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EDICT-based dictionaries mark the word やじ馬 (野次馬) for "onlookers, street crowd, or rubbernecks" as sensitive.

I cannot find the word in the 放送禁止用語 lists and Wikipedia page also does not seem to mention any particular warnings on usage.

So my question is: is it really sensitive and to what degree?

Would it be offensive against someone who was a member of street gathering? Or would it generally be bad taste to use the word in a semi-official situation, just relating the story "there was an accident and huge crowd gathered"?

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It's not prohibited to use in public, though it's not necessarily an objective expression and has negative nuance because it means people who gather at incidents with casual curiosity. In that point, 人だかり etc. will be safer.

If you address a certain person as 野次馬, it'd sound offensive to him/her, but on the other hand, it's not particularly a problem to use it for the case of "there was an accident and huge crowd gathered".

  • I agree with user4092. Just read this sentence today in a book: 火事場付近は、野次馬でごった返していた。 – David Jablonski Sep 7 '15 at 12:20
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    Oh, and another similar word is 見物人, which seems less offensive than 野次馬. – David Jablonski Sep 7 '15 at 12:29
  • @Nothingatall 人だかり – snailboat Sep 7 '15 at 15:01

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