What's the Japanese word for "tangy"? It's a bit hard to define the word, but it's something that has a sharp flavour, and it's not necessarily a pejorative (saying that something's bad). For example, I might say that airag, or maybe some slightly fermented yoghurt is tangy.

Neither jisho.org nor wiktionary has a translation.

I came across


on weblio, but the second part seems to be a definition, not a translation, saying strong smell, and the first part "ぴりっと" doesn't seem to be an exact match.

  • 1
    I'm not sure if my tangy is your tangy. Maybe select some food as examples?
    – Flaw
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 10:51
  • @Flaw don't know how useful my example will be. :)
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 11:08
  • I'm thinking sour + astringent + mildly sweet?
    – Flaw
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 11:16
  • @Flaw sounds about right.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 11:23
  • 1
    I wonder if 甘酸っぱい can be used for yoghurt.
    – Flaw
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 11:40

2 Answers 2


I think ピリッとする is pretty good as a translation.

  • 酸っぱい
    Is often translated as "sour", but is often used by native speakers for tangy/zingy taste, like sweet apple juice that has a certain zing to it. (Of course, sweet and sour aren't mutually exclusive, so I think the Japanese rightfully identify a certain acidity. Nevertheless, in this situation 酸っぱい shouldn't necessarily be translated to "sour" and conversely 酸っぱい might be used as "tangy" in certain situations.)

  • ピリッとする
    This often describes a certain tingly sensation in the tongue, like from spicy food or fermented food (carbonic acid).

  • ツンとする
    Similar to ピリッとする, but more like the spiciness of mustard or wasabi that is felt in the nose.

For the "strong smell" sense of "tangy" there is also

  • 香りが強い Meaning "strong smell". May be used for foods/drinks that are especially aromatic. Although it might look clumsy ("like a definition"), it's in fact frequently used.
  • ヨーグルトは「酸味があって、ちょっとピリッとする」では?
    – sazarando
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 3:05

if you want to say that is tastes good but is tangy or sour go with 渋い (shibui). This word has a meaning similar to tart or zesty. It is listed in jisho.org. タルトor タート can also be used to convey the same meaning.

  • 2
    渋い is a good word. (I don't associate it to tangy, more like the way an unripe/green banana tastes.) However, I think タルト (or タート) cannot be used to convey the same meaning. As far as I know, these words don't mean "tart/zesty" in Japanese, but rather have their origin in French tarte or Dutch taart, meaning a kind of pie and wouldn't be understood as a transliteration of the English word "tart".
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 12:39

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