What is the difference between these two terms for the word «mother»?

  • おかあさん
  • ははおや

Is there a difference in politeness/register in addressing someone, our some other form of difference between these two?

My dictionary also lists:

  • はは
  • かあさん
  • ははのみこと

as being in current usage.

Also, I cannot figure out why katakana, which is usually used for foreign words, would also be used for two forms of mother, as listed in my dictionary, as follows (please note, I couldn't get my input method on my Android keyboard to input the first of these in katakana as in the dictionary, perhaps someone can tell me how to do it).

  • おもに
  • ママン


mother in Japanese dictionary


  • 2
    Your dictionary app is using the edict dictionary as a source for its definitions, but is failing to display the 'archaic' and 'honorific' tags for ははのみこと and the source-language tag for オモニ。 I would strongly recommend getting a different application.
    – oals
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 9:41
  • 2
    Furthermore, a full-blown dictionary for a beginner such as you is probably more confusing than it is worth. You should stick to the dumbed-down dictionary that your textbook provides for the time being, so that you will learn the more common words first.
    – oals
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 9:44
  • 1
    (Also worth mentioning is that edict is a J-E dictionary. It fares poorly in the other direction.)
    – oals
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 9:45
  • 1
    I believe that ママン comes from French: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/maman#French
    – GoBusto
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 7:47
  • You are right, Takoboto is based on the JMDict project. It also seems to be the highest rated app on Google Play. However, please note that I do not consider myself a complete beginner as I know some Chinese, and as such, I have a strong interest in learning about orthography, spelling, and kanji. And about conjugations since I know a few European languages as well. Thanks. Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 7:47

4 Answers 4


I think the relationship between お母さん and 母親 is like that of mom and mother, in English.


お母さん (okaasan) is the polite form of "mother". You use it to address your own mother or when talking about the mothers of other people.

母親 or just 母 (haha) is the plain form of "mother". You use it to be humble when talking about your own mother to other people, or when politeness is not necessary.

  • This always confused me, I was taught the way you wrote it here, but in reality, living in Japan, my experience is that people tend to use お母さん in almost all situations, except when talking to complete strangers...
    – a20
    Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 12:17

The main difference is that you can't use はは to talk about someone else's mother. I think you must use お母さん in that case. Usually Japanese people call their mothers おかあさん when they talk to them directly. はは is used to talk about your mother to other people.


You can translate お母さん and 母親 to mother and mom.

I have never heard オモニ and 母の命... オモニ is Korean.
And I hardly use ママン. It would be better if you used お母さん, 母親, or ママ.

For example:

  • お母さんは[既]{すで}にお[婆]{ばあ}さんになった。 - My mother has become an old lady.
  • お母さんと[一緒]{いっしょ} - My mother and I together.
  • Interesting. In といっしょ(と一緒) must mean と=with+一緒=together, meaning together. But with and together must mean the same thing, so we have a repetition of the same word. Is my analysis correct? Does it happen often in Japanese to have two words together that mean the same thing to mean the same thing (like in Chinese two characters meaning the same thing mean that thing)? Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 7:33
  • Is there a spelling in your answer? Did you mean to write that ははのみこと (母のみこと) is Korean? Thanks. Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 7:37
  • 1
    @JackMaddington I probably think 母のみこと isn't korean. 母のみこと is wrong.
    – ra1ned
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 7:58
  • But ははのみこと is Korean, and can also be spelled はは命, correct? Not sure how a word from Korean made its way to being represented with a Kanji. Must be Ateji, correct? Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 9:34
  • Anyways, when I type hahaninikoto on my Swype keyboard, the keyboard also suggests 母のみこと。Not sure what that is, but it must be something. I doubt my keyboard's autosuggest feature is wrong. Thanks. Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 9:36

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