Dainichi was kind enough to tell me that よくいうよ means "to shamelessly say something you should be ashamed to say."

On spacealc, this explanation and translation is provided:

よく言うよ。 What are you saying?


What meaning does this particular よく provide, and which kanji, if any, does this particular よく derive from? (I am interested in the literal meaning of this よく from which the figurative meaning derives i.e., does it mean "talk well," "talk brazenly," etc)


2 Answers 2


goo, よく【善く/良く/▽好く/▽能く/▽克く】

4 困難なことをしたり、考えられないような喜ばしい結果を得たりして感じ入るさま。本当にまあ。よくぞ。「―来てくれました」「月給だけで―やっていけるね」

4 Being impressed by someone doing something difficult or achieving a miraculous result. (alternates). (examples)

5 相手の非常識な言動などを非難するさま。4を反語的にいう語。よくもまあ。「―のこのこと来られたものだ」

5 Reproaching a person's absurd words/deeds (and the like). Language expressing 4 ironically. (alternate). (example)

Those are your kanji, at the top; 5 is your meaning; and 4 is what it derives from (according to goo). (I don't know that 5 is "figurative" per se; I think it's just sarcastic.)

  • I am posting my translations just so I remember them on this page: 4 Being impressed by someone doing something arduous and getting unimaginably delightful/gratifying results. 5 Rebuking someone for doing something ridiculous or senseless. A word using the meaning of 4 ironically.
    – yadokari
    May 30, 2012 at 2:10
  • @yadokari no worries :P Adding my 2 cents: "4. Being impressed by something which takes difficulty or being impressed by the achievement of an unthinkably [delightful/joyous/happy] outcome 5. Criticizing the other person's behavior which lacks common sense etc."
    – cypher
    May 30, 2012 at 2:57
  • @yadokari (or should that be an "and" rather than an "or"? I'm not sure ><)
    – cypher
    May 30, 2012 at 6:19

I remember this as the kind of thing a bar hostess would laughingly say to a patron who just made a joke. With the right intonation and context these "I'm impressed/appalled" phrases can be jovial and light-hearted (and obviously dangerous for us to use).

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