Friday, February 22, 2019

kakkoii かっこいい - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, kakkoii かっこいい means "good-looking." It's generally used toward things and people who "look good," in various ways, such as looking "cool," "impressive," "stylish," "fashionable," "admirable," and so on.

Variants of the word include: kakkoii カッコイイ, kakko-ii カッコいい, かっこ良い, kakko-yoi かっこよい, kakkou-ii 格好いい, 格好良い, kakkou-yoi 格好よい, and kakkee かっけえ, かっけぇ, かっけー.



Generally speaking, kakko-ii かっこいい is used toward cool things and people who do cool things. Basically anything you find in shounen anime: guns, swords, robots, giant robots, giant guns, giant swords, ninja, samurai, pirates, etc. are kakko-ii.

  • kakko-ii!
    [It's] cool!
    [That's] cool!

Since kakkoii かっこいい is an adjective, it can come before nouns to say it's a "cool" thing. For example:

  • kakkoii robotto
    A cool robot..
  • kakkoii katana
    A cool sword.
  • kakkoii namae
    A cool name.
  • kakkoii kyara
    A cool character.
    • kakkoii kyarakutaa
      (same meaning.)
    • Of an anime, manga, fiction, etc.
    • Doesn't mean "cool personality."

And of course:

  • kakkoii serifu
    A cool line. (line as in something you say, line of dialogue.)
  • kakkoii koto wo iu
    To say a cool thing.
    To say [something] cool.


  • ore no nakama wa zettai korosase ya shinaai yo!
    Absolutely won't let [you] kill my [friends]!
    • I'll never let my friends be killed!
    • Kakashi, from Naruto.
  • mou daijoubu! WATASHI GA KITA
    [It's] now alright! I came.
    • It's alright now! I'm here.
    • —All Might, from Boku no Hero Academia.
  • daga kotowaru!
    But [I] refuse!
    • Kishibe Rohan, from Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken.
  • ore ga omae ni katenai nante koto wa
    ore ga ichiban yoku wakatteru-n-da-yoo'......!!
    sore demo yaru shika nai-n-da
    ore shika inai-n-da
    kateru katenai janaku
    koko de ore wa omae ni tachi-mukawanakucha ikenai-n-da!

    That I can't defeat you,
    I'm the one that knows that the most well.
    Even so I have to do it.
    There's nobody here but me.
    Whether I can win or I can't win doesn't matter.
    What matters is that here, I must stand against you.
    • —Mumen Rider, from One Punch Man.
淳兄の高校生やったころは そりゃもう 格好よかなんてもんじゃなかったですよ ケンカもめっぽう強かし 頭もよかし
Manga: Kids on the Slope, Sakamichi no Apollon 坂道のアポロン (Chapter 18)
  • Context: the speaker confidently talks about how amazing Jun was.
  • {Jun-nii no koukousei φ yatta} koro wa
    Around the time {brother Jun [was] a high school student}.
  • sorya mou
    "That [was] already"
    • Expression used to assert something was incredible.
  • {kakkou yoka nante} mon janakatta desu yo
    Not something {[you'd call just] cool}.
    • He was more than just cool.
    • Note: this is kyuushuu dialect. In which i-adjectives sometimes end in ka instead.
    • kakkou yoka 格好よか
      kakkou yoi 格好よい
      kakkou ii 格好いい
  • kenka mo meppou tsuyokashi
    In fighting, too, [he was] extremely strong.
    • tsuyoka 強か
      tsuyoi 強い
  • atama mo yokashi
    [He was also smart.]

"To Look Cool"

Sometimes, kakkoii かっこいい ends up being translated as "looks cool," that is, as a verb, despite the fact that kakkoii is an i-adjective, not a verb.

どう? どうってなにが? カッコいいかどうかに決まってるでしょ!! めんどくせぇな!!
Manga: Gabriel DropOut, ガヴリールドロップアウト (Chapter 13)
  • Context: a girl strikes a pose with a gun in hand.
  • dou?
    How is it? (literally.)
    • How does it look?
    • How do I look?
  • dou tte nani ga?
    How is what?
    • How is it? What [are you talking about.] (literally.)
  • kakkoii ka dou ka ni kimatteru desho!!
    [I'm talking about] whether it [looks] cool or not, obviously!!
  • mendokusee na!!
    What a pain in the ass, aren't you!!
    • The other girl doesn't feel like answering this sorta stuff.
    • mendou-kusai
      Smelling of trouble. To seem like trouble. To look like a pain.


Literally, kakkoii かっこいい is the word kakko カッコ, which is an abbreviation of kakkou 格好, "appearance," plus the i-adjective ii いい, "good," so it means "good-looking," just like kimochi-ii 気持ちいい means "good-feeling."

But "to look good" is rather vague. It's important to know what kind of "good" does kakkoii mean.

Basically, kakko-ii is the antonym of "lame," which is literally kakkowarui かっこ悪い in Japanese. If you're the opposite of lame, you're kakkoii. Of course, that doesn't mean you need to be a badass like Michael L. Jackson to be kakkoii, you can be kakkoii for a lot of reasons.

"Good Impression"

Besides being used to say "cool," kakkoii is used more generally to say the appearance of something leaves a "good impression."

This "appearance" can be how it looks like, but also how it sounds like, how someone behaves like, and so on. So long as it leaves a favorable impression, it's kakkoii.


Thus, kakkoii can be used toward clothes, outfits, if said clothes leave a good impression: if they're fashionable, if someone is well-dressed.

  • kakkoii fuku
    Good-looking clothes.
    Clothes that leave a good impression.
    Fashionable clothes.
    Stylish clothes.
  • kakkoii kuruma
    Good-looking car.
    Car that leaves a good impression.
    Fashionable car.
    Stylish car.


Another way kakkoii is normally used is to talk about the physical appearance of people: attractiveness leaves a good impression.

  • kakkoii otoko
    A good-looking man.
    An impressively looking man.
    A handsome man.
  • kakkoii onna
    A good-looking woman.
    An impressively looking woman.
    A handsome woman?
    • Oddly, you don't usually call women handsome in English, but the idea is more-or-less the same.


Sometimes, doing a good act of kindness, or saying the morally right thing, can leave a good impression to someone. Since it leaves a good impression, it makes you kakkoii. In this sense, kakkoii would better be translated as "admirable."

Kakkoii Tokoro かっこいい所

The phrase kakkoii tokoro カッコいい所 means literally a "good-looking spot." It's often used when you want to show someone yourself in a "good-looking situation," in order to impression them. When you want to show what's impressive about you.

It's also spelled kakkoii toko かっこいいトコ.

  • kakkoii tokoro wo miseru
    kakkoii toko wo miseru
    To show a good-looking spot.
    • To (try to) impress someone by doing something impressive.
    • To show a part of [you] that's impressive.
    • To show off by doing something cool, impressive, admirable, etc.

This can happen, for example, when guys try to win sports matches or fight delinquents in order to show off to a girl, or when a father tries to show he's a "cool dad" and impress their child by doing something, and so on.

Similar Words

Although kakkoii can be translated as "cool," it only means someone or something that has a cool appearance. Other words can be translated as "cool" when "cool" means something else.

  • suzushii
    Cool. (wind.)
    Refreshing. (juice.)
  • kuuru
    Cool. Calm. Composed. (e.g. a kuudere クーデレ.)
Sakamoto 坂本, example of student being made stand in the hallway holding buckets of water.
Character: Sakamoto 坂本
Anime: Sakamoto Desu ga? 坂本ですが? (Episode 1, Stitch)

Likewise, although kakkoii can be translated as "looks good," there are other words which can be translated like that:

  • yoku dekite-iru
    [It looks good.]
    [It looks] well made.
  • yoku dekita
    [It looks good.]
    Well done.
  • genki sou desu
    [He looks good.]
    [He seems well.]
    [He seems to be in good health.]
  • iketeru
    [He looks good.]
    • Slang used in the "well-dressed" or "stylish" sense only.
    • And only toward people.

Sarcastic Usage

The word kakkoii カッコいい isn't always used with honesty, sometimes it's used sarcastically, in order to mock someone.

This could happen between a group of friends to playfully embarrass someone, but in anime it most often happens when a villain or bad guy mocks the hero by saying stuff like:

  • kakkoii na
    [You're] cool, huh?
    • Oh, wow, you're so cool, doing heroic stuff like that.
    • You think you're the good guy, don't you?
    • Hey, look, we've got a "hero" here!

The word kakko-tsukete カッコつけて, used someone "tries to look cool," is also used in criticizing tone with certain frequency.


Since kakkoii カッコいい is a compound word that ends in an i-adjective, it can be inflected like an i-adjective:

  • kakkoyokatta
    [That] was cool.
    [You] were cool.
  • kakkoyokunai
    [That] isn't cool.
    [You] aren't cool.
  • kakkoyoku naritai
    [I] want to become cool.

Further Reading

kakkou 格好 Adjectives

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