The expression じゅわっと appears in the text of 佐賀のがばいばあちゃん in a scene where the protagonist, 昭広, steals some mandarins from somebody's backyard. He bites into one and that phrase pops up.

The full sentence is as follows:


p. 181, ch. 14

Maybe: "When I put it into my mouth, the sweet and sour juice burst into my mouth"?

I couldn't find a definition of じゅわっと in the dictionary which fits the sentence here. The dictionary says it has something that has to do with meat that is cooked to perfection, or something like that. However, I assume a mandarin is not meat. Perhaps it refers to the way the liquid bursts into your mouth with all the flavour. In context, it seems to suggest something strong and refreshing. He is very pleased with the flavour.

Please let me know the exact meaning of じゅわっと. Thanks.

  • 2
    In short, じゅわっ is considered an onomatopoeia that describes the "juicy" texture. Hm, common references including Wikipedia don't seem to have any explanation for this (Need to look for credible reference before posting this as an answer...).
    – user15816
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 13:48
  • Oops. I meant for fruit juice. The definition I found was for meat.
    – Robert
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 14:53
  • could you add a quote from the dictionary? Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:10
  • Yes, of course. I'll do it tomorrow. It's quite late here.
    – Robert
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:18

4 Answers 4


じゅわっ on オノマトペ辞典 has relevant definition for the onomatopoeia. The word can be used to describe juicy texture of food, and the sound of cooking food ingredients i.e. steak.

The following text have been quoted.


  1. 食べ物が、香りやうまさを感じさせながら、適度に焼けたり、とけたり、泡立つなどするときの力強い音。

  2. 一気に広がってゆくさま。

  3. 水分どが一気ににじみ出るさま。

For users who need to understand urgently, I have also included English translation for above text as following.

What is the meaning of "じゅわっ"?

  1. The vigorous sound of food that gives the feeling of good fragrance or taste while being moderately cooked (burned), melted, bubbled etc.

  2. The condition of being spreaded (being filled) all at once.

  3. The condition of [certain amount of] liquid (juice) that exude (seep out) all at once.

Therefore, when the protagonist bites into a mandarin, the word aptly describes the feeling of tasty juice from the fruit that contained in his mouth.


When [I] put inside [my] mouth, the sweet soury juice [from the fruit] seeps out all at once and spreads in [my mouth].

In fact, じゅわっと acts as an adverb (*1) that further describes how it spreads in the protagonist's mouth. Without the onomatopoeia, the sentence will only mention the fact that the juice spreads in the mouth (without any nuance when he bites into the fruit).

Doesn't じゅわっと sound satisfying, as if the reader also bites into the juicy fruit?


(*1) じゅわっと is the word that modifies the verb 広がる (spread). Notice that the word is made of じゅわっ + , which has the ~と form that may be used for other onomatopoeia as well.

  • 4
    "じゅわっと acts as an adjective" ← you mean "adverb", don't you?
    – naruto
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:45
  • 1
    @clear "じゅわっと is the adjective that modifies the verb 広がる" <- Do you mean it's the 連用形 form of a na-adjective? 「じゅわっ(と)」は副詞だと思うんですが…。例えば明鏡国語辞典だと、擬音語・擬態語の「さらさら」「しゅわしゅわ」「じわじわ」などは〘副ト〙・〘副ニ〙に分類されています。
    – chocolate
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 7:16
  • Revised accordingly. I must have confused with "sometimes na adjectives take a 〜と and Japanese sound symbolisms generally take a 〜と" as noted by this section of article on Wikipedia.
    – user15816
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 4:58

Many onomatopoeia words are not mentioned in dictionaries, invented by mangaka on the spot, or change their meaning depending on the context/era etc. If you read a lot of manga you will eventually figure out "the rules" but there are some articles describing the general principles on how these words are constructed that could save you some time. I could find this one from Tofugu which looks like a decent overview:


Check also the linked essay (PDF)

There is also a section in A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar which is pretty nice (but not available online).

As for the word in question, here's how it feels to me: じゅ is the liquid/juice spurting out of the fruit and わっと is it spreading inside the mouth (compare 'じわじわ' and もわもわ from Tofugu's page).

Some online onomatopoeia dictionaries:

  • 1
    When I first read it, it seemed to go with hirogaru and be related to the flavour spreading.
    – Robert
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:01

It's an onomatopoeia which denotes fine bubbling sounds.


「じゅわっと」 is the image of hamburg, juicy's so on, but 「しゅわっと」 is the image of a soda water.

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