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I was wondering about this one recently. "Fuck" in English is famous for being applicable in a wide, wide range of circumstances (none of them formal).

What word in Japanese covers a wide spectrum of possible meanings and uses like "fuck" does. Does not have to be a rude/vulgar term.

Any suggestions?

EDIT: half of you seem to have missed the point of my question. I don't need a translation for "fuck", I want a word as versatile. Maji is pretty good but I would've thought there'd be more contenders. Admittedly it's a vague question, but one for my izakaya zatsugaku collection.

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It's a bit of a vague question: all "versatility of Fuck" jokes aside, the word is not that versatile: it is merely a very common interjection that has come to fit with pretty much any existing sentence, but it won't dramatically affect the meaning itself. As you may know, Japanese is not big on the overuse of profanity (even very harmless ones like ばか or くそ are reserved for big stuff), so an equivalent in this way is unlikely... –  Dave Jun 14 '11 at 14:27
Shouldn't we write "fuck" as "fuck"? Or is this about some other word? –  Kdansky Jun 14 '11 at 15:49
With @Kdanski on that... this is a language/linguistics forum: precision trumps misplaced prudishness and 'fuck' should be spelt out. Keeping the elided form in the title should be enough to spare easily-offended eyes while warning them of the horrors of explicit language contained therein. –  Dave Jun 14 '11 at 17:44
sounds like バカ and ちょう are candidates for the answer, but the question should be made wiki as there is no single answer to it. –  repecmps Jun 15 '11 at 1:49
“The four letter F word in English is famous for being applicable in a wide, wide range of circumstances […]” I do not think that this is true (as @Dave wrote in his first comment on this question), and the question does not really make sense. Voted to close as not a real question. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 15 '11 at 16:48

8 Answers 8

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I am surprised nobody mentioned: マジ

Only used as an adverb, with the meaning of "fucking", for instance マジ寒い for "fucking cold".

Combinations can be done: チョウ寒い、マジで!

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I don't think マジ寒い can be translated as "fucking cold", but it's versatile and matches the questions' requirements. +1 –  repecmps Jun 15 '11 at 9:23
@repecmps: Thanks for your feedback! How would you translate it? –  Nicolas Raoul Jun 15 '11 at 9:29
You can't really use マジ as interjection like クソ, but otherwise it's still plenty versatile. –  deceze Jun 16 '11 at 1:29
Ok, the winner is マジ ... it doesn't mean "fuck" (and didn't need). I will now explore it's wide usage further. :D –  crunchyt Jun 20 '11 at 0:47
@Nicolas Raoul: It's short for 真面目, or "seriously". You might say that because it isn't actually rude, you can use it in more places than "fuck". It's still highly informal though. –  SuperElectric Aug 1 '11 at 22:58

I would say 馬鹿(バカ) is kind of like that. You could use like バカデカイ(** huge).

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What about ちょう? I've heard it used as an adverb, adjective and standing by itself. Or was that local slang of the people I was with?

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ちょう / 超 works. It literally and figuratively translates as "super" as in 超疲れた = super-tired, 超面白かった = super-fun, etc. –  SuperElectric Aug 1 '11 at 23:00

What about 「[微妙]{びみょう}」. It is used to express something not quite well. e.g. [今日]{きょう}行{い}ったレストランは[微妙]{びみょう}だった。 It is also used to say about something subtle. e.g. [微妙]{びみょう}な[色彩]{しきさい}が[施]{ほどこ}された[絵画]{かいが}. It is also used when you cannot make up your mind. e.g. [明日暇]{あしたひま}? ん~[微妙]{びみょう}. It is also used for something unknown. e.g. [彼]{かれ}の[発言]{はつげん}で[微妙]{びみょう}な[空気]{くうき}が[流]{なが}れた。

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Can you add furigana please? –  Ataraxia Sep 25 '12 at 18:48
Done. I usually don't do this though. –  Teno Sep 25 '12 at 19:01
It wasn't necessary for every word, just for 微妙. It's generally a good idea to add furigana when you're introducing a new word. It's unlikely that a reader who can benefit from the post will know the reading without furigana. –  Ataraxia Sep 25 '12 at 19:07
Doesn't your web browser have Search with.. in the context menu? It is just a second to look up the highlighted word with it. As for 微妙, see the Google result. google.com/… The furigana is just right there. –  Teno Sep 25 '12 at 19:44

My Japanese isn't very good, but I've heard that 一応 can be used in a wide variety of contexts.

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しまった? i usually hear like あっ!しまった! in situations that i would usually mean, "ow, fuck!"

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Despite the (admittedly poor) wording of the title, this CW is not about translations for the word 'fuck', but about finding expletives/interjections of similar versatility. –  Dave Jun 18 '11 at 8:31
It comes from しまう so you should write しまった. I personally think it works at answering the question, so +1 –  repecmps Jun 18 '11 at 12:13
Close, but not quite as versatile. しまった is closer to "damn". It can't be used as an adverb like "fuck". e.g. "This is fucking great!" –  Ataraxia Sep 25 '12 at 17:07

I once checked what is the longest article in the Green Goddess (Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary). It was for き【気】, which had 10 main meanings and a huge number of idioms. My denshi jiten even had it split in two, probably because it ran into some software length limitation.

I actually managed to find a copy of the article on the web just now: http://pastie.org/pastes/260480

Here's the list of main meanings:

1 〔精神・心・意識〕 spirit; (a) mind; (a) heart.
2 〔気質・性格〕 (a) nature; a disposition.
3 〔意向〕 a mind; an intention; 〔意志〕 will; 〔意欲〕 high [strong] motivation; 〔意気・気力〕 spirit(s).
4 〔気持ち・気分〕 one's feelings; a mood; (a) frame of mind.
5 〔関心〕 interest.
6 〔注意力・心遣い〕 care; consideration; attention.
8 〔雰囲気〕 an atmosphere; 〔精気〕 essence; spirit.
9 【中国哲学】 〔生命の根元・生命力〕 chi; ch'i; qi.
10 〔香気〕 fragrance; aroma; 〔風味〕 taste; 〔燻気〕 fumes.

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What of 立つ? At first the word was very vague to me, I was thinking it meant only 'stand', but was used for many other things. It generally is used for any sort of standing, moving outward, a generally vague word; slightly different that 'fuck' because the context can be told by where the word is in the sentence, whereas 立つ is simply a verb.

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Did you read the other answers? 立つ does have several meanings, but so does みる and many, many other verbs. I don't think there is anything special about たつ. –  Earthliŋ Feb 1 '13 at 15:00
Yeah, I think I get what you mean. Its versatile as a verb but I guess not as versatile as fuck, seeing that it doesnt function as anything outside of a verb. –  yasmin-chanel Feb 1 '13 at 20:35

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