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I am in a Japanese 101 class. We are supposed to translate the following sentence:


I am having trouble with that word イケメン. So far, I have:

The Japanese culture professor is ______ but he/she is not lenient at all so I don't like him/her very much

I am pretty sure we haven't had イケメン in class. Also, "ikemen" doesn't sound like an English borrowed word (at least to me).

Google translates it as "Twink" and I have found some places that say "handsome", "cool", etc. But I don't know what to trust. Can anyone explain to me the meaning(s) of the word?

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Re: "But I don't know what to trust", surely you can trust a dictionary? Here's イケメン's entry on Progressive. – 3 to 5 business days Oct 10 '14 at 13:30
up vote 16 down vote accepted

イケメン is a new word which means "Good looking male person".

イケ comes from イケてる which roughly translates to "cool", "good" etc. メン is a word play, and has two meanings; メン as in "men" i.e. the English word for men, and メン as in 面(めん) i.e. the Japanese word for "face".

It is used exclusively to refer to the physical attractiveness of males.

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+1 Thanks for the help! :) – Rachel G. Dec 2 '12 at 2:59

It's not a loan word, it means "good looking". This illustrates a common problem with basic Japanese teaching, they tell you that words written in katakana are loanwords, but don't go into all the other uses of katakana (though loanwords is the most common and 7 times out of 10 that is the case).

Specifically in this case, certain colloquial words whose kanji is sufficiently outdated use katakana.

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+1 Thanks for the info. Enno answered first though so I marked theirs as the answer. – Rachel G. Dec 2 '12 at 3:01
@RachelG. Yea, that's totally fair. he answered halfway through my typing this answer :P – Ataraxia Dec 2 '12 at 3:03

As the others have said, イケメン is basically a word that describes a male as being attractive/good-looking. Don't use this for females.

As sort of a supplement, I've also seen the word イケてる been used, which can function as a verb too. This was in a book though, I've never heard a native Japanese use this in normal conversation, but it may help you get a feel for the usage of イケ.

I think this plot is quite 'cool'.


Ah, hadn't seen Enno's anwer describing イケてる yet. Guess you got the question covered now ;)

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re:"このプロットをイケてると思う。 I think this plot is 'cool'."-- I believe your japanese sentence is not grammatical. Perhaps このプロットはイケてるだと思います。would be better. – yadokari Dec 2 '12 at 6:16
I got this sentence from a native Japanese book (from a library, don't have the exact title here), which would make it a bit unlikely that it's incorrect. Though, don't get me wrong, I'm not fluent in Japanese by all means, (or perhaps I made a mistake in copying). The original sentence (stripped it down for the example): 僕はこのプロットを結構イケてると思うんです。 だ seems unnecessary, イケてる can function as a verb (jisho.org), the use of the を particle seems slightly off to me too. If any more advanced users would like to comment on this, I'd be glad to edit :) – Stijn Frishert Dec 2 '12 at 12:09
yes I too am mainly wondering about the を. I don't see how that works there. you should ask that as a question or I will if you do not. – yadokari Dec 2 '12 at 19:53
Took a bit longer than expected, but nonetheless: I miscopied the sentence indeed, originally it had no particle. Adjusted the post. – Stijn Frishert Dec 12 '12 at 7:47
thanks for following up – yadokari Dec 12 '12 at 19:21

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