If a Japanese person calls you older brother/sister(お兄さん, お姉さん), in addition to implying closeness, does it also mean that they are implying a platonic relationship?

  • I don't think I understand what you are after. In (Protestant) churches, people address between themselves as 兄/兄弟達 = "brother/brethren" and 姉/姉妹達 = "sister/systren," but I doubt it is what you are looking for.
    – eltonjohn
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 10:45

1 Answer 1


By "older brother", I assume you mean お兄さん.

By "older sister, I assume you mean お姉さん.

If so, then this is one type of way of referring to men/boys and women/girls who are not so old as to merit おじさん おじいさん おばさん おばあさん.

I was a bit surprised at this mode of reference the first time someone did it to me, but it's pretty common.

It does not necessarily imply anything at all about closeness. First person to call me お兄さん that I an remember was a plumber working on my apartment. I hope his intentions were platonic, but I don't know if using this marks off one's intentions in that way.

If you mean putting 兄 or 弟 after someone's name, then I've only seen that in churches. (there may be other contexts).

  • I added the Japanese translations. So does it just a way of referring people who are somewhat older, or is it also imply being in a platonic relationship with them?
    – Wise
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 11:51
  • 4
    Outside of your family, you DO NOT have to be older to be addressed as お兄さん/お姉さん by others.
    – user4032
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 11:54
  • @l'électeur Thanks! I learn so much by trying to answer. (better now?)
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 12:05
  • @Wise I don't think is like being told "I'm so glad to have you as a friend" by someone who you like, but I cannot speak to the inner psychology of others.
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 12:06

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