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I know that おやすみなさい means "good night" in Japanese and it can be shortened to おやすみ. What is the difference between the two?

In English there are other phrases such as "sweet dreams" that can be used with a similar meaning. So are there any other common ways of saying "good night" in Japanese?

Background. I would like to get a tattoo that says goodnight because I have insomnia, and I want to get a tattoo that says goodnight in Japanese. I'm not really knowledgeable when it comes to Japanese but I would love to learn it in the future and this might be my gateway into learning Japanese more.

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    We do not handle translation requests (tattoo-related or otherwise), so I tried to turn your question into a language question. – Earthliŋ Jul 28 at 7:04
  • Oh okay, first posting here so yeah. Thanksss – ZeroTwo Jul 29 at 2:42
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Just to be clear, both おやすみなさい and おやすみ are usually said to other people when wishing them good night. That's just something to be aware of. I'm not sure how that fits in with your concept for the tattoo. If you're ok with that, then it's not an issue. But I think you should do some research and hear as many opinions about it as possible before going with it.

If you are deciding only between おやすみ and おやすみなさい, then I think おやすみ is better because おやすみなさい is somewhat formal. Also, おやすみ is shorter and has more impact, in my opinion.

As another option, how about just the kanji 夢 (yume) as an option? It means 'dreams'. It is a kanji character, which people often think looks kinda cool. It would look something like this:

enter image description here

It has the added benefit of the figurative meaning of 'dream' too, like you have a dream that someday you will be cured.

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  • But please use a font that tattoo artists can easily replicate. The font that kandyman used is beautiful in itself, but it seems difficult to replicate. – rebuuilt Jul 27 at 22:52
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    @rebuuilt: That depends on how good the artist is. – istrasci Jul 27 at 23:13
  • I agree "yume" would be better. How about 甘い夢 (sweet dreams)? It's dripping with cuteness, though. – user3169 Jul 28 at 4:39
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    @user3169 I've seen conflicting meanings while searching around, but I get the general impression that 甘い夢 would not have the same meaning as imagined in the English "sweet dreams." – Leebo Jul 28 at 7:14
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    @Leebo I see. Not exactly something you want in a tattoo though. Not me anyway :) – kandyman Jul 28 at 11:42
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おやすみなさい
oyasuminasai

is more or less an all-purpose way of saying "good night" that is formal enough to be used with acquaintances you do not know well, but may well be used with friends or family. Literally it translates to "get some rest", the 〜なさい ending being a kind of imperative and お being an "honorific".

This phrase is often shortened to

おやすみ
oyasumi

which is probably the most common form used among friends and family.

良い夢を
yoi yume o / ii yume o

is a phrase that can be taken to correspond to "sweet dreams" which can be used in combination with おやすみ(なさい). (良い can be read either よい yoi or いい ii.)

Other variations, like "sleep tight" are sometimes translated as ぐっすりおやすみなさい, but I don't think they are actually used in real life.

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  • Honestly, my main concern is... First, I just don't want to offend Japanese people that I encounter with upon reading my tattoo, second is I don't want to be made fun off with because of a wrong tattoo, because you know it's a tattoo, when it's there, it's definitely there. And the third one is I just want it to be read as goodnight, wherein the first time they read it they'll say something along the line "oh, your tattoo saids goodnight. So what does it mean? Why goodnight?" And so on and so for. You know what I mean. Anyway thanks for the response, wasn't even expecting a response tbh. – ZeroTwo Jul 29 at 3:01
  • So you think "おやすみ" is the safest bet? Don't worry I'll still do my research up until I'm sure enough to get the tattoo :) – ZeroTwo Jul 29 at 3:03
  • I saw this other two, do you consider them as usable or right translation for goodnight? グッドナイト, ぐない – ZeroTwo Jul 29 at 3:13
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    おやすみ has only one meaning and language-wise is a "safe bet". I would be extremely worried about the tattoo artist writing in a strange font, or leaving off parts of the characters (which happens all too often) etc. which are all reasons for people to make fun of you. Personally, I don't think getting a tattoo in a language you don't know is very wise, exactly because you can't tell if it looks funny / is wrong / etc. – Earthliŋ Jul 29 at 8:49
  • And once you know Japanese, you might not necessarily want to be mistaken for one of the many people with sort of embarrassing Japanese tattoos... – Earthliŋ Jul 29 at 8:56

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