And kanji with manga
Thursday, May 31, 2018

yome 嫁

In Japanese, yome 嫁 means "wife," or "bride," or "daughter-in-law," the "wife of your son," or "bride of your son." It can also mean "read!" but that's a bit unrelated to this article.


The word yome written in kanji is yome 嫁. A simple, single-kanji word. Pretty basic. Not to be confused with the homonym yome 読め conjugated from the verb yomu 読む, "to read."


The word yome is a kind of strange word due to it's myriad of family-related uses. Let's go through then one by one.

First, nowadays, yome is one way used by husbands to refer to their wives, or to other people's wives. In Japanese there are dozens of different ways to refer to one's wife, including even okaasan お母さん, which normally "mother," and yome is one of them.

Second, it can be used toward a woman who is going to marry, or has recently married someone. In other words, it can mean "bride," or "newly-wed woman."

Third, originally, it used to refer to the wife or bride of one's son. One's "daughter-in-law." It's still used this way, but it used to be used this way too. (we'll see the why of this mess further below.)

Yomesan 嫁さん

The word yomesan 嫁さん is just yome 嫁 with a san さん honorific. Meaning wife, bride, daughter-in-law, etc.

Unlike most family words, yomesan is still be used toward your own wife despite having honorifics. That is, for example, oniisan お兄さん, "brother," isn't used to speak of your own brother to people outside of your family in Japanese, you'd use ani instead. But yome and yomesan do not have this distinction.

Oyomesan お嫁さん

The word oyomesan お嫁さん is yome with both the suffix and the honorific prefix o, making it a word in the o__san お〇〇さん pattern. It's usage is pretty much the same as yomesan, only it feels more polite, a more gentle way of saying.

boku wa kimi wo boku no oyomesan ni suru tsumori demo arunda. I also have the intention to make you into my bride. Quote from manga Mahoutsukai no Yome 魔法使いの嫁, "Magic User's Bride."

Hanayome 花嫁

The word hanayome 花嫁, written with hana 鼻, "nose," means nosey-wife or som-- no, wait, written with hana 花, "flower, " would be something like "flower-bride," and refers to the bride in a wedding, or one about to marry.

This, of course, comes from the idea of floral weddings, where, in a "wedding ceremony," kekkon-shiki 結婚式, the bride holds a "bouquet" of flowers, buuke ブーケ.

Yakumo no hanayome-sugata mo mitakatta kedo... u...uun... ii yo... sonna... airgatou!! gomen ne! I wanted to see Yakumo as a (flower) bride though. N... no... [It's] alright. [Something] like that... Thank you! Sorry [for the trouble]. Quote from manga School Rumble.

Ore no Yome 俺の嫁

The phrase ore no yome 俺の嫁, literally "my wife" or "my bride," and technically "my daughter-in-law" too though it honestly has nothing to do with that, is used in the internet and specially in Japanese manga and anime communities to refer to one's... waifu.

Yeah, ore no yome means waifu in Japanese. Which means that waifu ワイフ despite being Japanese does not mean "waifu" in Japanese. Top 10 anime betrayals. Check the post on the word waifu for further details.

Muko 婿

The male counterpart of yome 嫁 is muko 婿, meaning "husband," "groom," or "son-in-law," and having similar origins.

Like hanayome, the word hanamuko 花婿 would refer to the (flower) "groom" in the wedding, probably dressed for the ceremony. unberdeaded guy go the "part" (role), yaku 役, of Tsukamoto's groom in a piece... yurusen hige mo nee yatsu ni Tsukamoto Tenma no hanamuko-yaku no shikaku wa nee!! hanamuko wa... ore nomi!! [I] can't forgive [it] A guy without even a beard doesn't have the qualifications [for] Tenma Tsukamoto's (flower) groom part! The (flower) groom [shall be]... me only!! Quote from the manga School Rumble

Unlike ore no yome 俺の嫁, the word ore no muko 俺の婿 holds no special meaning within the Japanese anime fandom, that is, it doesn't refer to the male waifu, the "husbando," of a (presumably) female fan. Because to begin with ore is basically a male first person pronoun, so it sounds like it's about the groom of a guy.

The phrase watashi no muko 私の婿, "my groom," would make more sense, as watashi is more commonly used by women, but the only thing ore no yome and watashi no muko share in common is that tiny no in the middle. So, as one would expect, it isn't used similarly either.


Regarding the origins of the word yome, and how it means both "bride" and "daughter-in-law" at the same time... it's complicated.

Traditionally, in a single Japanese family, one would refer to the man of the house, the husband, the "lord" of the house, as shujin 主人 (maybe even goshujinsama ご主人様), and his wife as okusama 奥様.

In this scheme, the wife of the son of the shujin of a household would be that family's yome 嫁. That is, "daughter-in-law" of the family. Conversely, the husband of the daughter of the shujin would be that family's muko 婿, the "son-in-law" of the family.

Japanese Family System

Why is this important: in Japan, there was a strong family unit culture. Families had business going on for generations. Those businesses carried the family name, which were normally inherited by the first-born male children over and over again. Mixing two families through marriage was kind of a big deal.

When the son brought home a woman to marry, a wife, she brought her from outside the family. And she would marry into the family. Marrying means she'd lose her birth family name, her surname, and get it replaced with a married name, the family name of the son, her husband. From the point of view of the family, this essentially meant branding an outsider with the family name, which is a very risky idea business-wise.

I mean, consider this: imagine a company called Tanaka Corporation letting any one woman use their brand. What if some random nutjob starts making videos of her killing cats or some shit and posting it on Youtube with the Tanaka trademark as a watermark. It associates Tanaka Corp. with killing kittens, pours dirt on the honorable company name. Not good for business.

Of course, there wasn't Youtube at the time we're talking about, but it's the same thing. Families couldn't let just any girl join the family. So, for a while, this pseudo-wife would have to live in the family's home, trying to convince the parents-in-law that she's a woman suited to their son. This could go on for years, and during this while she was a yome.


As time went by, this family system stuff literally became a thing of the past. Sure, it still lingers in some ways or forms to this day, but it's generally weakened, and, as such, the word yome stopped having this "woman who comes from outside the family" nuance it once had.

Instead, it probably began to adopt the "woman who's going to marry" nuance instead. Which probably was how it ended up being "woman who's newly-wed," and "woman I'll marry with," and "woman I've married with," and so on.

Mukoyoushi 婿養子

By the way, there were cases where a family & family's business ended up being inherited by a daughter instead of a son. This could happen if the family had no sons, for example, only daughters. In this case, the situation could be reversed, with the husband marrying into the daughter's family.

This meant the husband would lose his birth family name and get it replaced with the family name of the family he's marrying into. You'd assume this means the wife's family is some very powerful family, with a very well-known name, otherwise there's not much point in this. Although of course it could happen for other reasons, too.

Anyway, when this happens, the muko 婿, "son-in-law," is denominated mukoyoushi 婿養子, which combines muko with "adopted child," youshi 養子, since it's kind of like he's been adopted into the family, given his family name change.

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