Friday, May 3, 2019

otoko 男, 漢 - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, otoko means a "man." This article, however, is mostly about the slang otoko , which means a "MAN," as in a real man, a manly man, a man among men.

Character: Mikami Satoru 三上悟
Anime: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken, 転生したらスライムだった件 (Episode 1)
  • otoko (jishou)
    Man among men (self-proclaimed).

This is more like a meme than a word, showing up in manga and anime from time to time.


The manga slang otoko 漢 is an ateji, that is, we're spelling with a certain kanji a word that's normally spelled with different kanji, in this case, otoko 男.

In this case, 漢 is the kanji for "man" in Chinese. Normally, it can only be read as kan 漢 in Japanese, like in chikan 痴漢, "foolish man," "molester."

Another manga slang that's also an ateji is this:

  • {otoko no} ko

    A child [that] {is a man}.
    A {male} child.
    A boy.
    • This is a normal word.
  • {otoko no} ko
    A girl [that] {is a man}.
    A {male} girl.
    • This is a manga slang for a heroine that's actually male, i.e. a boy that looks like a girl, a.k.a. a "trap."


For reference, another example:

Manga: One Punch Man, Wanpanman ワンパンマン (Chapter 157)
  • Context: "Metal Bat," Kinzoku Batto 金属バット, explains why he's stronger after suffering injuries.
  • otoko wa {dare ka wo mamoru} toki ni ichiban chikara ga deru mon daro
    A man [is at his strongest] when {[he] is protecting someone}, isn't that right?
    • chikara ga deru
      Power gets out. (literally.)
      Strength bursts out.
    • i.e. when a man has someone to protect, he can bring out more strength than otherwise.

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