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?

  • 4
    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. 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.

  • +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.

  • 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. Aug 26 '11 at 15:07
  • 1
    @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. 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?


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.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.