between the characters and show an aspect of their family.

      For example: when calling fathers, mothers, older siblings with sama, it implies respect. This may mean the family places importance in tradition. Like a rich family where children are educated to say "father," and not just "dad," as that may sound ridiculous if heard by others.

      In some cases, an older brother or sister being called with sama implies the younger sibling has excessive admiration for them.

      On the other side, using chan implies it's a cozier family where rigid norms don't really matter. Toward parents, it may imply a good relationship with them. Or it may imply it's a poor family. Or one from the countryside.

      (In Rose of The Versailles, one character is ridiculed in a royal court for calling their parent with -chan.)

      Referring to siblings with chan implies the closeness likewise. Sometimes this is done mockingly.

      父 vs. お父さん, 母 vs. お母さん

      A number of Japanese words for family members have versions with and without honorifics. For example:
      • chichi and otousan
      • haha and okaasan
      • ani and oniisan
      • ane and oneesan
      • sofu and ojiisan
      • sobo and obaasan

      There's no difference between these words in meaning. Both chichi and otousan mean "father." Both haha and okaasan mean "mother." The difference between chichi and otousan, haha and okaasan, etc. is in how they are used.

      Basically, it follows the golden rule that you don't use honorifics toward yourself, except on a familial level instead.

      The versions with honorifics, otousan, okaasan, etc. are used only when talking to someone inside the family, "relatives," miuchi 身内, while the versions without honorifics, chichi, haha, etc. are used outside the family, "other people," tanin 他人.

      For example:
      • If you are talking to your father,
        you use otousan.
      • If you are talking to your mother,
        about your father,
        you use otousan.
      • If you are talking to your brothers,
        about your father,
        you use otousan.
      • If you are talking to someone you met on the street,
        about your father,
        you use chichi.

      Following that, if you're talking about someone else's relatives, you may use honorifics too.

      For example:
      • watashi no chichi to anata no otousan 私のとあなたのお父さん
        My father and your father.

      This means that, when one character is talking to someone they are not related to, chichi refers to their father, while otousan refers to the father of whom they're talking to.

      Note that to some people mistaking the usage described above makes you look like you weren't properly taught how to use the words. Also note that some people do mistake how the words are used. And some people do not mind how they are used. So it's a really tricky set of words.


      パパ, ママ

      Some children use the terms papa and mama instead of otousan and okaasan to refer to their own parents.

      You might imagine this would only be a trivial fraction of all children, as papa and mama are obviously western words, surely otouchan and okaachan or something more Japanese-sounding would be more adequate?

      However, a good portion of the families (39.8% according to the referenced data) have their children use papa and mama inside the family, when not talking to people outside the family.

      Note that the word mama まま also means "the way something is."


      父親, 母親

      The terms chichioya and hahaoya differ from haha and chichi in the way they're used.

      When you use chichi and haha, you're talking about what a person, who happens to be a father or a mother, is doing. That is, it's merely a way to refer to them, to describe them. You can replace these words by their names every time and the phrase would still make sense.

      "Mother went to X," for example.

      Meanwhile, chichioya and hahaoya refer to parents as parents, acting in their capacity as parents. They can be used, for example, to speak generally: "a mother would do this," or, "mothers do this."

      Furthermore, there are cases where chichioya and hahaoya refer to one's parents, not parents in general. In this case, the terms are used because they feel more general, therefore more distant, and lack the intimate aspect of chichi and haha.

      In other words: chichi and haha sound too casual when compared to chichioya and hahaoya, so people use the oya words instead in situations they want to avoid sounding too cozy.


      親父, お袋

      The terms oyaji and ofukuro mean "father" and "mother" respectively. They're used mostly by men, not by women.

      In anime, characters calling their fathers oyaji are common. Some of them have a rebel personality, making the term oyaji sound like a disrespectful word. In fact, some people in real life think the term is impolite.

      That isn't necessarily true. Sure, these terms aren't exactly full of reverence, however, they're often simply the way people end up calling their parents. It doesn't imply they respect them less or more. It can imply they have a closer relationship, maybe, but it would be wrong to assume someone who says oyaji is in bad terms with their father.

      Sometimes, suffixes are added to the words: oyajisan 親父さん, ofukurosan お袋さん. The contraction oyassan おやっさん also exists.


      父上, 母上, 兄上, 姉上

      There are some Japanese terms for family members that end in ue 上. They're simply the non-ue version with ue added to it.
      • chichi and chichiue.
      • haha and hahaue.
      • ani and aniue.
      • ane and aneue.

      The words above infer reverence, as ue 上 means above. So they're generally used toward seniors. The words for son, daughter and younger brother, younger sister do not have ue 上 versions.

      The difference between chichi and chichiue, haha and hahaue, etc. is in how they're used. There's no difference in meaning. Both chichi and chichiue mean "father," and so on.

      The words with ue, chichiue, hahaue, aniue, aneue, are not used in modern times. They were more common in the Meiji era (before 1912). Nowadays chichi and the other non-ue words are used more instead.

      So if you have to choose, choose the words without ue.

      In writing, the ue words may still be used, just not in speech. Also note that some families still prefer to use the ue words instead, but that's just some particular cases and not the general situation.

      In anime, fiction, etc., specially theater pieces, the usage of chichiue, hahaue, aniue, aneue indicates the character comes from a very traditional family, or that they're somehow anachronistic. Like they time-traveled to or from the Meiji era or something.


        父君, 母君

        The words fukun, also read chichigimi, and hahagimi, are ways to refer with reverence to a father and a mother.

        These words are like chichiue and hahaue: they're rather old, they aren't used much in speech, and they are found more in writing.

        One difference, however, is that chichiue and hahaue are used to refer to your own parents, while chichigimi and hahagimi are used to refer to someone else's parents.


        父御, 母御

        The words chichigo and hahago are just like chichigimi and hahagimi, used to refer to other people's parents, mainly used in writing, except the terms feel a bit older-fashioned.

        The word chichigo is also read as tetego.

        尊父, 御親父

        The words sonpu and and goshinpu are mainly used to refer to the parents of whom you're talking. These are also words of reverence, and also used more in writing.

        ファーザー, マザー, シスター, ブラザー

        The words faazaa, mazaa, shisutaa, and burazaa are katakanizations of the English words "mother," "father," "sister," and "brother."

        Although these words aren't really used in real life to refer to people's family, they're often seen in loaned words that make use of them, like "motherboard," for example.

        More often, these words refer to another type of relationship. For example, shisutaa can refer to a "nun," like "sister" sometimes does in English.

        In anime, there are cases where characters may call their family by these words but that's just anime being anime.

        兄貴, 姉貴

        The words aniki and aneki refer to a brother and a sister respectively. These words are like aniue and aneue, they refer to them with reverence, except they are still used in speech to this day.

        The reason for this is probably that aniki and aneki are sometimes used to refer not to one's real brother, but just to an older guy or girl whom they respect. That is: it's basically senpai, the "bro" version, and its female counterpart.

        In particular, in anime it's common for gang members to call their boss aniki, even if that boss is just a middle-management kinda boss and he has a bossier gang boss himself. Likewise, girl gangs would use aneki.

          兄者, 姉者, 兄者人, 姉者人

          The words anija and aneja are words used in the past to refer to the "older brother" and "older sister" respectively. They aren't used in modern speech, but you may see it in songs, anime, manga, etc.

          They're abbreviations of anijahito 兄者人 and anejahito 姉者人.

          Since these words infer reverence to whom they refer to, they exist only for the seniors, the older brother and older sister.

          Words such otoja 弟者, which would be the "younger brother" variant, probably did not exist when onija and oneja were in use,. Instead, it's possible they were made up in modern times. Remember: onija and oneja are still used in fiction, music, etc. today. So someone, knowing onija was a word, figured otoja would be a word too.


          お坊ちゃん, お嬢さん

          The terms obocchan and ojousan are two separate words that have similar usage. They refer to someone else's son and daughter respectively, and they're used in reverence.

          The origin of obocchan seems to come from "Buddhist priests," bouzu 坊主. Because of their iconic crew cut hairstyle, the term "bouzu head," bouzu-atama 坊主頭, even came to mean that. And young boys, who had such hairstyle, ended up being called obocchan affectionately.

          This is why obocchan, with the affectionate chan, often refers to the son of someone, while obousan, with a simple san, rather refers to a Buddhist priest.

          The word ojousan, on the other hand, normally refers to someone's daughter, simply put. But it can be used in other ways too.

          For example, sometimes ojousan refers to a young woman whose name is unknown.

          Because the terms obocchan and ojousama refer to children but have honorifics, they've come to be associated with children of rich families. After all, among lesser enriched families people wouldn't waste time with such pleasantries.

          In anime, it's often butlers, maids, etc. that call the children of their masters these words:
          • obocchan おぼっちゃん
          • obocchama おぼっちゃま
          • ojouchan お嬢ちゃん
          • ojousan お嬢さん
          • ojousama お嬢様

          Since these terms are associated with rich children, it's sometimes the case of saying someone is an obocchan or ojousama mockingly if they appear to be from a rich family. In this case you aren't really saying "son" or "daughter," it's more like a slang that implies they're snobby, or have a different social position, tastes, etc.


          おおじ, おおば

          The terms ooji and ooba are used to refer to a grandfather and grandmother respectively. These terms come from oochichi 大父, literally "great father," and oohaha 大母, "great mother," respectively.

          じじ, ばば

          The terms jiji, baba are used to refer to a grandfather and a grandmother respectively. The terms jii じい and jiiji じいじ are distortions of jiji じじ, while baaba ばあば is a distortion of baba ばば.

          These terms are usually associated with children, who eventually stop using these words and start saying something else when they grow up. This isn't always the case, however, as there are adults who use them too.

          Some people consider these terms a bit rude, believing ojiisan and obaasan should be used instead.

          外祖父, 内祖父, 外祖母, 内祖母, 外孫, 内孫

          Historically, Japan has a system where the one true heir of a given family is usually be the "oldest son," chounan 長男, the "first-born son," ichinan 一男.

          Since this heir would inherit everything of the family, the family business, firms, heirlooms, cursed swords with demons sealed inside, houses, properties, style of martial arts, assets, etc. the heir would probably have to stay home learning about his ancestry and the techniques that have been passed down his family line for generations.

          Meanwhile, the daughters and the younger sons would go away and get married off into other families.

          Because of this, there's a practice of calling the heirs of the family line "inside," uchi 内, since they stay inside the family, and those that married into the family "outside," soto 外, since they come from outside the family. This can be seen in the following words:
          • nai-sofu 内祖父
          • nai-sobo 内祖母
          • nai-son 内孫
            uchi-mago 内孫
          • gai-sofu 外祖父
          • gai-sobo 外祖母
          • gai-son 外孫
            soto-mago 外孫

          The easiest way to tell these apart is the surname, or family name.

          If your grandparent had to changed their family name to yours, they're from "outside" and entered the family. If your grandchild has a different surname than yours, they've left your family and gone "outside."

          Generally speaking, the child of your son is "inside" while the child of your daughter is "outside."

          An exception happens when a mukoyoushi 婿養子 is involved, which is a husband that takes the wife's family name. If your son is a mukoyoushi, he changed his family name, so his child is going to be "outside" your family. Conversely, if your daughter marries a mukoyoushi, she keeps your family name, so her child would be "inside" your family.

          The practice of calling heirs this way has fallen out of usage since World War II, probably because it became less relevant in modern times. Because of this, not everyone knows the words' original meanings.

          Instead, they'll assume a gaisofu always means the maternal grandfather, as it normally means that, even though there's a possibility that's not the case.

          For example, if your father is mukoyoushi, then gaisofu would be your paternal grandfather, because your mother kept her family name. Since you inherited the family name from your mother, you were born "inside" your mother's family, and "outside" your father's family. Consequently, your mother parents are "inside" and your father parents "outside."


          叔父, 伯父, 叔母, 伯母

          In Japanese, the words "uncle," oji, "aunt," oba, and their derivatives may be written with different kanji: 伯父 and 叔父 for oji, 伯母 and 叔母 for oba.

          The difference between 伯父 and 叔父 is that 伯父 is your "mother or father's older brother," fubo no ani 父母の兄, while 叔父 is your "mother or father's younger brother," fubo no otouto 父母の弟.

          Likewise, the difference between 伯母 and 叔母 is that 伯母 is your "mother or father's older sister," fubo no ane 父母の姉, while 叔母 is your "mother or father's younger sister," fubo no imouto 父母の妹.

          Why Different Kanji?

          The truth is there aren't Japanese words for your "parent's younger brother" and for your "parent's older brother." There's only one single word for both cases: oji, your "parent's brother."

          The reason it gets written differently according to the seniority is because kanji were imported from China, and in the Chinese language (I guess) there's one word for the younger brother uncle and one word for the older brother uncle.

          So Chinese had four words while Japanese only has two, oji and oba. This mismatch is why there are extra ways to write the same Japanese word and those extra ways bear different meaning according to their Chinese origins.

          従兄弟, 従姉妹, 従兄, 従弟, 従姉, 従妹

          The word for cousin in Japanese, itoko いとこ, may be written with different kanji depending on what it refers to.

          When written with just the kanji for older brother, younger brother, older sister, or younger sister, it implies the gender and age of the cousin in question. In this case, the age refers to whether the cousin is older or younger than you (or if you say X's cousin, older or younger than X.)
          • itoko 従兄
            Older male cousin.
          • itoko 従弟
            Younger male cousin.
          • itoko 従姉
            Older female cousin.
          • itoko 従妹
            Younger female cousin.

          Those kanji can be combined, just like in the words "brothers," kyoudai 兄妹, or "sisters," shimai 姉妹, in which case it refers to:
          • itoko 従兄弟
            Male cousins.
          • itoko 従姉妹
            Female cousins.
          • itoko 従兄妹
            One male cousin and his younger sister.
          • itoko 従姉弟
            One female cousin and her younger brother.

          Why Itoko Has So Many Kanji?

          The reason why the word itoko words this way is because in Chinese there are actually different words depending on the cousin and the kanji combinations stem from how those words are written in hanzi..

          Basically, there's just one common Japanese word, itoko, for all those Chinese counterparts, which is why itoko becomes gikun

          Sometimes those words can get read with on'yomi instead, changing depending on the kanji, for example:
          • juukei 従兄
          • juutei 従弟
          • juushi 従姉
          • juumai 従妹


          Family Words

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