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How do you say "to pick up girls" in Japanese? I would like to say: I'm going to go and pick up some girls! I tried: 女を持ちに行くぞ! But I don't think 持つ is the right verb to use here

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You're right about 女を持ちに行くぞ! -- that sounds horribly odd, and it quite made me smile. :) It sounds like a troll going out to literally grab some women and come home, perhaps to throw them in the stewpot.

The word

When it comes to picking up girls in a less literal and more figurative sense :), the word I learned years ago living in Japan was ナンパする. Now that I'm researching the term, the etymology seems quite interesting too.

The origins

From what I can glean out of Shogakukan's 国語{こくご}大辞典{だいじてん} and Sanseido's 大辞林{だいじりん}, the kanji spelling is 軟派{なんぱ}, literally "soft group, softliner". This is (was?) an antonym for 硬派{こうは} or "hard group, hardliner", which apparently referred to young men who viewed finer clothes and interacting with women as effeminate and weak. In contrast, the "softliners" were young men who enjoyed the company of women and liked dressing well. Over time, 軟派{なんぱ} seems to have shifted from being used primarily as a noun as "this kind of young men" to more of a verb use as "to be sweet on women" and then to "to seek out members of the opposite sex for purposes of having fun" (loose translation of the Daijirin definition for sense 5 shown here).

I have noted that women may also use the term in modern usage, so it may be more of a general "to pick someone up". (That said, I may be mis-remembering, or accurately remembering dialectal usage.) There is also 逆{ぎゃく}ナンパ, which does seem to be restricted to meaning a woman picking up a man.

The spelling

I've heard this term used in speech much more than I've seen it in writing, but my general sense is that this word is now more commonly spelled in kana than in kanji.

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    Trivia: there is also 逆ナンパ, used exclusively for women picking up men. – kuchitsu Oct 21 '16 at 22:06
  • @kuchitsu, thank you! I'd forgotten about that one. I'll edit momentarily. – Eiríkr Útlendi Oct 21 '16 at 22:16
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「ひっかける」

http://renso-ruigo.com/word/%E5%A5%B3%E3%82%92%E5%BC%95%E3%81%A3%E6%8E%9B%E3%81%91%E3%82%8B のキャッシュです。

女を引っ掛けるの類語、関連語、連想される言葉

 ・ 路上で女を調達する ・ 言い寄る ・ ボーイハント ・ ガールハント ・ 逆ナンする ・ 口説く ・ 女漁り ・ 軟派する

「ガールハント」

zokugo-dict.com › カで始まる俗語一覧

ガールハントとは"girl(少女の意)"と"hunt(狩るの意)"の合成語で、男性が遊び目的の女性に声をかけ、ひっかけることをいう。ただし、ガールハントは和製英語であり、"girlhunt"といった英単語はない。1950年代から普及したガールハントだが、1970年代末辺り ...

  • It would be worth adding that ガールハント is 死語, obsolete now. – Chocolate Oct 25 '16 at 15:29
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“女を持ちに行く” doesn’t make sense in Japanese at all. ”女を引っかける” is commonly used for “tempt / make advance to a woman.” “(女を)ひっかける” is a colloquial version for “誘惑する.”

“ナンパする” is also used in the same meaning of “引っかける,” especially among yougergeneration. It derived from “軟派” which is defined as ⑤遊びを目的に異性に交際を求めること。[例]かわいい子をナンパする – to approach the other sex just for sexual pleasure. Example: hit on a cute girl. “

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