I am still a beginner at japanese and I have the strong feeling my title is incorrectly translated so here it is again in english:

What is the "feeling" a japanese person gets upon hearing the word 面白い.

To clarify: omoshiroi was one of the first japanese words I learned, and back then I was told it means "funny". Later "interesting" appended the list, and I never really understood the core of that word.

Lets say I want to express: "I think japanese is a very interesting language."

And I translate it to: 日本語が面白いと思います。

To me, the english word "interesting" feels very "serious", but the translations for 面白い don't suggest that very much. Jisho.org translates it to "interesting/amusing".

So, in that example sentence, did I rather say "I think japanese is interesting" ( in all seriousness ) or "I think japanese is a tad funny" ? If its the latter, which word is used to express "interesting" in all seriousness ?

2 Answers 2


When I hear:

「面白い冗談・ジョーク」 「面白いことを言う」

I would normally think the 面白い is used as "funny", "comical", "makes you laugh", or maybe "queer", etc.

When I hear:


I would normally think the 面白い is used as "interesting", "exciting", "fun", "enjoyable", "rewarding / worthwhile", "you like it", etc.

So I would say:


to mean "I think the Japanese language is interesting." I wouldn't think you meant "I think the Japanese language is funny" if I heard you say this.

If I heard you say:


I would think you meant "Japanese culture is interesting/intriguing". But if I heard you say:


I might think you probably meant "Japanese people are funny." (or maybe "Japanese people are interesting/fun." depending on the context.)


What is the "feeling" a Japanese person gets upon hearing the word 面白い -> 日本人が「面白い」という言葉を聞いて得る"感覚"は何ですか?

I think Japanese is a very interesting language. -> 日本語 が/は 興{きょう}味{み}深{ぶか}い言語であると私は 思います/考えます。

FYI, Oxford English Dictionary says "interesting = arousing curiosity or interest; holding or catching the attention."

* added *

面白い can mean "interesting", but my impression is that it primarily means something is "funny."

  • 4
    What is the reason for downvote ?
    – Slyps
    Jul 12, 2015 at 16:19
  • @Slyps: <What is the reason for downvote ?> I really would like to know, too.
    – eltonjohn
    Jul 13, 2015 at 2:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .