At the store the other day, a toddler walked by and called me おじさん. I know this is a generic "mister" for children toward middle-aged adults. I'm wondering if there's an equivalent generic word for adults toward children?


There are several generic word for children, and we can call toddlers like:

ぼく (Only for boys, popular)

わたし (Not only but especially for girls)


ぼくはどこからきたの? (Where did you come from?)

ぼく/わたしのおなまえは? (What's your name?)

Additionally, for schoolchildren (older than toddlers), we can call them [君]{きみ}. Usage of is really wide. With , you can call persons younger than you.


[君]{きみ}はどこから[来]{き}たの? (Where did you come from?)


Robert's question

Q. ぼく would sound as if I was referring to myself.

Why Japanese people call toddler boy ぼく is that, the usage of original , a FIRST person pronoun, had been varied in long Japanese history.

Some SECOND person pronouns are imported from first person pronouns. Examples are: お[前]{まえ}, [手前]{てまえ} (てめえ). Case of ぼく can also be applied to this, but this is a special case anyway. You can say ぼく only for toddler boys.

Some additional suggestion

As you can read in comments, お[兄]{にい}ちゃん and お[姉]{ねえ}ちゃん can be used in some case but it can't be used for toddlers. [坊]{ぼう}や is more suitable for this toddler case. [坊主]{ぼうず} sounds funny and can also be used but it sounds rough.

See also

Wikipedia - 日本語の一人称代名詞

Wikipedia - 日本語の二人称代名詞

  • If I wanted to reply to the girl who called me おじさん, I wouldn't call her わたし though. That would sound as if I was referring to myself. Correct? With 君, is it used by itself or with さん as in 君さん? – Robert Jun 8 '15 at 5:28
  • You wouldn't say 君さん. And on more than one occasion I have seen younger kids being referred to as 僕 or 私 purely because (I assume) that at that age they have learnt the words for "I"/"Me" and assume that said "I" / "Me" referrers to them. It isn't always that 私 or 僕 refer to oneself. In personal experience when I have said a statement with 僕, I have been queried with the same 僕. ‘A:僕は日本で仕事しています。 `僕の職業は? Albeit I am at a stretch to ever use it myself, it doesn't seems like it can be used the way @Takumi describes. – The Wandering Coder Jun 8 '15 at 6:36
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    What about お姉ちゃん and お兄ちゃん? – ssb Jun 8 '15 at 7:10
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    What about 坊主 (ぼうず) I heard plenty in animes, can't be bad (笑) – Urukann Jun 8 '15 at 9:13
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    @ Urakann 坊主 is usually a derogative term. @ dinogeist 坊や seems to literally translate to boy, which may not be the most polite way to address someone, even if they are a child. However as this was the one I found had the most use patterns I would go with this one (for toddlers). @ Avery Morrow You would never address a small boy as 少年. That would be a collective term for small boys (as with small girls, you would not address as 少女) . – The Wandering Coder Jun 9 '15 at 0:19

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