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Does Japanese slang use animal names to describe people's personalities in the same way English does? If so, what are some common ones?

For example, in English, men can often be called "dogs" or "cats"; sometimes I hear "ape".

  • All men are dogs! → can mean "disgusting", sexually selfish, etc.
  • That guy's a real cool cat. → a (smooth) guy; relaxed
  • What a bunch of apes! → Large, slow, possibly bumbling, rough, rude (野暮)

There are several common terms for women too: "birds" (usually British English only), "minx", "dogs", "foxes"/"foxy".

  • Do you fancy that bird? → a fine (young) woman
  • You wily minx! → a sly girl; possibly very flirtatious
  • OK, so my girlfriend's a dog. → an ugly woman
  • What a total fox! → attrictive, beautiful, sexy (which is ironic since foxes and dogs are closely related)

Does Japanese slang describe people with certain animals? The only one that comes to mind is 豚児, but that seems like antiquated "peasant" 謙譲語 more than slang. If they don't use animals, is there some other "system" that is used?

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@oldergod Sometimes it's easier to get the meaning in Japanese across when the comment doesn't have to be translated into English... perhaps? ^^; – summea May 24 '13 at 0:41
@oldergod, the point is that many students of Japanese appreciate the chance to study from Chocolate's comments. – yadokari May 24 '13 at 0:53
does 雌豚 count? Technically bitch is also animal in nature! – ssb May 24 '13 at 7:56
@Chocolate, please do not hesitate to write in Japanese. – yadokari May 24 '13 at 10:18
猿でも分かるお返事を楽しみに待ちます – Darius Jahandarie May 24 '13 at 17:03
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, there are some, but I get the impression that such usage is more common in English.

Here are some examples:

  • ~の犬 / spy of ...
  • [走狗]{そうく} / literal: hunting dog, but it means a lowly man that does just what he was told.
  • 馬鹿 / fool: while the origin of the word appears more complex, I think this one still counts.
  • 猿芝居 / a poor lie
  • [雌豚]{めすぶた} / insult to a woman, bitch.

In addition, because there are such plethora of English insult words using animal names, some of them effectively became Japanese, as in チキン野郎 (a coward), 豚野郎, etc.

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Thanks! Don't know why I didn't think of 馬鹿. – istrasci May 27 '13 at 15:08
Added rubi as you suggest. – Kohsuke Kawaguchi May 29 '13 at 14:12

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