Apparently it means "bad/unlucky day", but several dictionaries I've consulted (both J->E and J->J) also say that it's also a Taoist term, as well as referring to a farmer's bad luck with weather. Is this a commonly used word at all? Or is it more specialized? Or none of the above?

  • 1
  • 4
    You already have a couple of good answers below so I'll say it here. Many Japanese avoid 厄日 in scheduling weddings, funerals and other important events. Most calendars printed in Japan even tell which days are unlucky, too. So the word is naturally a very common one . – l'électeur Oct 20 '17 at 7:09
  • I can hardly imagine a native speaker who doesn't understand the word 厄日. I think average Japanese people encounter 厄日 once a year or so. Obviously it's not a common word on newspapers, but if you like reading novels, you may see this word more often.
  • Today, 厄日 has very little to do with some specific religion, belief or tradition. It just means one's unlucky day that comes randomly. Its typical usage today is like this. This word is also used to half-jokingly comfort yourself or someone who encountered an unlucky event. "Don't worry, it was just your 厄日, you didn't deserve it." "Oh no, what the hell is this? Maybe it's my 厄日 today?" In this sense, I don't think this is an old-fashioned word.
  • 厄年 looks quite similar, but it's a fairly religious concept to me. A large shrine often has a signboard that tells your 厄年, and they offer some 厄払い services/goods.
  • You may probably say 仏滅/赤口 in 六曜 are also 厄日, but 厄日 is a more unspecific term. All the examples of 厄日 found on BCCWJ are clearly unrelated to the concept 六曜.

Yes it's a commonly used word (slang) for "unlucky day".

And yes, as you said, it originates from special term that means "day of ill omen (i.e. for activities)" in some schools of divination. This definition also survives today, but I can hardly imagine people use it in this sense except explicitly under such fields of topic.

  • Define "commonly used word" - as I mentioned in my answer it does not fall within any high frequency range in several Japanese corpora. Just because a word exists does not make it a common word - the question posed by the OP was "How common". – kandyman Oct 20 '17 at 8:45
  • 3
    @kandyman It’s hard to have a formal definition about commonness, but I meant that I can expect most adults understand both meanings and can interpret without misunderstanding when they hear it. “Wine opener” that has only nine occurrences in COCA is I think as common as this word. – broken laptop Oct 20 '17 at 9:59
  • Ok, adults will recognize the word. But in fairness, the OP did ask how common the word is. Since frequency lists are basically a reflection of how often a word occurs, I would argue that a word which is very low on a frequency list wouldn't be considered a common word. Perhaps the OP meant his question more as "would any native speaker know this word"? type of inquiry. – kandyman Oct 20 '17 at 12:52
  • BTW, "wine opener" is not a common word, as is shown by having only 9 occurrences. "corkscrew" is the common way to refer to that item, and it has 447 occurrences. – kandyman Oct 20 '17 at 12:52

「厄日」という言葉自体は、小さな子供でもなければ知っている言葉です。 しかし、古めかしい言葉ではあるので、誰もがよく使う言葉というわけでもありません。 主に中年以上の人が使いがちですが、若い人でもわざと年寄り臭くして使うこともあります。地域性とか社会階層にもよるので一概には言えませんが。


I can partially answer your question by saying that this word is not common at all.

I just searched several corpora for the term, and it doesn't show up in the top 20,000 most frequent words in newspapers, nor does it show up anywhere in the top 45,000 most frequent words used on the internet.

I don't know anything about the word, but I can tell you that it's seldom seen in commonplace language-usage situations.


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.