5 Ways to Create Nicknames in Japanese + List

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Japan is a very formal language, so nicknames are rarely used. When one person becomes intimate with the other, they usually call them by their first name. This is the main way to express love, affection and friendship.

But Japanese people have some cute nicknames. They usually use adjectives to express affection such as kawaii which means cute and several other nicknames. The most common way to nickname a Japanese person is to use and shorten the person’s own name.

It’s not easy to find a list of nicknames in Japanese because usually Japanese nicknames are literally puns with names, along with the addition of some cute suffix. Fortunately there are some nicknames that we can highlight and present.

Adana and Aijyou – Japanese Nickname

The Japanese nicknames are called adana [あだ名], also known as aijyou [愛称] which denotes animal nicknames, affectionate, intimate and informal nicknames. It can be recognized from English as nickname [ニックネーム].

A nickname is usually used to call another person, to add on behalf of online game characters, account on forums and websites or also on pets. Some nicknames are zoe and offensive, but are not common in Japan.

Motorcycles and cars are also nicknamed, some put the name of their vehicles Hayate which means fast or Nozomi which reminds us of the bullet train. Even places like the Tokyo Police Department get nicknames like Sakuradamon.

Stations and trains also often get nicknames. Some nicknames are as common in Japan as in the West, animal names like “Pochi” [ポチ] for dogs and “Tama” [タマ] for cats is a good example of Japanese pet nicknames.

5 Ways to Create Nicknames in Japanese + List

Surname Shortening the Name

The Japanese way of putting nicknames is one of the most intelligent and fun in the world. The most common and simple is shortening the name, this happens a lot in the West. The same way we speak Dani to Daniele, the Japanese speak Haru to Haruna.

Usually the last syllable or two is hidden when nicknaming someone in Japanese. It is also necessary to use a treatment suffix, the most common for women is -chan and for men is -kun. Remember that they are informal suffixes for friends.

As a form of nickname, another rather unusual suffix that exhales fluffiness, affection and sweetness is -tan, used for babies and cute children. Another alternative is the suffix -rin. At the end of the article we will leave a list with many cute suffixes to use in the names.

Not only the first name, but the family name or over name is also widely used as an abbreviated nickname with cute suffix in Japan. So consider turning your friend’s last name into something cute.

Some names can be abbreviated by adding an extension [ー] at the end of the last syllable. Others shorten the name by taking a syllable (あいうえお) and replacing it with a small tsu extension [っ]. See some examples below:

  • Miichan de Misaki (extension ー);
  • Yukko by Yuuko (small tsu);
  • Yuririn de Yuri (suffix);

Nickname Joining the names

Another option is to add the name to the last name. For example: Kimura Takuya can become Kimu-Taku, a cute nickname created by joining the name and over Japanese name. Another famous example is Matsumoto Jun which becomes MatsuJun for fans.

Some names are not shortened, but also are not junctions of name and surname. Some simply join pieces of the name with other adjectives, onomatopoeia or words that represent or show some characteristic of the person.

Famous people like singers, idols and dubbers usually have their names changed in a way considered Kawaii. Below is a list of names that have been joined or shortened in a unique way:

  • Maririn – Mariko Shinoda;
  • Meetan – Megumi Ohori;
  • Hikki – Utada Hikaru;
  • Miikashi – Miike Takashi;
  • Emurina – Emu Kasurina (nome estrangeiro); 
  • Kyonkyon – Kyoko Koizumi
  • Match – Kondo Masahiko
  • Yukko – Yukiko Okada
  • Mayyu – Mayu Watanabe
  • Aii – Aika Hirota
5 Ways to Create Nicknames in Japanese + List
Idol AKB48

Surnames with kanji puns

Japanese names are written using ideograms that usually have their own meanings. The ideograms called kanji can also have different readings, many have the same reading, which allows the creation of nicknames.

For example, if a friend of yours calls Shi [市] you can write a message using Shi [士] which means knight. Yes, you can indirectly nickname someone speaking the same name, but in your head it reminds you of something else.

Who doesn’t remember the famous Ichigo [一護]? His name and ideograms have absolutely nothing to do with it, but ichigo can also mean Strawberry. People with that name end up being related to strawberries in one way or another.

Others have names that can be read in a different way. See the case of Otonage [大人気] which can also be read Daininki [大人気] which literally means a super popular person.

The possibilities are endless, but for these creations it is necessary to have an advanced knowledge of Japanese ideograms and also to know the person well in order to resemble some characteristic to his or her name.

5 Ways to Create Nicknames in Japanese + List
Ideograms that may have the same pronunciation, but different meanings.

Nicknames by mispronunciation

Some Japanese nicknames may appear when breaking or mispronouncing. You can make a mistake on purpose by pronouncing one word that reminds you of another. Another cause is the rendaku where KA [か] becomes GA [が] or TA [た] life of DA [だ], this kind of generates nicknames.

Others create nicknames derived from a name, but which recall some word or Japanese adjective that coincidentally resembles or equals written with another ideogram. We have the famous case of Sawako who turned Sadako into anime Kimi ni Todoke.

See below some examples of nicknames that were created through the error of pronunciation, similarity or rendaku:

  • Teko > Peko
  • Ayachan > Yayachan
  • Manaka > Maaka
  • Reina > Reenya

Other alternatives would be to invert the syllables of the name on purpose to form nicknames. Translate the name into English or put syllables that are synonyms to the person’s name. There are infinite ways to play with names. See below:

  • Yuichan – Chanyui 
  • Nanami – Miinana
  • Haruka – HaruHaru 
  • Momo – Peach 
  • Koharu – Chibiharu

Affectionate surnames in Japanese

Below we will leave some cute and affectionate nicknames used in Japanese. Remembering that some of the nicknames below need to be pronounced with suffixes (chan, kun) to make some sense. I’ll mark with [#] those that need a suffix.

JapaneseRomajiMeaning
ダーリンdaarinDarling
ハニーhaniiHoney
旦那dannaCute husband form
yomeBride, wife
奥さんokusanWife
ottoHusband
tsumaWife
団子dangoSweet Japanese
鼠ちゃんnezumichanMouse
あなたanataDear
スウィーティーSuuiitiiSweet, sweetness
5 Ways to Create Nicknames in Japanese + List
It was at the Nisekoi anime that I met the Darling and Honey terms.

Pejorative surnames in Japanese

Below we will leave a list with nicknames that are used as insults, or pejorative. We also recommend reading our article that talks about bad words in Japanese. Remember that pejorative nicknames in Japanese are also used by changing the name.

Some add a word that looks like a name, but has an insulting content, adding the formal suffix -san. Some of the nicknames in the list below will explain this well. Sometimes the insult is not purposeful, just a characteristic of the person.

JapaneseRomajiMeaning
駄目君damekunFailed, failed
ボケbokeIdiot
バカちゃんbakachanIdiot
バカちbakachiIdiot
不細工busaikuDisheveled
ガキgaki brat, kid, urchin
butaPork
あほahoDonkey
変態hentaiPervert

Cute Suffixes in Japanese

The idea below is simple, in the circle you put the name of the person followed by the treatment suffix. Doing this serves as a nickname and cute treatment to a close friend. All the suffixes below are considered cute and affectionate.

Some of the suffixes below are more appropriate if used when shortening or merging some name. As in the case of Fujita Niko you can turn Nikorun using the name shortening with run suffix. See if the chosen suffix doesn’t fit better like this.

  • 〇〇ちゃん – chan
  • 〇〇ちゃそ – chaso
  • 〇〇ちゃま – chama
  • 〇〇ちゅん – chun
  • 〇〇しゃん – shan
  • 〇〇たん – tan 
  • 〇〇たそ – taso
  • 〇〇たゃ – tya
  • 〇〇きゅん – kyun
  • 〇〇きゃん – kyan
  • 〇〇ん – n
  • 〇〇やん – yan
  • 〇〇はん – han
  • 〇〇ちん – chin
  • 〇〇りん – rin
  • 〇〇めろ – mero
  • 〇〇める – meru 
  • 〇〇にゃ – nya
  • 〇〇みゅ – myu
  • 〇〇にゃん – nyan
  • 〇〇ぴょん – pyon
  • 〇〇ぽぽ – popo
  • 〇〇ころ – koro
  • 〇〇しゃん – shyan
  • 〇〇ぺこ – peko
  • 〇〇ち – chi
  • 〇〇す – su
  • 〇〇ぴ – pi 
  • 〇〇ぷー – puu
  • 〇〇ーぬ – ーnu
  • 〇〇もち – mochi
  • 〇〇まる – maru
  • 〇〇ぽよ – poyo
  • 〇〇っちょ – ttyo
  • 〇〇ちょこ – choko (love chocolates) 
  • 〇〇めろ
  • うさ〇〇 – Prefixo (love rabbits) 
  • ゆめ〇〇 – Prefixo (dreamer) 
  • 〇〇てぃー
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