I assumed with my very limited knowledge it would be シェリフ, however when I put it into a sentence with Google Translate, シェリフ instead was represented as 保安官, and pronounced ホアンカン rather than シェリフ. So now I want to confirm what the proper way to say/write "Sheriff" is. I think perhaps Google Translate pronouncing it ホアンカン could simply be it misreading Kanji, and I do not know enough about Kanji to be sure so I want to ask...

What is the proper way to pronounce/write "Sheriff" and would it change depending on if I'm using it in a sentence, or other specific context?

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    It may help if you define what the function of a Sheriff is. There may be no direct equivalent. As a UK native when someone says sherriff I think of Robin Hood. I'm guessing you're referring to some sort of US police officer but I don't know what nuances that suggests to a US native. May 21, 2020 at 16:58
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    Context is king. The English term sheriff has many meanings. What meaning are you trying to translate, and in what context? Also, Google Translate is *terrible* at translating single words. Never use Google Translate as an authoritative source. May 21, 2020 at 17:31
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi Absolutely! The meaning I am trying to translate is the title of sheriff in an "old west" setting. The context is I have a character who is a sheriff, and will simply be referred to as Sheriff throughout the story.
    – Mack
    May 21, 2020 at 18:15
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    @user3856370 Oh interesting! Actually the context goes further back than it's modern meaning, I actually forgot here in the US we still have modern day "sheriff" police officers, haha. I'm referring to like an old west cowboy sheriff, I have a character in an old west setting who is a sheriff and will simply be referred to as "Sheriff".
    – Mack
    May 21, 2020 at 18:17
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    To be pedantic, in the USA, the title of "sheriff" is strictly determined by jurisdiction. A sheriff's jurisdiction is to enforce laws passed by "county" legislatures. The USA is divided into States. And a State is divided into "counties" (except Louisiana where "counties" are called "parishes" for historical reasons). In summary, Japan doesn't have legal jurisdictions at a "county" or "parish" level, so no "sheriff".
    – rppkgai
    May 21, 2020 at 18:25

2 Answers 2


Oh, Google Translate does something especially weird and confusing in this case...

enter image description here

(And the voice synthesizer says "Jon Hoankan"! I wonder how they programmed this...)

If your character is like this or this, their title is translated as 保安官, which is a kanji word pronounced ほあんかん or "hoankan". ほあんかん is the correct pronunciation, and that sherifu on the right of the picture is purely wrong. (I know nothing about the legal details, but 保安官 is a recurring title in fiction of the "wild west" settings.)

You can transliterate "sheriff" as シェリフ in katakana, but ordinary Japanese people do not understand its meaning at all.


I'm really a beginner on japanese, but maybe this can be helpful:

Searching at Jisho (an amazing dictionary, if you don't know it yet) for "sheriff", I found the same kanji that you got on Google Translate, with the same pronunciation (ほあんかん). Also, searching for this kanji on Google images, I found these two images:

enter image description here enter image description here

It is from a manga called 保安官エヴァンスの嘘 or The Lies of Sheriff Evans. So, ほあんかん seems to really shows the meaning that you want.

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