My motivation behind this question is that I want to translate the Chinese word "学妹" into Japanese. 学妹, as you probably have guessed already, refers to a female 後輩. A male 先輩 is 学长,female 先輩 is 学姐,male 後輩 is 学弟. However, it seems impossible to be gender specific when using 先輩 or 後輩, since these word encompass both genders. So what is the appropriate, natural word for a female 後輩?

Edit: Sometimes, 学妹 can be used flirtatiously. That is, sometimes, you can be more flirtatious by calling the girl 学妹 instead of using her name or something. I cannot find the word that has this usage in Japanese, so that's a better explanation of my motivation.

  • Depending on the context, it might just be 後輩. You're expecting to need to care about the gender because you're coming from Chinese, but you might not need to at all.
    – Sjiveru
    Oct 21, 2018 at 6:49
  • I guess the asnwer to my question is most likely no. I did not make this clear in the original question, but in Chinese, "学妹“ is very frequently used in a flirtatious way. And this usage seems to be nonexistent in 後輩. So I guess thats why I care so much
    – Zeyuan
    Oct 21, 2018 at 6:55

3 Answers 3


I'm not aware of any single word for that concept. Normally you have to say 後輩の男の子, 先輩の女性, etc. If you're specifically interested in that "flirtatious" connotation, I've seen 妹/姉 used in a similar way at least in fiction, which should be rare in real life.


The simple answer is 'No'.

Sorry if that seems like a disappointing answer, but there just isn't a way to distinguish between male and female for the words 「後輩」and「先輩」.

If you want to address a female 後輩, it depends on your relationship with her. But simply using the standard ~さん after her name is perfectly natural. If you are on closer terms you might consider dropping the title (呼び捨て)and just using her name, but that really depends on the nature of your relationship with her.


In my impression, Japanese people around me call younger friends by nickname or 〜ちゃん, 〜さん, 〜くん. The difference of the way you call someone depends on the people’s relationship. As to sempai, we call them 〜先輩 or 〜さん, 〜くん.

  • thats pretty much taught in the first class, so not very helpful tbh
    – Zeyuan
    Oct 21, 2018 at 22:39

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