Saturday, February 23, 2019

kakko-tsukete カッコつけて

In Japanese, kakko-tsukete カッコつけて means "to show off," to try to look "cool," kakkoii カッコいい. It's specially used when someone does something in front of someone else in order to impress them. And it's often used to critique someone for trying to look cool but looking lame instead because they're trying too hard.


The word kakko-tsukete has a bunch of variants which you may encounter that mean basically the same thing:
  • kakko-tsuke
    かっこつけ, カッコつけ
  • kakko-tsukete
    かっこつけて, カッコつけて, かっこ付けて, カッコ付けて
  • kakko wo tsukete
    かっこをつけて, カッコをつけて, かっこを付けて, カッコを付けて
  • kakkou tsukete
    格好つけて, 格好付けて
  • kakkou wo tsukete
    格好をつけて, 格好を付けて

Plus, kakko-tsukete is conjugated to the te-form, the dictionary form would be:
  • kakko-tsukeru
    かっこつける, カッコつける, かっこ付ける, カッコ付ける
  • kakko wo tsukeru
    かっこをつける, カッコをつける, かっこを付ける, カッコを付ける
  • kakkou tsukeru
  • kakkou wo tsukeru
    格好をつける, 格好を付ける

And sometimes you see this other, shorter noun form, which refers to the act of kakko-tsukeru'ing:
  • kakko-tsuke
    かっこつけ, カッコつけ, かっこ付け, カッコ付け
  • kakkou tsuke
    格好つけ, 格好付け

Now if you're wondering why in Kamisama's name are there so many ways to write the same single word in Japanese, the answer is simple: it's because Japanese hates you.

Or rather, it's because kakko-tsukete カッコつけて is the abbreviation of kakkou 格好, kakko カッコ, meaning "appearance," plus the te-form of the verb tsukeru 付ける, "to attach." Literally "to attach [a good] appearance [to yourself]" so you can impress others.

But kakko カッコ can be spelled with katakana, or it can be spelled with hiragana, as kakko かっこ, and the verb tsukeru 付ける is often spelled without kanji, as tsukeru 付ける. Also, since "appearance" is the object to the verb "to attach," it needs the object marking particle wo を, kakkou wo tsukeru 格好をつける, but that gets frequently omitted in the abbreviated form: kakko-tsukeru カッコつける.


Regardless of spelling and brevity choice, what matters if how kakko-tsukete カッコつけて is used in Japanese.

Often, it's in a bad meaning.

To elaborate: kakko-tsukeru カッコつける means to put up on a good appearance in order to impress someone else. To try to look cool. To act cool. Sometimes, to act in an admirable way. To try to be kakkoii. And surely, trying to give someone a good impression of you can't be bad, right?

ニャリ・・・カッコつけたかったんじゃよ おまえの前で quote from manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 (Chapter 317)
Manga: "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure," JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 (Chapter 317)
  • Context: a father does something cool in front of his son.
  • nyari...
    *[son] smiles [approvingly]* (mimetic word.)
  • kakko-tsuketakatta-n-ja yo
    [I] wanted to look cool.
  • omae no mae de
    In front of you.
    • I wanted to impress you.
    • omae お前
    • mae
      Front. Forward.
      Before. (in time.)

What happens though, is that the word kakko-tsukete is often used in the "show off" sense when showing off doesn't work well.
  • You tried to look cool, but... why? Why are you doing this? What's the point? Who are you trying to impress?
  • You tried to look cool, but... it didn't work at all. You look lame. It's embarrassing just to look at you.
  • You tried to look cool, but... it backfired. Like you were walking a girl back home at night bragging about how "alert" you are and how you'd defend her should anything happen and then you hit your head against a lamp post.

In other words, although kakko-tsukete is about trying to look kakkoii, the word is often used when someone ends up looking "lame," kakkowarui カッコ悪い, dasai ダサい, instead.

Grammatically, kakko-tsukete is the te-form of kakko-tsukeru, which means it's normally used to connect the fact you tried to show off to something in consequence of it. For example:
  • kakko-tsukete shinda
    Tried to show off and died.
    • Died trying to show off.
    • Tried to show off by doing something cool, and because of that, died.
  • kakko-tsukete "____" toka itte
    Tried to show off, and said "something," and...
    • "Something" is whatever they bragged about.
    • Example:
    • kakko-tsukete "itsunomo" toka itte
      Tried to show off by saying "the usual." (when ordering something from an establishment, as if they're a regular, important client worthy of his orders being remembered by the staff working everyday there with dozens of clients.)
  • ima sara kakko-tsukete dou suru?
    Now, [you] tried to show off, [then] do what?
    • What are you going to do trying to show off at this point?
    • What are you planning to do showing off now?
    • ima sara いまさら
      Now, after all that happened. Implying it's too late for that.
    • dou suru どうする
      What are you going to do? What do you intend to do? Used to ask what in the world is someone planning doing something.

The te-form can also be used to refer to something someone has done when it comes at the end of the sentence:
  • yowai kuse-ni kakko-tsukete
    In spite of being weak, shows off.
    • You're trying to show off even though you're a wimp.

Lastly, the te-form can also be used in an imperative way, to tell someone to do the verb, in this case, to kakko-tsukete:
  • ki wo tsukete ne
    Be careful, okay?
  • kakko-tsukete ne
    Try to look cool, okay?


For reference, how to conjugate kakko-tsukete, or rather, kakko-tsukeru:
  • kakko-tsukeru カッコつける
    To show off. To try to look cool. To try to impress someone.
  • kakko-tsuketa カッコつけた
    Showed off. Tried to look cool.
    • Past form.
  • kakko-tsukenai カッコつけない
    To not show off. To not try to look cool.
    • Negative form.
  • kakko-tsukenaktta カッコつけなかった
    Did not show off.

Note that kakko-tsukete can't be the verb of a relative clause qualifying, but other conjugations can. For example:
  • kakko-tsukeru toki wa...
    The time [when you] show off...
    • When showing off... (you should do this, etc.)
  • kakko-tsukenai hito wa kakkoii
    A person [that] doesn't show off is cool.
    • People who don't try to act cool are cool.
    • Because if you're cool you don't need to try to look cool, you just are.
    • Likewise, any man who must say "I am the King" is no true king.

Besides these, there are also more complex conjugations, like:
  • kakko-tsukenaide
    Don't try to act cool.
    • Please.
    • I'm not impressed.
  • kiakko-tsuketai
    I want to show off.
  • kakko-tsukete-hoshii
    [I] want [you] to show off.
  • kakko-tsukete-kurenai
    [He] doesn't show off [for me].
  • kakko-tsukezu
    Without trying to look cool.
    Without showing off.
  • kakko-tsukete-mo muda da
    Even if you try to look cool, it's futile.
    Trying to show off won't work.

Kakko-tsuketeru カッコつけてる

The word kakko-tsuketeru カッコつけてる is an abbreviation of kakko-tsuketeiru カッコつけている, which is an abbreviation of kakkou-tsuketeiru 格好つけている, which is an abbreviation of kakkou wo tsuketeiru 格好を付けている, which basically means it's the te-iru form of kakko-tsukete.
  • kakko-tsuketeru tsumori
    The intention [which is] trying to show off.
    • Are you intending to show off?
    • Are you trying to show off?
    • I mean, what's that supposed to be? Is that supposed to look cool?

Nani Kakko-tsukete-n-no? 何カッコつけてんの?

Sometimes, when someone tries to look cool in anime, someone who's not impressed by it will say:
  • nani kakko-tsukete-n-no?
    Why are you trying to look cool?
    Why are you showing off?
    Who are you trying to impress?
    Who do you think you are, showing off like that?

And so on.

Because this is a rather weird phrase, I think it's worth explaining what's going on here:
  • nani
    • Often used as an expression doubt.
  • n-no んの
    Contraction of:
  • ru-no るの

So all these phrases mean the same thing:
  • kakko-tsukete-n-no
  • kakko-tsuketeru no
  • kakko-tsuketeiru no

So the phrase was the word nani, plus kakko-tsukete in the te-iru form, plus the no の at the end which you'll find in sentences expressing doubt:
  • nani suru no?
    What will [you] do?
    • What are you going to do?

Kakko-tsuke カッコつけ

The conjugation kakko-tsuke カッコつけ is a noun form of kakko-tsukete. A noun referring to act of showing off. The way it's commonly used, however, is in compound words created by attaching suffixes to it:
  • kakko-tsuke-kata
    Way of showing off.
    • How one shows off.
  • kakko-tsuke-sugi
    Shown off too much.
    • Trying too hard.
    • sugiru 過ぎる
      To exceed.

Kakko-tsuke-yagatte カッコつけやがって

The word kakko-tsuke-yagatte カッコつけやがって means "to have the nerve of showing off." It's kakko-tsuke plus the auxiliary verb yagaru やがる, which is used when the speaker is angry at someone else for doing something.

It say "have the nerve of" but it's often not translated as such. You'd probably use an expletive instead: "damn him for showing off!"

Also, in manga sometimes you have situations like, somebody's parent went to save someone and died in the process. The orphaned child, frustrated, may use the phrase to say his parent tried to be a hero and died. Of course, that doesn't mean his parent was "trying" to show off, it's just the perspective of the character.

Further Reading

  • カッコつけてるのにダサいと思ったこと -, accessed 2019-02-23.
    Examples of things someone thought would kakko-tsukete but looked dasai instead. Notably:
    • yuuchuubaa
      Youtuber. (bragging about being a Youtuber, probably?)
    • ikemen janai noni, ore ikemen daro? teki na kakkotsuketa hyoujou suru hito.
      People who aren't hot but show off making a face like "I'm hot, ain't I?"
    • dokuro no fuku toka akusesarii
      Clothes [featuring] skulls, etc. accessories.
    • chuu-kousei no tabako
      Middle and high school students smoking.
      (well-known that they're trying to look cool because they think cool kids smoke.)
    • A lot of comments about haircuts, outfit choices, and even about liking certain bands. A lot of them aren't good examples of kakko-tsukete, they're examples of how people call dasai stuff they think is lame.
kakkou 格好

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