I learned from a Japanese friend that ふむふむ could be translated like "oh, I got it", "I see", "I know", or "ok". It could be also in this form: ふむふむ なるほど

But, my sister lived in Japan for 5 years, and she had never heard of it.

Is it still used?

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    It's not a word. It's a sound, and it's something like ‘hmmm’ in English (though not in meaning). – Zhen Lin Aug 26 '11 at 4:52
  • In other posts I have referred to such things as "vocal noises" but I bet there's an actual term for them too. – hippietrail Aug 27 '11 at 5:56
  • Yes, I have seen it recently actually, from coworker from Nagoya. – wallyqs Aug 27 '11 at 15:12

Friends and I quite often use "ふむ" (just once) in electronic communications in order to show acknowledgement, though with a very slight nuance of reluctance or thoughtful consideration.

Here's an example from a native Japanese speaker, after hearing about the context of a quiproquo:


Though it's not "I know", it's definitely "OK", "I see" or something like that.

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  • +1 for "quiproquo" – Matt Aug 27 '11 at 0:00

I use ふむ as well. Seldom ふむふむ. I think that's true for many people. I don't know how to put this well, but basically it sounds a bit.. um.. ridiculous maybe?
You see it often in manga.

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  • Do you use ふむ in speech? If so, how do you pronounce it? I am asking this because I find it hard to imagine that anyone says [ɸɯ↓mɯ], especially with the vowel in む. – Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 26 '11 at 15:07
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    @Ito Unless deliberate comic effect is intended, it's usually in the lines of "Hnn" or "Hmm". Enno: Just as how some people say そうかそうか (or そかそか) instead of just そうか, some people also repeat ふむ. – syockit Aug 26 '11 at 17:29
  • @Tsuyoshi: syockit nailed it. I guess ふむふむ sounds a bit ridiculous because of the strong む. – Enno Shioji Aug 28 '11 at 12:21

I think Sexy Commando says either "ふむふむ、なるなる..." or"なるふむなるふむ" while reading a newspaper in one episode. Obviously, this is a humorous use.

BTW, I have a great related oyaji gag: I put out my hand to see if it was raining. By chance, a bird flew overhead just then and dropped some poop, which fell into my hand. I looked at it and said ふーーん?

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A Japanese friend I started talking to two days ago (he's 27) uses ふむふむ with me when we write to each other. Sorry, I don't remember where in Japan he's from.

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