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I saw these different words used to describe someone who was something careless in an airhead type of way so I wanted to know if they mean that or if there is nuance in the definition. Is there another word for airhead if that isn't the definition then?

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They have different meanings. Please look up each word in a dictionary. 能天気な人 (jisho.org, ALC) refers to someone who is carefree or optimistic to a fault, someone who doesn't get serious or feel anxious even when they should. おっちょこちょいな人 (jisho.org, ALC) refers to someone who is careless and makes many simple (but usually non-critical) mistakes such as forgetting an umbrella or blackening a pancake.

EDIT: As Nanigashi pointed out, jisho.org's definition of 能天気 may be misleading. Monolingual dictionaries explicitly say or at least imply 能天気 is derogatory (see this and this).

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  • With the exception of "thoughtless," the English-language equivalents given for 能天気 in the jisho.org entry all have positive rather than negative connotations and by themselves do not convey the nuance of being carefree "to a fault." (In other words, your answer is much more helpful than just consulting this particular dictionary would be!)
    – Nanigashi
    Feb 14 at 22:01
  • @Nanigashi Thank you, I should have included some links to monlingual dictionaries, too.
    – naruto
    Feb 15 at 0:21
  • In terms of other words for airhead, Ive seen the word 天然 used to describe the main character in おやすみカラスまた来てね. It seems to be fit airhead well but also not always having a bad connotation. Can also just mean someone who is genuine (I guess?)
    – Lucas
    Feb 15 at 0:38
  • @Lucas 天然 describes someone who says ridiculous things innocently without thinking. 天然 is not necessarily derogatory, and it's regarded as one of "moe traits". According to this, goofy is closest. (Sorry, I don't know if airhead can be used in a positive manner.)
    – naruto
    Feb 15 at 0:51
  • I wouldnt say it can be used in a postive manner pers say, but I think it can be seen as either endearing or harmless. I feel a bit skeptical about the DMM comments saying goofy is best because goofy comes off more as someone who is humorous, maybe even unintentionally. Also the top reply has airhead in it, so I think it suggests its a suitable translation. Regardless, it may depend on the context at the end of the day.
    – Lucas
    Feb 15 at 1:41

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