I'm stuck with this odd word

出身 alone means graduate but when i put it into this sentence どこの出身ですか what does it mean?

2 Answers 2


出身 can refer to your alma mater or to where you were born. It can mean the noun "graduate" as in "I am a graduate of Harvard." but not the verb "to graduate".

In your sentence どこの出身ですか is likely asking the 2nd, but could also be asking, "Which university are you a graduate of?"


新明解国語辞典 published by Sanseido defines “出身” as “①その土地で生まれ、②或はその学校を卒業したという経歴があること – where sb. is born, or what school he or she graduated from.”

We ask the birth place and the school he or she graduated from in the way as 彼(彼女)はどこの出身ですか? when we are referring to the “出身” of the third party.

But we don’t ask “貴方はどこの出身ですか?” bluntly to the other party you are talking with, because it’s very rude and sometimes embarrassing, when you ask what school the other party finished, if he or she is not a university graduate.

In case you are asking the other “どこの出身ですか?- where are you from, ie, what prefecture are you from?, there’s no such problem because it’s a “neutral question.”

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