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
    Nov 16 '16 at 10:51
  • @Flaw don't know how useful my example will be. :) Nov 16 '16 at 11:08
  • I'm thinking sour + astringent + mildly sweet?
    – Flaw
    Nov 16 '16 at 11:16
  • @Flaw sounds about right. Nov 16 '16 at 11:23
  • 1
    I wonder if 甘酸っぱい can be used for yoghurt.
    – Flaw
    Nov 16 '16 at 11:40

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
    Nov 17 '16 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
    Nov 17 '16 at 12:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.