- What Does Urusai Mean?
- Urusai as “Noisy”
- Urusai as “annoying“
- Urusai as “Picky”
- Urusai as “Shut Up“
- But does Urusai Really Mean Shut Up?
- How offensive is it to say urusai to someone?
- Urusai pronunciation
- Urusei meaning
- Examples of Urusai in anime and manga
- Welcome to the Ballroom (ボールルームへようこそ) – Tatara Fujita (富士田多々良 )
- AKIRA (アキラ )
- かぐや様は告らせたい～天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦 Kaguya Sama Love is War
- Demon Slayer (鬼滅の刃)
- Serial Experiments Lain (玲音)
- Gintama (銀魂)
- Hori san to Miyamura kun (堀さんと宮村くん)
- Damare vs. Urusai
- Urusai – Noisy in Japanese Kanji
- Using “Urusai” in a playful or humorous way
- How to say urusai politely
- Who uses “Urusai”
- Past Tense of Urusai
- Other Japanese words with similar meanings to urusai
The word “urusai” in Japanese is a way to say that someone or something is being noisy or disruptive. If someone says it directly to another person, the implication is that they are telling them to “be quiet”, so it is often translated as “shut up” in English (I’ve done a whole post about how to say shut up in Japanese). This is generally a fair translation, but not a literal one, because if you say to someone “urusai” you are literally saying “(you’re) noisy”.
But the word urusai is actually very interesting because it has quite a few different, but related, meanings that it gets used in though.
If urusai meant only “noisy” then how can this sentence make sense:
kami ga nobite urusai
My hair is so urusai.
You can see from this example that urusai is used in a larger range of meanings than English words like “noisy”.
These meanings are not necessarily intuitive to the non-native speaker. These meanings and concepts conflate the ideas of “noisiness” with a myriad of mostly negative feelings including irritation, annoyance, and overbearingness.
I say “mostly negative” because urusai can even have positive meanings. Urusai can be positive in the same way that saying “she is particular about taking care of her things” would generally be considered a flattering statement.
Isn’t interesting how different cultures see the world, and how language shapes our view of our environment?
What Does Urusai Mean?
The main meanings of the Japanese word Urusai in English are:
1. Noisy, loud
2. annoying, irritating, overbearing, persistent, nagging
3. Fussy, picky, bossy, particular
4. shut up, be quiet, shut it.
Let’s take a look at some examples of urusai being used in each of these meanings.
Urusai as “Noisy”
This is the most common way that you hear the word used, and consequently the meaning that most people first learn for the word.
Here are a few examples:
sono urusai ongaku ni wa gaman dekinai
I can’t stand this loud music.
It’s so noisy I can’t think.
ushi ga urusai
The cows are noisy
Urusai as “annoying“
Urusai also takes on the general meaning of anything that gets on your nerves:
An annoying boy.
Moto kanojo ga shitsukokutsukimatottekite urusai
My ex-girlfriend keeps hanging around and being annoying.
Hae wa ursai mono da
Flys are annoying.
Urusai as “Picky”
This meaning of urusai as nitpicking or being finicky about something is a little less simple to grasp. But it makes sense when you think about people that are picky about stuff, they usually have a lot to say, and to tell you. In this sense, they come across as “the loudest voice in the room”.
Here are some examples of urusai in this context.
Kanojyo wa tabemono ni urusai
She is a fussy eater.
Kare wa jikan ni urusai
He is particular about punctuality.
Kisei ga urusai
The rules are strict.
Seken ga urusai
People are judgemental
Urusai as “Shut Up“
Urusai can mean “shut up” in some contexts. For example:
Ima sugu dete ikanai to
If you don’t leave right now…
But does Urusai Really Mean Shut Up?
Urusai can be used to convey something like “shut up” in Japanese. It literally means more like “you’re noisy” or “you’re annoying”. So in this way, it is not a directly imperative statement like “shut up”, where you are directly telling someone to do something.
So, in this way, urusai is probably closer to statements like:
“you’re such a big mouth”
“What a windbag”
than it directly is to “shut up”.
A more direct translation of shut up is:
Shut up, be quiet.
In this word, you are literally giving someone a command to “be quiet”.
This makes it a stronger word than urusai and, thus, closer in tone to “shut up”.
How offensive is it to say urusai to someone?
To cut someone off in mid-sentence by saying “urusai” is generally pretty offensive.
Yet you find it used in Japanese a lot more than a phrase like “shut up” in English because it is often used in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek way.
Here is a male voice saying urusai
and a female voice:
うるせえ Urusei or urusee is a more colloquial and “biting” way of pronouncing the word urusai, meaning “shut up” or “you’re annoying me”.
Pronouncing the word with more of an e sound than an i sound gives the word more of a tough, or masculine tone.
We do similar things in English when we say “I’m gonna getcha” as opposed to “I’m going to get you”.
So urusei and urusai are essentially the same word, but urusei generally sounds more aggressive than urusai.
Examples of Urusai in anime and manga
Welcome to the Ballroom (ボールルームへようこそ) – Tatara Fujita (富士田多々良 )
Shiruka, boku wa ne atama ga waruin da yo
Don’t you know, I’m really a bit of a dummy!
Gocha gocha urusai no da
Quit your grumbling!
AKIRA (アキラ )
Urusai! Ore ni meirei suruna
Shut it! Don’t try and give me orders.
かぐや様は告らせたい～天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦 Kaguya Sama Love is War
Surusai naa bukkorsuyo
What a pain in the butt. I’m going to destroy you.
Demon Slayer (鬼滅の刃)
Urusai yo. Kono kurai shi ni wa shinai daro, oni nan dakara
Clam it! It’s not like something like this would kill you, you know you’re a demon right?
Serial Experiments Lain (玲音)
You’re so annoying…can’t you just shut your big gob?
Aa!? Gyaagyaa urusai jiji arune
What? We seem to have a whinging old man here.
Hori san to Miyamura kun (堀さんと宮村くん)
Ii hito toka warugi ga nai to ka amari kannkei nai kara, ato koe ga ursai hito mo
I don’t care if they’re nice, or they don’t have any bad intentions, or if they speak loudly
Damare vs. Urusai
Damare is a more direct way of saying “shut up” than urusai. Damare literally means “be quiet” and is a command. Urusai is literally saying “you’re noisy”, so is not directly telling someone to shut up.
Urusai – Noisy in Japanese Kanji
The Kanji used for Urusai is
Interestingly, the kanji has an alternative reading of
わずらい wazurai or, as a verb, わずらう wazurau
This word has the meanings of:
1. to be ill; to suffer from
2. to worry about; to be concerned about
3. to have trouble doing …; to be unable to …; to fail to …
This helps you get a more full and nuanced understanding of the word “Urusai” and its relationship to various negative things, including sickness.
Interestingly, there is another way of writing urusai in kanji:
These kanji literally mean “flys in May”.
Could there possibly be anything more annoying, and indeed, noisy!
You can see how simply translating “urusai” as “noisy”, or the imperative “shut up” is not always appropriate and there is a whole lot of nuance required.
Using “Urusai” in a playful or humorous way
One of the reasons you so often hear the word urusai in Japanese is that it is often used in a tongue-in-cheek way. This means that the word also often finds its way into anime and manga, which is where many Western people first come across the word.
So, in a playful context of back and forth banter you might hear something like:
Jyon san wa motemote ne
Aren’t you just the stud, John?
Put a sock in it!
Here you can see that person A is gently teasing person B, who is giving person A a light retort urusai in return.
How to say urusai politely
Using urusai as a way of asking someone to “please be quiet” is pretty intense, and not recommended. If you just wanted to ask someone to tone it down a little bit you should use something like:
Shizuka ni shite kudasai
Please be quiet.
Even that is pretty direct though. So you might want to soften things up more by saying something like.
Mo chotto shizuka ni shite itadakemasenka
Would you mind keeping it down for me a little?
There you go, much less confronting!
Who uses “Urusai”
The word urusai, and its variation urusei can be used, for example, by children, teachers, or parents to tell other people to quiet down. Parents might use this word when their children are making too much noise playing outside.
But really, in its range of meanings, the word urusai is used by all walks of life.
Past Tense of Urusai
Past tense of urusai is urusakatta.
Other Japanese words with similar meanings to urusai
Annoying, a pain
A bother, a nuisance
Be quiet! Shut up!
In conclusion, urusai is a common word in the Japanese culture. The word has multiple meanings and connotations that represent several different but related ideas.
It is most often used to describe someone who is making a lot of noise, such as a crying baby at the grocery store, or someone talking loudly on their phone while waiting for an elevator.
Additionally, urusai can be translated to mean the act of being rude or simply obnoxious.
Urusai is a word that has a high degree of potential for using badly, and really getting a person’s now out of joint. Couple this with the fact that the word is actually quite frequently used, and you have a piece of vocab that any Japanese learner will want to cross off their list of “thoroughly learned and understood” words pretty quick-smart!