I observed in drama and anime (being outside Japan, those are my only ways of keeping in touch with spoken 日本語) that elder people sometimes say お出で to younger people when they want to say something like "Come here". But there are a few things I think are strange with that word/phrase:

  1. The word seems to originate from お出でになる which is お + verb stem + になる humble form, which from the kanji used means that お出でになる is the humble form of 出る, I think. So, does that mean that if a person says お出で to another person, the first person is using a humble form upon the second person, which seems to be rude? Is the humbleness nuance within お出でになる still retained in お出で?

  2. Since the pronunciation of お出で is お - い - で, does that mean the 出 kanji is pronounced as い? Why isn't the お + verb stem + になる of 出る simply お出になる? Is this another ateji?

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    It's okay to watch drama and anime because you like them, not because you have to to practice :) I watch them for both reasons!! >^.^< Commented Jan 14, 2012 at 5:49

3 Answers 3


Boaz already gave a nice explanation of the meaning of おいで. Here is why おいで is written as お出で in kanji (although in many cases it is written in hiragana).

In Classical Japanese, there is a verb [出]{い}づ which means to go outside of some place or to appear. The conjugation type of this verb is 下二段活用, and it would have become [出]{い}でる in the modern Japanese if it had followed the regular pattern, in the same way as [投]{な}ぐ became [投]{な}げる. お[出]{い}で is the [連用形]{れんようけい} form of 出でる with the prefix お, and therefore written as it is.

Therefore, 出でる and お出で just follow the usual pattern, and the irregularity lies in the verb [出]{で}る! Somehow the い at the beginning of いでる was dropped in the modern Japanese, and the verb became でる except in certain constructs such as お出で. We write でる as 出る because a kanji must replace at least one kana.

The [命令形]{めいれいけい} (command form) of 出づ in Classical Japanese (and of the hypothetical 出でる in Modern Japanese) is 出でよ, and it is sometimes seen in a slogan or a fictional work, where archaic form (associated with dignity) is needed. I remember that it was used in an anime Dragon Ball: a character says “[出]{い}でよ、[神龍]{シェンロン}!” to invoke Shenlong (who grants a wish in this anime).

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    Adding to this, if you ever see 出 in a Japanese person's last name, there's a good chance it's pronunciation is イ・イズ・イヅ. Like my friend 出川 (Izukawa -- don't know if it's ず or づ though).
    – istrasci
    Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 15:14
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    So お出で came from いでる rather than でる. I didn't know such a verb existed.
    – Lukman
    Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 15:25

I think this shouldn't count as a humble form, but rather as a patronizing form - which is still quite respectful to the recipient, but it's only that usually implies that the speaker is in superior position than the recipient of this form.

There are several forms of patronizing requests, and I'm not entirely sure about the nuances of each and when exactly they can be used in non-patronizing contexts (as they do sometimes), but my impression is that all commands and requests that are based on 連用形 (renyōkei) forms with なさい or without anything at the end tend to have a patronizing element to them, even though it's not apparent in all contexts.

These forms include (the verb 行く will be used for example):

  • お行きなさい! (o + renyōkei + nasai)
  • お行き! (o + renyōkei)
  • 行きなさい! (renyōkei + nasai)

The following are not patronizing requests:

  • お行きください!
  • 行きください!

As for お出で, this is a slightly more complicated case, since it doesn't really come from a verb. From the perspective of the modern language, you can say it comes from the verb 出でる, but you'll rarely find such a verb used alone (without the prefix お) and I don't think there was any such verb in Classical Japanese. Some dictionaries list the verb お出でる (including the prefix), but they explicitly say it's derived from the noun/adverb お出で.

My guess is that it comes from the Classical Japanese particle いで (which was used from invitation) or maybe from adding to the verb 居る (いる) the particle で (or even the renyōkei of the verb 出る which is also で). Either way, お出で was first formed as a keigo noun which means "being somewhere" or "coming or going". It then got used in compounds as if it was a renyōkei form of a verb (since renyōkei forms are themselves, in fact, nouns). Update: Read Tsuyoshi Ito's post - お出でる is probably derived from the classical verb 出づ.

I'd say that's the case here with お出で being used as a patronizing form. But I don't think any おいで coming alone would sound patronizing, and お出でください is obviously not patronizing but plainly respectful.

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    In Classical Japanese, 出づ (いづ) means to go outside (of something) or to appear, which would have become 出でる (いでる) in the modern Japanese according to the usual pattern, but instead became 出る (でる) by dropping い at the beginning in most cases. But the 命令形 form 出でよ is sometimes used in the modern language. Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 12:07
  • @Tsuyoshi: Interesting. The dictionary lists お出で as a noun, but then it's probably derived of the classical Japanese shimo-nidan 出づ, which means it's the 連用形 of that verb. Which means it's got reinterpreted as a noun (since いで changed to で and there was no relation between them anymore) and then (nowadays) again as verb. Strange.
    – Boaz Yaniv
    Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 13:50
  • Probably お出で in some cases (such as ○○様のお出でだ) is better explained as a noun than a verb. But certain cases such as おいでなさい are better explained by considering 出でる as a verb which is not used except in special contexts. So I am surprised to know that dictionaries do not list 出でる as a verb. Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 14:36
  • @Tsuyosi: some dictionaries list お出でる as a verb deriving from the noun お出で. I don't know why they don't present the explanation of it deriving directly from 出づ.
    – Boaz Yaniv
    Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 18:07
  • @BoazYaniv I don't think 行きください without the お exists, it sounds very strange.
    – dainichi
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 8:27

I think it should be made clear, since nobody else did, that お出でになる is considered a 尊敬語 (respectful) of 来る, (not 出る), and the connection with 出る is mostly etymological.

Other 尊敬語 for 来る are お見えになる,いらっしゃる and お越しになる, although they might have slightly different nuances.

  1. お出でになる is respectful, so using it for the addressee is not patronizing. It is the removal of the -になる or -下さい which makes it slightly patronizing. Similar constructs are ごらん(see) and ごめん(excuse me), which are respectful, but slightly patronizing (or at least colloquial) versions of ごらん下さい and ごめん下さい

  2. お出になる means something else, namely "exit", not "come". Incidentally, it seems that 出る is the only one-mora-stem verb which allows the お~になる construct.

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