Daijoubu – Understanding the meaning and usage of the Japanese word

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One of the most popular words in the Japanese language and which does not have a literal translation is daijoubu which is written using the ideograms [大丈夫]. Its meaning is a little ambiguous, so we will end the confusion that this word causes in Japanese students.

The word daijobu is often translated as “don't worry or everything is fine”, but in this article we will try to delve deeper into the true meaning and usage of the word daijobu.

The word daijoubu can be an adjective, an adverb and a noun used in questions and answers and different situations in the Japanese language. This expression has also become popular in the West due to otaku and anime. It is often used as a response to people asking or asking if they can do something.

Daijoubu - understanding the meaning and use of the Japanese word

What is the meaning of Daijoubu?

As an adjective like [な], the word daijoubu [大丈夫] can mean that something is safe, free from trouble, that one can perform the action without any fear, that all is well or Okay

When daijoubu is used as an adverb, it conveys the idea that everything is fine, no doubts or no problems.

The word daijōbu (another romanization) can also be used to reject some things equivalent to a “thank you” or other acknowledgment. 

It can convey the idea of “no thanks”, “it's ok”, “it's ok”, “don't mind me”. The most common is to interpret the word as a simple “I'm fine”“, especially if it is accompanied by ”desu” [です] or “da” [だ].

When used as a question, we can translate it as “are you okay?” or “everything ok?”. If someone stumbles, looks sad, got scared, or has done anything that involves a concern, the term “daijoubu” is perhaps the most polite expression to use.

The meaning of the word will depend on the context used!

Daijoubu - understanding the meaning and use of the Japanese word

What is the origin of Daijoubu?

Formerly the word referred to a big tall man, hence the characters 大 (big), 丈 (tall) and 夫 (husband). What do these ideograms have to do with the meaning of the word?

In the old days in China, calling young people “strong and resilient men” was a kind of compliment about how they are growing and becoming healthy.

At the time such a term was used for both sexes to refer to their health and well-being.

Studying these ideograms in depth, their meaning makes perfect sense. “Dai” [大] means big, strong and very. The rest of the word “joubu” [丈夫] means healthy, robust, strong, solid and durable.

It is interesting to remember that the name Masurao can be written with the characters [大丈夫]. There is also the expression "daijoubukkyou" [大乗仏教] which refers to the Mahayana of Buddhism which ironically refers to a large vehicle, a classificatory term popular in Buddhism.
Daijoubu - understanding the meaning and use of the Japanese word

When to use Daijoubu for Questions?

There are numerous situations involving questions where you can use the expression daijoubu. One of the most popular is when they offer something, and you want to politely decline.

If you got sick last week a friend might ask you:

  • 大丈夫ですか
  • daijoubu desu ka?

In that case you can answer:

  • 大丈夫です
  • daijoubu desu

Alternatives to Daijoubu

What other words can you use in place of daijobu? What are the differences between them? First we will make a list and then explain a little about each of them.

  • Genki [元気] – How are you?
  • Kekkou desu [結構です] – I'm fine;
  • Iidesu [良いです] – Okay;

The word “kekkou desu” [結構です] means splendid, good, wonderful, sufficient and enough. Often used to politely decline something.

Already “iidesu” [良いです] literally means is good. This word is often used in addition to a simple good, it is usually used to accept or reject something.

What is the difference between daijoubu and genki?

Another word with a similar meaning is genki [元気] which is usually used to ask about the person's health, or if he is well,

Although both words mean “to be fine”, the word “daijoubu” is used to ask about a current situation. Already “genki” is used for a continuous “be well” as if you had a good day. 

“Daijoubu” is especially used when something is wrong or someone has been hurt. On the other hand, “genki” is usually used when greeting and starting a daily conversation.

Daijoubu - understanding the meaning and use of the Japanese word

Phrases and expressions using daijōbu

To end the article we will leave some example sentences that use the expression daijoubu. I hope you enjoyed the article and we appreciate the comments and shares.

EnglishJapaneseRomaji
My mom said she was fine.母は大丈夫だと言ったHaha wa daijōbuda to itta
It's probably all right.多分大丈夫ですTabun daijōbu desu
Are you feeling good?気分は大丈夫ですかKibun wa daijōbudesuka
it is all good?全て大丈夫ですかSubete daijōbudesuka
Only that water is fine.その水は飲でも大丈夫です。Sono mizu wa in demo daijōbudesu.
It'll be okay to hurry.急がば大丈夫ですIsogaba daijōbudesu
I am not well (formal).大丈夫じゃありませんDaijoubujyaarimasen
I'm not well.大丈夫じゃないDaijoubujyanai
Everything will be alright.きっと大丈夫だよKitto daijobu dayo
Is everything ok for tomorrow?明日は大丈夫ですかAshita wa daijobu desu ka?
Is it okay to ask?お願いしても大丈夫ですかOnegaishitemo daijobudesu ka?
Are you alright?大丈夫なのかdaijoubunanoka

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