How to “get the fuck out” in Japanese

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[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

The issue of profane language in Japanese has been discussed on LL at some length and with sundry examples, at least one of which I provided myself (shitshow).

Nevertheless, while recognizing the risk of flogging a dead or moribund steed, I was sufficiently taken aback by a headline in today’s news to feel it warranted a bit of exposition.

The headline, which, notably, came from Japan’s hard-right, anti-China Sankei newspaper, was:

「中国よ、消えうせやがれ」 フィリピン外相、“禁句”使って怒り爆発

“Chūgoku yo, kieuseyagare” Firipin gaishō “kinku” tsukatte ikari bakuhatsu

“Hey China, fuck off!” Philippines foreign minister uses taboo word in angry explosion

The (gleefully) offending passage is the opening quote, which comes from the Twitter feed of the Philippines’ foreign minister, Teddy Locsin Jr., whose on-site bio includes “speech writer” as one credit. The Sankei headline begins by translating the ALL CAPS rant portion of an otherwise normally punctuated rant generally atypical of the world of diplomatic language:

China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE FUCK OUT.

If I understand correctly, Locsin was responding to Chinese incursions into the Philippines’ territorial waters.

Anyway, the profanity is not all that interesting, or even really surprising ― Locsin works for Duterte, after all ― but the Japanese rendering is.

The first three characters are the rough equivalent of “Hey China!” (“Chūgoku yo”). So far so good. It gets even better, though, because the delightfully nuanced verbal phrase “get the fuck out” gets translated as a compound of three verbs: “kie-use-yagare.”

The first two verbal stems are synonyms meaning “disappear,” though the contemporary uses of use(ru) tend toward the rude, i.e., “Get lost!” as command rather than simply get lost because you’re not in GPS range. Together, as the compound verb kieuseru, the implication is definitely and indelibly the former.

消える+ 失せる = 消え失せる

kieru + useru = kieuseru = “get lost,” “get outta here,” etc.

Semantically, then, the imperative kieusero would be enough to convey the meaning of “get out!” and perhaps even “get the fuck out.”

The addition of やがる (yagaru) is important, though. This is a verb that is only used as a suffix―often, as here, in the simple imperative. It is as rude as Japanese gets. It is perhaps best thought of as indicating mood or mode rather than meaning. And that mood ranges from disdain to hatred. It is the suffix you use to describe the actions of someone you actively despise. In other words, it is the emphatic, “the fuck” here.

I guess the takeaway is that because of its rich lexicon of verbs and verb forms for interpersonal relationships, this is one type of invective where Japanese can hold its own.

Selected readings

"No way to curse in Japanese? " (1/24/17)
"The paucity of curse words in Japanese" (9/4/14)
"'Not just any sale, it's a #$&@^' sale' " (1/9/12)


  1. Su-Chong Lim said,

    May 7, 2021 @ 3:20 pm

    Very interesting insight into human sensitivities and the nature of mode of language usage. Japanese conversational and written customs being so well defined and observed makes for very forceful effect when navigating so close to the edge of acceptable expression, without needing to use the "F bomb”. Interesting too that it can translate so well.

  2. Jim Breen said,

    May 7, 2021 @ 6:22 pm

    Good article. Thank you.

    Interesting the see the compound verb 消え失せる being used very appropriately here. I'm quite fond of this 複合動詞 (fukugōdōshi) form; I even wrote a paper about them years ago:

    When 消え失せる was first included in the JMdict/EDICT dictionary many years ago it had as one of its glosses "(in imperative) to fuck off". Some years back that was removed as it was considered a bit strong. Perhaps we should revisit it.

  3. David Marjanović said,

    May 8, 2021 @ 11:54 am

    Thank you for preserving the tweet – in its original location it "is unavailable", so apparently it's been deleted.

  4. Tom Ace said,

    May 8, 2021 @ 11:11 pm

    The original tweet is available from and has a few more choice words.

  5. Philip Taylor said,

    May 9, 2021 @ 5:15 am

    Failed to find it at the Archive link for 4th inst. (circa03:00), but finally found a copy here.

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