- The linguistic meaning of “Yamete Kudasai”
- What is the meaning of “Yamete Kudasai”?
- Meanings of yameru やめる
- Kanji Chinese Characters used to write yameru
- Yamete meaning
- What does “yamete” mean when you put “Kudasai” on the end to make “Yamete Kudasai”?
- Yamete vs. Yamero
- Other Japanese phrases with similar meanings to “yamete kudasai”
- More polite ways to say “yamete”
- The Cultural meaning of “Yamete Kudasai”
- Other negative words and phrases you hear
- The history of “yamete”– style ambivalent language in sexual contexts in Japan
- The “Yamete Kudasai, Mabushii Desu” Manga
- Yamete Kudasai Sound
- Yamero as a meme
- In Conclusion
I’ll go into some of the cultural connotations and nuances of the meaning of “Yamete Kudasai below”. But, first things first, let’s cut to the chase:
The linguistic meaning of “Yamete Kudasai”
What is the meaning of “Yamete Kudasai”?
Yamete kudasai means “please stop”:
The phrase yamete kudasai is made of two words:
Meanings of yameru やめる
The word yameru in Japanese has three main meanings.
If you look it up in a dictionary you get:
Yameru (止める、已める、 廃める) meaning #1
1 to stop (an activity); to cease; to discontinue; to end; to quit
2 to cancel; to abandon; to give up; to abolish; to abstain; to refrain
Yameru （辞める、罷める、 退める）meaning #2
In a related meaning yameru can also mean:
To resign; to retire; to quit; to leave (one’s job, etc.)
Yameru （病める、痛める）meaning #3
Yameru also has a totally different meaning unrelated to the first two:
sick; ill; ailing
Kanji Chinese Characters used to write yameru
Yameru can be written with several different Kanji Chinese characters, to express the different meanings of the word:
Perhaps because there are so many characters to choose from when writing yameru, it is very common for Japanese people to write the word in Hiragana as やめる.
Of the Kanji that are used, the first one 止める is the most common.
This is the same character that you see written on roads and road signs in Japan saying 止まれ tomare, meaning “Stop”.
Yamete やめて is the imperative form of the verb yameru やめる, which means to stop doing something.
Examples of yameru やめる and やめて yamete
Tabaco wo yameru no wa muzukashi
Stopping smoking is hard.
Tabako wo suu no wo yamete kudasai.
Please stop smoking.
Do men say Yamete?
Yes, men say “yamete”. In Japan, putting “te” on the end of other verbs, such as the verb “yameru” for stop, is a fundamental part of the language for all people regardless of gender.
It is true that the word “yamero” is more strongly associated with men than women, but this is really just because the word “yamero” is more “forceful” than “yamete” and being “forceful” is commonly associated with being “masculine”.
But, whether you are a male or a female, it is perfectly normal to use “yamete”.
What does “yamete” mean when you put “Kudasai” on the end to make “Yamete Kudasai”?
Kudasai is close to the English word “please”.
So putting “kudasai” on the end of “yamete” is more polite.
Depending on how the words are said, it can also sound “imploring” in the same way that “please” can in English, in the sense of “Stop, please!”
When said more forcefully, it can sound authoritative, or procedural. In this way, it can sometimes take on the sense of “please refrain” or “not allowed in English”.
rōka de no tachibanashi wa yamete kudasai.
Please refrain from standing around in the hallway talking.
koko de tabako o suu no wa yamete kudasai.
Please refrain from smoking in the area.
inshokubutsu no mochikomi wa yamete kudasai.
Food and drink from outside not allowed.
Yamete vs. Yamero
Yamete is a less forceful way of telling someone to stop something than Yamero. If you say yamero to someone you are giving them an order to stop.
Both of the words are still strong imperative words telling someone to stop doing something. But yamero suggests more authority, and the ability to enforce that authority.
Yamete, while still a strong imperative, is closer to “asking” someone to do something than yamero, which is closer to demanding.
I’ve written a detailed explanation of the meaning of yamero here.
Example sentences using “Yamero”
Hanashi wo yamero
Shut your mouth!
Kidoru no wa yamero
Mondai wo sakeru no wo yamero
Stop avoiding the problem
Kare e no hinan wo yamero
Get off his back!
Example sentences using “yamete”
Hey, stop it!
Jyodan wa yamete
Donaru no wa yamete
Hinan suru no wa yamete
Other Japanese phrases with similar meanings to “yamete kudasai”
Yamete can also be put together with a bunch of different endings to achieve a similar effect to just yamete or yamete kudasai – and you hear pretty much all of them used in a range of contexts.
These words include:
Could you just stop it?
This phrase is fairly neutral in tone. Well, as neutral as telling someone to “just stop something” can be really…
You can shorten the same phrase to change it from a questioning phrase to a more assertive one by saying:
Just stop it.
This has a somewhat “masculine” tone to it, and sounds quite aggressive if used in the right tone. It can also be used as a fairly standard “rough and tumble” sounding phrase, mostly between men.
To achieve a softer, almost cute tone you can go with:
Give it a rest.
Putting chodai on the end of a phrase to mean “please give me” has a cute, almost child-like sound to it. Saying “stop it” this way definitely “softens the blow” somewhat.
I would like you to stop that.
Yamete moraemasu ka
Could you stop that for me?
I want you to stop that.
Japanese being a very polite people, and a very polite language, have the uncanny ability to express dissatisfaction with a person or situation while still showing respect.
More polite ways to say “yamete”
Putting the honorific “O” on the front of a word makes it much more polite.
Yamete itadakemasen ka
Would you mind stopping that?
“Itadaku” is a super polite verb form of the word “morau”, meaning to receive. So in a sense, in this phrase, it is like you are saying “May I receive the gift of you stopping what you are doing”.
Putting the “itadaku” into negative form as “itadakemasenka”, as in “won’t you?” gives the person you are speaking to an easy option of turning you down, and thus makes it a softer, more polite, way of telling someone to do something.
o yame itadakemasen ka
If you take the phrase above and put an “O” in front of it, it gets politer still!
Of course, however much you dress up “yamete” you are still, fundamentally telling someone to stop something.
To get around this, Japanese also has options of words that are less direct, such as:
go enryo kudasai
Please refrain from
o hikae kudasai
Please abstain from
From here, let’s go on to have a look at the cultural context of the phrase “yamete kudasai” and its use in popular culture.
The Cultural meaning of “Yamete Kudasai”
Yamete Kudasai meaning in a sexual context
Outside of Japan the phrase “yamete kudasai” has become associated with it’s use in a sexual context.
In Japanese adult media from anime to live action videos, it is not uncommon to hear a women using the phrase yamete or yamete kudasai as they are being groped, undressed or otherwise the subjected to sexual advances.
The idea of someone saying “stop” in a sexual context while simultaneously seeming aroused is a common sexual festish, so it’s not surprising that this phrase comes out in a lot of adult content.
How this sits in the context of the “no means no” movement is an issue worthy of discussion.
The polite form of the phrase yamete kudasai, meaning “stop, please!” is perhaps the more fetishized of the two forms of the word.
The combination of “polite” with “imploring” is strongly associated with the fetishizing of high school, JK 女子高生 jyoshi kousei in Japan and around the world.
Most famously, the adult-anime (which is generally referred to by the Japanese word for “pervert” or “randy person”, hentai, outside of Japan) “Toriko no kusari” featured several scenes where young girls in compromising situations impeached their lovers to “yamete kudasai” – “please, stop”.
These are not the only “please, stop” words you hear girls and women using in Japanese adult media.
Other negative words and phrases you hear
I don’t like it!
Or, in the Kansai Western part of Japan, you hear
It’s no good.
These words are sometimes used directed at their partner in the sense of “You can’t do that” or “stop it” or “that’s bad”.
But sometimes they are also used by people directed inwardly at themselves in the sense of
“I can’t stand it” or “I can’t control myself” or “it’s too much”.
The history of “yamete”– style ambivalent language in sexual contexts in Japan
This ambivalent language, and its use with school age girls, traces back to around the mid-eighties. Around this time, the object of adult affection switched from Jyoshi Dai-Sei to Jyoshi Kou-sei, from University women, to school girls.
This was at least symbolised, and at least partly created by, the television Yuyake Nyan Nyan. The show had a segment called アイドルを探せ (Idol Search!), where high school age girls could audition to become part of the in-house music group. The show was set up as an answer to the program All-Night Fuji, which had done a similar thing with University aged women.
The high-school girl group on Yuyake Nyan Nyan was christened Onyanko Club, and was masterminded by songwriter/producer Yasushi Akimoto, who would later go on to create the outrageously successful AK48 franchise of groups.
Onyanko Club’s biggest hit was all about a high school girl saying “no” while hinting that the answer was yes. I’ve done a complete translation of the song Sailor fuku wo nugasanaide, but to quote a section, the song featured the lines:
Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform
Not now! Please be patient
Don’t take off my sailor-style school uniform
I don’t want you to, no, not in a place like this
The “Yamete Kudasai, Mabushii Desu” Manga
The phrase “Yamate Kudasai Mabushii Desu” was the name of a yaoi manga, meaning a comic with homosexual themes, from 2015. The name literally means, “Stop it, your light is shining too bright”. It is the story of Sasano developing a high school crush on Koga in a journey of self-discovery and sexual awakening.
Yamete Kudasai Sound
The audio of Yamete Kudasai sounds like this when pronounced in normal Japanese by a female voice:
And like this by a male voice:
The audio of the “yamete kudasai” from the anime Toriko no kusari is particularly searched for because of it’s overtly erotic sound:
This audio has been recreated by various other creators to the point where it has become something of a meme across the internet.
Yamero as a meme
In addition to “yamete kudasai” the word “Yamero” itself became a huge meme on the internet after a picture of a dog being squirted with a hose followed by a close up panel of the dogs face with the word “Yamero” written next to it was posted to Tumbler in 2016. This led to people posting all kinds of animal pictures with the word “Yamero” next to them to all kinds of platforms across the net.
Overall, in Japan “Yamete Kudasai” is actually a pretty everyday Japanese phrase that roughly translates to “Stop it.” It can be used as a parental imperative or as an implicit, barely suppressed desire.
It is also sometimes translated as “Enough!” or “Don’t do that!” and is commonly used in situations where a person is doing something that is either not appropriate (e.g., saying something racist), dangerous (e.g., speeding), or simply not beneficial to them (e.g. staying out late without doing homework). The phrase can be used as a semi-polite request to someone, usually asking them to stop doing something and/or make a change. Or it can be used with a stern tone to be quite a reproach.
Go forth and use your newfound power for being able to tell people in Japanese to stop doing something. Just choose your battles here folks, and remember the old adage that “no means no”.
Find my guide on the meaning of yamero here.
Who is behind this site?
I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records. You can hear my music at my bandcamp page: