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Doesn't 趣味悪い{しゅみわるい} basically means "to have a bad sense of style / taste;". It is slang, and it sounds funny to say to a guy. It sounds playful, but could be taken as impolite if the listener wants to.

  • If a friend has a poorly matched suit / shirt / tie, then you can describe how he looks as "趣味悪い".
  • To be funny, you can always say that his selection of his girlfriend proves he is "趣味悪い".
  • If a Japanese friend were to order deep-fried cheese sticks from McDonalds (a pretty vile food in my book), I'd say he is "趣味悪い" just to be funny.
  • It'd probably be awkward to say to a girl.

Where am I wrong on my interpretation of "趣味悪い"?

  • Why you call it slang, I am not sure. – l'électeur Jan 19 '16 at 23:33
  • @l'électeur I don't know how I formed my opinion about "趣味悪い", but I sense it as edgy, borderline offensive. That alone hints slang. Since "趣味" is "hobby" and "悪い" to "bad", so I think "bad hobby". That sounds like English slang. – david Jan 20 '16 at 3:50
  • @l'électeur I think everyone will have a good laugh if I can use "趣味悪い" correctly. But, since I think it can be offensive, I'd be playing with fire. So, I need to clear-up my understanding. – david Jan 20 '16 at 3:55
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I'm pretty sure someone else can provide a more definitive answer, but here's what I know.

  • If you want to use an adjective, like you are in your examples, you would use 悪趣味{あくしゅみ}.
  • I wouldn't use it to describe someone's tastes in foods. That sounds like "You have a bad sense of food," and it a bit awkward. It'd use 悪食{あくじき} or ゲテモノ好{す}き, both meaning "someone who likes bizarre/gross food".
  • It's perfectly fine to use with women. Just be careful who you use it with.
  • It's not slang, though 「趣味悪い」 is a bit colloquial. 「趣味が悪い」 would be the proper way of saying it.
  • You are right that it can be taking as impolite. However, it does not necessarily have to sound playful. You can use it in disgust if you wanted to. I would be careful using it, as people can take it as mocking.

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