Upon seeing a particular enterprise software solution XYZ being mentioned, a passing-by IT engineer wrote this:


My dictionary only have food-related definitions for this word.

What could have he meant?

  • Which dictionaries? Monolingual? – Leebo Mar 15 '19 at 8:36
  • As this person is an IT engineer, he might be likely to use net-slang. Maybe he means dubious or suspicious. – BJCUAI Mar 15 '19 at 8:42
  • @Leebo: Japanese/English, actually. I just checked the monolingual kotobank.jp/word/%E9%A6%99%E3%81%B0%E3%81%97%E3%81%84-497139 it has more definitions but I don't think any matches. – Nicolas Raoul Mar 15 '19 at 8:45

「香{こう}ばしい」 used in the context you described must have been used for its internet slang meaning rather than for its "dictionary" meaning about food smelling fragrant, aromatic, etc.

The slang meanings are instead negative -- "shady", "cringe-worthy", "pitiful", etc.


Adding to @l'électeur's answer, one of the main usages of 香ばしい is to describe the fragrance of cooked food: toasty or roasty in English.

On top of this association, it comes to be used as an internet slang with a figurative sense of "smelling smoke"; that is, to jokingly suggest "I smell their brain burning", "it smells flaming-prone", or anything that has volatile dangers that can be felt.

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