Friday, July 2, 2021


In Japanese, boke ボケ means "idiot," or something stupid someone does, specially in comedy.

何か用でしょうか? 話を今してんのはこのオレだッ! 誰が質問していいと言ったッ!? このボケがッ!
Manga: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Part 5: Golden Wind, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 黄金の風 (Chapter 2 (441), 黄金体験その②)


The noun boke is probably related to the verb tobokeru 惚ける, meaning "to become dumb," in the sense of dim-witted, slow. As a verb, bokeru ボケる, its origin seems to be from hokeru ほける, houkeru 惚ける, which means to become absent-minded when doing a task.(デジタル大辞泉:惚ける)

In any case, boke clearly means someone is empty-headed.


In manzai 漫才, a type of comedy performed by a duo of comedians, one comedian plays dumb, by saying things wrong, getting things wrong, or doing stupid things, while the other one retorts, saying what the first one did wrong, or pointing out how stupid it was.

Every time the first comedian says something wrong or stupid, that's called a boke, and every time the other comedian retorts or questions a boke, that's called a tsukkomi ツッコミ.

Since this type of comedy always has one person doing the boke and one doing the tsukkomi, the comedians are also said to be the boke or the tsukkomi of a duo, which is short for:

  • boke-yaku
    boke role.
    Someone whose role is doing the boke (playing dumb).
  • tsukkomi-yaku
    tsukkomi role.
    Someone whose role is doing the tsukkomi (retorting).

The word boke can be also be used as a verb:

  • bokeru
    To do a boke.
    To play dumb.
なにこのハイペースなボケ・・・ まるで私のツッコミを待ってるかのような・・・・・・ ダメ!ツッコんだらだめよ!! なんだよ水上 2コもメガネしてんじゃん ハハハ 田中のヤロー!!! 私のツッコミを・・・・・・ 私だけに許された最高のツッコミを!!! ボクッ はっ いやちがうちがう 私んじゃない それは私のツッコミじゃないから!!
Manga: Nichijou 日常 (Chapter 28)
  • Context: Aioi Yuuko 相生祐子 always does a tsukkomi when Minakami Mai 水上麻衣 does a boke, however, feeling this isn't a proper relationship for two high school girls to have, Yuuko decides she won't do a tsukkomi anymore, no matter what happens, prompting Mai to do even stupider boke's, like coming to school wearing two glasses, and looking for her glasses on the floor as if she had lost them while still wearing both of them.
  • nani kono {hai-peesu na} boke...
    What is this {high-paced} boke...
  • marude {watashi no tsukkomi wo matteru} ka no you na......
    It's as if {[she] is waiting for my tsukkomi}......
  • dame! {tsukkondara} dame yo!!
    [Don't do it]! {If [you] make a retort} [you lose]!!
  • nanda yo, Minakami
    [What's wrong], Minakami.
  • ni-ko mo megane shite-n-jan
    You're wearing two glasses.
    • shite-n-jan - contraction of shite-iru no dewanai しているのではない.
  • hahaha
  • Tanaka no yaroo!!!
    Tanaka, [you bastard]!!!
  • watashi no tsukkomi wo......
    My tsukkomi......
    (incomplete sentence: "[you] [stole] my tsukkomi.")
  • {watashi dake ni yurusareta} saikou no tsukkomi wo!!!
    The greatest tsukkomi [that] {was only allowed to me}!!! (literally.)
    (incomplete sentence.)
    • In the sense of "only I, and not anyone else, was allowed to make a retort, how dare you take that from me!"
  • boku'
    *pencil snapping.*
  • ha'
    Hah! (her snapping back from a moment of utter jealously.)
  • iya chigau chigau
    No, [that's wrong, that's wrong].
  • watashi-n-janai
    [It] isn't mine.
    • Contraction of watashi no janai.
  • sore wa watashi no tsukkomi janai kara!!
    That's not my tsukkomi!!
    • In this scene, Yuuko resisted the urge to do an epic tsukkomi on Mai's boke, allowing Tanaka to do a pretty weak tsukkomi on it before her: "you're wearing two glasses, hahaha."


The word boke can also be used to call someone an "idiot" outside of manzai contexts.

何か用でしょうか? 話を今してんのはこのオレだッ! 誰が質問していいと言ったッ!? このボケがッ!
Manga: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Part 5: Golden Wind, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 黄金の風 (Chapter 2 (441), 黄金体験その②)
  • Context: how to start a conversation.
  • nani-ka you deshou ka?
    Do [you] have business [with me]?
    Is there something you want?
    Anything you want to discuss?
    What's the matter?
  • hanashi wo ima shite-n-no wa kono ore da'!
    話を今してんのは このオレだ
    I am [the one] talking [right] now!
    • shite-n-no - contraction of shite-iru no しているの.
  • {dare ga shitsumon shite}-ii to itta'!?
    Who said [it] was alright {to ask questions}!?
  • kono boke ga'!
    [You] idiot!
    (kono この used in swearing.)

Expletive at Sentence End

Sometimes, boke shows up at sentence end together with other expletives when a character is shouting angry or extremely excited for some reason.

柿とピーナッツの割合は7:3に決まっとるやろーがァァ!! 世の中の事は全てコレ 7:3でピッチリうまく分けられるよーなっとんじゃ!! 7:3が宇宙万物根元の黄金比じゃボケコラカスぅ!!
Manga: Gintama 銀魂 (Chapter 105, 柿ピーはあんまり食べ過ぎちゃダメ)
  • Context: Kurogoma Katsuo 黒駒勝男 explains the perfect ratio of rice crackers to peanuts.
    • Note: kakipii 柿ピー is common mixture of two snacks, kaki no tane 柿の種, which is rice cracker shaped as a "persimmon seed," and peanuts.
  • kaki to piinattsu no wariai wa hichi tai san ni kimattoru yaroo gaaa!!
    The ratio of rice crackers to peanuts is [obviously] 7:3!!
    • hichi - same as shichi.
    • kimattoru yarou - same as kimatte-iru darou 決まっているだろう.
  • *he gestures to his hair.*
    • shichisanwake
      Seven-three-parting. The term for this parted hairstyle, and what he's talking about.
  • yo no naka no koto wa subete kore, hichi tai san de picchiri umaku wakerareru yoo nattonja!!
    世の中の事は全てコレ 7:3でピッチリうまく分けられるよーなっとんじゃ!!
    Everything in the word is this (like his hair), [created so that] [it] can be perfectly divided into seven to three!
    • wakerareru yoo ni nattonja - same as wakerareru you ni natte-iru-n-da 分けられるようになっているんだ.
    • An eventivization of the stative verb wakerareru, "to be able to divide," which is the potential form of wakeru 分ける, "to divide."
  • hichi tai san ga uchuu banbutsu kongen no ougonhi ja, boke kora kasuu!!
    Seven to three is the golden ratio of the origin of all creation in the universe, *expletives*!!


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