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Recently I encountered this phrase:


What is あれ in this context? Is the speaking making a positive or negative statement about ___?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I have also ran into this phrase and now I kind of understand its meaning though, getting used to applying it to the correct scenario is very tricky indeed. I still can't.

The instance of this phrase that I remember, is from when we were waiting for somebody to finish something:


To which ◯◯さん answered:


Which I guess could be translated into something along the lines of:

Hey, saying that you all are waiting for me, (...vagueness...) you know.

Where the vagueness could imply something like: "you're putting pressure on me", "is kind of, you know?".

EDIT: Added some hints of what the vagueness could mean. Thanks @deceze :)

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In which case the (vagueness) meant something like "I should hurry up?" or "you're putting pressure on me?". – deceze Jun 5 '11 at 5:51
Or does (vagueness) mean "That's not very nice"? – Amanda S Jun 5 '11 at 5:54
For what it's worth, this example is similar to the context where I found the phrase in the first place. – Amanda S Jun 5 '11 at 5:55
You got it right. This あれだ/あれな means something negative, without specifying the nature of negativity. – Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 5 '11 at 20:26
@Tsuyoshi Would you be willing to elaborate on that in an answer of your own? :) – Amanda S Jun 7 '11 at 4:43

It's one of those terrifically vague statements that doesn't mean much by itself. It can mean anything, depending on the context and how well the listener knows the speaker and what he's talking about. The speaker may be stalling while he's thinking about what he's trying to say. He may be talking about something that was mentioned before in the conversation. He may just be introducing a new topic, which he's going to expand upon from here. He may be hinting at something that he doesn't want to name but that the listener would understand.


  • "That's that thing, right? *wink wink nudge nudge*"
  • "Oh, that's that, isn't it? Whatchamacallit… uhm…"
  • "That's just like…"
  • "Oh, you mean that. :-/"

"Soccer" is this thing where you kick a ball with your feet, right?

Fooってあれだよね… えぇっと、何だっけ?
"Foo" is that thingamabob there, right? Uhm… what's it again exactly?

"Foo" is just like this "bar" thing, right?

Ah, I remembered!

It means just as much or as little as "that" does in English. :)

It means so little and comes so naturally to Japanese that it can be comical. When people (I know well) lapse into an 「あれだ…」, I sometimes jokingly reply 「あぁ、アレですか?なるほど、そうですよね。ふむふむ。」 to point out that they haven't actually said anything. ;-)

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+1 good answer to a very vague question – repecmps Jun 5 '11 at 4:26
I think 何だけ should be 何だっけ, btw. – flamingspinach Jun 5 '11 at 8:52
@flaming タイポーしてしもうた… ^_^ Thanks. – deceze Jun 5 '11 at 11:22

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