I saw the term 小頭 and translated it from an online chat. Are the terms used differently? Both terms relate to a boss, an organizational leader of some sort. I am more familiar with the usage of 課長. Thank you.

  • Do you have the context? The word has three or more readings and I have no idea what it means in isolation. Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:05
  • The chat I was in involved work and the person used 小頭 as a job title. I am more familiar with 課長.
    – Jack Bosma
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:09
  • これのことでしょうね→kotobank.jp/word/小頭-498670 Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:15
  • 4
    Unless s/he is joking, it couldn't be a company job title and there's no comparison between it and "usual" job rank names. If read こがしら, it's already a very rare word that could've only survived in traditional organizations like village associations or yakuza clans or something... Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:17
  • 1
    I guess 課長{かちょう} should be used in a white collar job while 小頭{こがしら} used in blue collar job like firefighter. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


小頭(kogashira) is an archaic term denoting a leader of a smaller group who works under the supervision of 大頭(oogashira). It is no longer used.

I believe there are a lot of Japanese who do not know what the term 小頭 denotes because it is almost never used in contemporary Japanese.

I, born and educated in Japan, would be surprised if there were a person bearing a job title called 小頭 in present-day Japan.

On the other hand, the term 課長(kacho), often translated as section chief, is a frequently used term that is just fine for any situation.

I guess your chat counterpart is joking.


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