I recently heard my colleagues use ざっくり which I haven't heard before. When I look it up in dictionary it translates to 'roughly; approximately; loosely' or 'deeply (cut or split)' - very different meanings.

Could anyone kindly explain in what situations people usually use it and which meaning is the most common?

  • 2
    Welcome to Japanese SE. You are essentially asking for the definition and examples of a word that can be looked up in a dictionary. This is not how questions should be asked on SE. You should give some context and tell us what you would like to know that a dictionary has failed to tell you.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 0:55
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    As I mentioned in my question, the dictionary failed me because it was giving two very different meanings without context for the same word and I came here to understand the difference in detail. naruto provided me me with exactly the answer I was looking for.
    – Smlok
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 3:57

1 Answer 1


Both meanings are common. To me, those two meanings are actually closely related.

ざっくり or ザクッ is primarily an onomatopoeia for the coarse "friction" noise produced when you deeply cut fiber-rich objects (cabbages, pumpkins, thick cloths, etc), trample snow/gravel, or dig in the soil with a shovel. You can hear typical ざっくり sounds in this video. (By the way, how do you describe this sound in English? I'm not sure, but maybe "zap" or "crack"?) We also say ざくざく when such a noise is made in rapid succession.

So the ざく sound is basically a fairly rough noise. By extension, ざく/ざっくり(と)/ざくっと by itself started to gain the sense of roughness/coarseness.

  • ざく切りにする to cut something into chunks (in cooking)
  • ざっくりと編んだセーター roughly knitted sweater
  • ざっくりとした説明 a rough explanation
  • ざっくり10万円 roughly 100 thousand yen

If I remember correctly, this usage was a little humorous and slangy in several decades ago, but now it has become commonplace.

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    Definitely not zap or crack. I love Japanese onomatopoeia. They're so much more expressive than English. I think for the example with snow and gravel 'scrunch' might work: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/scrunch I cannot think of a word to describe the sound of cutting fibrous vegetables or cloth though. Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 10:34
  • Chomp, chunk, and scrunch are all imperfect fits, but nonetheless fairly ballpark-ish.
    – Will
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 12:17

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