And kanji with manga
Monday, April 23, 2018

ojisan おじさん

In Japanese, ojisan おじさん means "uncle," but sometimes refers to an older man.

Not to be confused with ojiisan おじいさん, or ojīsan with a macron, which mean "grandfather" instead.


The word ojisan can be written with kanji in multiple ways, depending on the meaning of the word:

  • ojisan
    Uncle, who is your parent's older brother. In other words, the oniisan of your otousan or okaasan.
  • ojisan
    Uncle, who is your parent's younger brother. In other words, the otouto of your otousan or okaasan.
  • ojisan
    Elder man.


With family words in o__san お〇〇さん pattern, the o~ お~ prefix can be removed, and the honorific suffix can be changed between ~san ~さん, ~chan ~ちゃん, and ~sama ~さま.

  • ojichan
  • jichan
    (same meaning.)
  • ojisama
    (more respectful.)

The words ossan おっさん, occhan おっちゃん, are other variants of ojisan.

vs. 伯父

The difference between ojisan and oji 伯父 (叔父) is that oji doesn't have honorifics.

Since you don't use honorifics toward yourself, when talking to other people about your family, you use oji 伯父 to refer to your uncle, and ojisan 伯父さん to refer to their uncle.

However, when talking to your own family, ojisan refers to your own uncle.

Toward Older Men

The word ojisan 小父さん can also refer not to your "uncle" but to an elder man instead. There's no hard rule about how old he has to be. It's a mid-point between oniisan and ojiisan.

In anime, sometimes child characters can call young men in their 20's ojisan, giving them a bitter and unwarranted taste of the cruelty inherent of the passage of time.

One particular anime about an ojisan:

  • ojisan to mashumaro
    Ojisan & Marshmallow.

When the word is used like this, it sometimes comes after the demonstrative pronouns kono, sono, ano.

  • ano ojisan
    That old man.
  • ano ossan
    (same meaning.)
  • kono ojisan
    You! (you old man!)
  • kono ossan
    (same meaning.)

Ojisan Fish

The word ojisan オジサン can also refer to a certain fish, the Manybar Goatfish (Parupeneus Multifasciatus).

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