Given that 気分 is primarily a word with a psychological meaning I find the use of 気分が悪い to refer to physical illness a bit confusing. If I just say 今日は気分が悪い, with no further context, will the listener infer that I am feeling physically unwell, or that I am in a bad mood?

If there is an ambiguity is there a way to resolve it without explaining the reason for the 気分? I guess I could use 機嫌が悪い instead to unambiguously talk about my mood. Is there an equivalent for physical health?

This post, is related but doesn't quite answer my question.

Edit Apparently 機嫌が悪い is not used to refer to oneself. Could the answer please include an appropriate expression to describe ones own mood?

  • 2
    This is not part of the question but 機嫌が悪い is usually not used to describe yourself.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented May 9, 2021 at 16:34
  • 3
    It is perhaps not all that unlike saying "I'm not feeling well" in English--and a few other of its variations like "not feeling so good" or "not feeling so hot". These all could refer either to your mental state or physical state. Context and the individual clue us in. If I said any of these, those who know me would assume I meant I was not feeling well physically: either due to illness or physical exhaustion (I'm outdoors hiking and biking a lot). But for others in my circle of friends, we might assume they're depressed or in a foul mood because that's what they tend to complain about.
    – A.Ellett
    Commented May 9, 2021 at 17:56
  • I usually heard 体調 being used for the physical condition/illness instead of 気分.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 2:12

1 Answer 1


Although it also has multiple meanings, 調子 is commonly used for describing one’s physical state as in 調子がいい or 調子が悪い (can be made even more explicit by using 体{からだ}の調子)

  • This is helpful, thanks. Are you able to say anything about whether 今日は気分が悪い is actually ambiguous? Commented May 9, 2021 at 16:30
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    @user3856370: It is.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented May 9, 2021 at 16:35
  • 1
    you can also use it for inanimate objects. LIke an engine. エンジンの調子どう?
    – Jun Sato
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 0:53

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