“Baka” is a Japanese swear word và one of the most famous Japanese words – no wonder there is a saying that curse words are the first step lớn learning a Foreign Language ; )

You might have already heard of “baka” many times through animes, movies, or trending Tik
Tok videos using the catch phrase “sussy baka”. But what does “baka” actually mean? Is it a bad word? How bởi vì Japanese people use it? If these questions are lingering in the back of your mind, please don’t skip this article. After our introduction lớn the term, we will give you a lot of fun facts about it!

If you just want a short version, baka is a Japanese curse word that means idiot, moron, stupid, dumb, etc. It’s an offensive term that should be used very carefully và avoided in formal situations. Sometimes baka can also be a sign of intimacy. Here are 4 common uses baka:


Make fun of very close friends
Regret or blame something that someone did
Look down on or insult someone
In romantic relationships

Want to dig deeper? Here is a complete explanation. If you wish to lớn learn more Japanese words, Lingo
Deer is the best place lớn start!

Table of Contents

How to use baka
Baka’s history và origin

What does baka mean

According to lớn the weblio eivonline.edu.vn, baka means “idiot,” “fool,” “moron” (noun), or “stupid,” “dumb,” “obtuse,” “dull” (adjective). Its Kanji size is “馬鹿” and kana forms are “ばか” and “バカ.” Generally, the word baka is used to describe someone who lacks common sense or has done something foolish. So please use it carefully and avoid using this word in formal situations.

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How to lớn pronounce baka in Japanese? Listen to the audio below ⬇️

https://blog.lingodeer.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/pronunciation_ja_ばか.mp3baka’s calligraphy

It’s easy lớn learn the definition of a foreign word with the high accessibility of dictionaries và translation services in the internet era. However, learning a foreign word’s specific contextual meanings will still take time, especially for slang such as “baka” that has many subtle nuances.

Baka can be a curse word, ridicule, criticism, insult, offensive term, or even a sign of intimacy. The below compilation presents different scenarios lớn showcase its various usages. Without further ado, let’s get started!

How lớn use baka

As mentioned above, “baka” can sound totally different depending on the conversation và context. It also depends on who you are talking to & in which tone. In general, please avoid using it in the following situations:

To your boss, teacher, elders, or anyone else you respect.

To strangers, acquaintances, or people you just met.

On a formal occasion or in public, even though it’s lớn your close friend.

When you are unsure what it means.

To people who are from the Kansai region 

You may be wondering why the last one is included. Well, baka can sound more or less insulting depending on the region you’re in. As for Kansai, “baka” tends to lớn be a much stronger insult. Instead, Kansai people use another word, “ahō” (阿呆), far more often. You can think of it as the Kansai version of “baka.” 

Just lượt thích English, Japanese has many dialects. The meanings of many words & expressions in Japanese can change according to region. That’s why you should be careful using curse words lượt thích “baka” to joke around if you don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the term.

In the following sections, some scenes will be given which contain several typical uses of “baka.” Please try to compare their nuances depending on different contexts.

Use baka when making fun of close friends

In the following conversation, Shun và Nosuke are good friends. Shun told Nosuke he was reading a UFO-related book. However, Nosuke doesn’t believe in UFOs, so he thought reading a book lượt thích this was stupid. “Baka” doesn’t hurt because they are used to talking khổng lồ each other in such a playfully rude way. 


Shun: I’m reading a book called Introduction lớn Ufology.

乃介: こんな本を読むとか馬鹿なの?

Nosuke: Isn’t it stupid to lớn read this kind of book?


Shun: It’s not stupid. It’s interesting!

Use baka lớn look down on or insult someone

Shizuka và Tarō are classmates. Tarō has a crush on Shizuka. One day, a basketball tournament was held at the school. Students gathered in the gymnasium to watch the game. Shizuka, the girl, is cheering for a player named Yamamoto. Unfortunately, Tarō heard it, got jealous, & muttered that Yamamoto was a “bakayaro.”

静佳: 山本先輩は本当にかっこいいです!

Shizuka: Yamamoto-senpai is so cool!

太郎: あいつは馬鹿野郎だ。

Tarō: That guy is a stupid jerk.

Bakayarō” is a commonly used compound word that combines “baka” và “yarō” (野郎). “Yarō” is also a highly context-dependent word. It means “man” or “dude” when being used among male friends to mock each other. However, it turns to “jerk” or “dumbass” if you are meaning khổng lồ offend someone. 

Additionally, Japanese people sometimes put “大(おお)” before “馬鹿” khổng lồ emphasize the degree of foolishness at hand — e.g. 大馬鹿, 大馬鹿野郎, & 大バカ者.

Let’s see another dialogue with the most common use of baka. 

本田: 30点しか取れなかった?お前バカすぎじゃねえ?

Honda: (You) only got 30 points? You’re so stupid!

Use baka khổng lồ regret or blame something that someone did

The quái vật criticized his employee for doing a bad thing.

部長: バカじゃねーの?あんなことをするとか。

Boss: Are you stupid? (How come you) did that?! 

部下: 馬鹿なことをして本当に申し訳ございません。

Subordinate: I sincerely apologize for doing a foolish thing.

Use baka in thắm thiết relationships

Baka can also be used by couples & lovers. You may have noticed this in Japanese thắm thiết dramas or anime. In the below dialogue, Kanna và Osu are lovers và they have broken up for a month after an argument. On a rainy night, Osu, the boy, shows up at Kanna’s doorstep with a homemade cake.

雄: これ、食べてみて。

Osu: Please try this.

環奈: 馬鹿

Kanna: You dummy…

Baka’s other usages

Now that we’ve seen the essential usages of “baka,” let’s take it a step further. “Baka” can also be used as a prefix for adjectives & nouns khổng lồ indicate excessiveness, which is similar to lớn “very” or “super.” 

馬鹿正直 – be honest khổng lồ a fault

馬鹿に寒い – ridiculously cold

Another frequently seen meaning of it is “useless” or “broken.”

蛇口が馬鹿になった – The faucet has broken

味覚が馬鹿になる – to lớn experience loss of taste

Sometimes, “baka” refers khổng lồ someone who is indulgent in something but doesn’t see its faults or disadvantages.

親馬鹿 – doting parent

It can also be used khổng lồ describe someone who is very good at & fascinated with a subject but doesn’t care about or lacks basic knowledge of others.

音楽馬鹿 – someone who is crazy about music

Baka’s history and origin

At this point, I believe you have become a master in “baka” now ; ) In this section, I would lượt thích to introduce the two most significant theories about the origins of “baka.”

A Chinese idiom 指鹿為馬

The most widely accepted theory about “baka’s” origin is that this word was derived from a Classical Chinese idiom, 指鹿為馬. Before reading the history behind the idiom, please chú ý that it contains the two Kanji that make up the word “baka”, “鹿” & “” — respectively meaning “deer” và “horse” in both Chinese & Japanese. Furthermore, the literal meaning of the idiom, 指鹿為馬, is “pointing at a deer and saying it’s a horse.” Am I kidding? No. 

指鹿為馬 – pointing at a deer & saying it’s a horse.

Once there was an emperor of trung quốc called Hu Hai, who was the son of Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC). Hu hai was too young khổng lồ be a sovereign in power, which meant that the country was actually controlled by the prime minister, Zhao Gao. This evil vassal eventually had the idea of replacing Hu nhị on the throne. To lớn carry out such a vast conspiracy, Zhao first needed to know he or the emperor had more respect from the officials in the court.

One day, Zhao presented a deer to the emperor và said it was a rare breed of horse. Hu Hai, the emperor, asked doubtfully, “Isn’t that a deer?” Zhao insisted it was a horse as he observed the officials’ reactions. Some officials were more outspoken & said it was a deer, while some, out of fear of Zhao, chimed in & said it was a horse. After that day, Zhao assassinated those who referred khổng lồ it as a deer.

Now you can probably understand why this Chinese idiom, 指鹿為馬, refers khổng lồ deliberate misrepresentation. As I mentioned above, this is the most widely accepted theory about the origin of the Japanese word “baka” (馬鹿), even if it doesn’t mean exactly the same thing as the idiom.

Baka is a loanword from Sanskrit

Another well-known theory argues that the word “baka” is a loanword from Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the sacred language of Hinduism và is also used khổng lồ transcribe Buddhist classics.

A Sanskrit word, Moha (मोह), is considered by many linguists to lớn be the origin of the word “baka.” It means bewilderment, loss of consciousness, delusion, or folly. This claim seems khổng lồ make more sense in terms of meaning than the previous one.

Other Japanese swear words

At this point, we have nailed down “baka,” but now I’d like to introduce you lớn several other
Japanese curse words và pejoratives. I have khổng lồ say that Japanese is not a rich language in terms of profanity, especially compared with English & Chinese. Still, there are some quality insults out there for us to lớn dig into.

3ちくしょうchikushō畜生beast; damn it
4ブスbusu/ugly woman
11さいていsaitei最低the worst; b*tch
12やくたたずyakutatazu役立たずuseless person
13ざこzako雑魚useless person
15しねshine死ねgo to lớn hell; drop dead
18くうきがよめないkuuki ga yomenai空気が読めない(someone) can’t read the room
19くたばれkutabare/go lớn hell
24よわむしyowamushi弱虫p*ssy; weakling
28ちびchibi/small fry; pipsqueak; dwarf
29ビッチbicchi/bitch (loanword)
31きえろkiero消えろf**k off; get lost

Baka is a Japanese word that means “crazy,” “foolish,” or downright “stupid.” It can also be used as a noun for “a fool” or “a crazy or stupid person.” Anime & manga fans in the West have adopted the use of baka as a (usually joking) insult.


There are multiple theories on the origin of the word baka. One argues that it came from a Sanskrit word used by Buddhist monks in Japan. You know how slang spreads around a monastery. The Sanskrit word may have been moha, “bewildered,” or mahallaka, “senile.”

It may also come from wakomono, meaning “young people” (who are occasionally crazy or foolish) or an older use of baka meaning “a bankrupt family” (maybe as an insult for someone so irresponsible they’re in danger of bankrupting their family).

Baka (馬鹿) is written with the characters for horse and deer. Yet another origin story suggests that it comes from the story of a courtier who calls a deer a horse. What a moron.

Regardless of its exact origins, baka was in use as an insult in the 14th century, when it shows up in the historical epic the Taiheiki.

Baka was used in English during World War II. The Japanese military used human-piloted missiles in kamikaze attacks. American soldiers called such a craft Baka.

As with many other Japanese words, anime & manga are what really introduced the West to baka. One 1980s manga-turned-anime series, Urusei Yatsura, featured a character who constantly berates her would-be boyfriend, yelling “Darling no baka,” roughly “Darling, you idiot,” before electrocuting him with her space alien powers.

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By the late 1980s, English-speaking anime fans were using “ no baka” as an inside joke. By the 1990s, anime fans were peppering baka into their online writing.



In 1995, the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, the character Asuka practically uses Anta baka? as a catchphrase, roughly translated as “What are you, stupid?”