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8 Words to Say HUNGRY in Japanese

how to say hungry in japaneseJapanese Language Learning

Hi, it’s Junko. There are many ways in Japanese to say HUNGRY. I’ll introduce eight common words and phrases!

Kuufuku (noun)

kuu fuku, japanese kanji letters meaning hunger

Kuufuku means hunger. KUU is empty, and FUKU is the stomach. An empty stomach makes being hungry!

Kiga (noun)

kiga, japanese kanji letters meaning starvation

Kiga is a stronger word for meaning hunger. It’s equivalent to starvation and famine. We don’t use it in our daily conversation, and it’s a word used in the formal scene like news or discussing social problems.

Onaka ga Suku (phrase)

onaka ga suku, a sentence meaning being hungry in japanese

Onaka ga suku is the most common phrase to say being hungry in daily conversation. ONAKA means a stomach, and SUKU is a verb to mean becoming empty. The actual phrase we say in our conversation is “Onaka ga Suita”. SUITA is the past tense of the verb Suku.

Hara ga Heru (phrase)

hara ga heru, meaning being hungry in japanese

Another common phrase is Hara ga Heru. It sounds manly and rough but is used as often as Onaka ga Suku. HARA is a stomach, and HERU means to decrease. Heru is the present tense, and the past tense is Hetta. You can say “Hara ga Hetta” in the actual conversation.

Can’t you say “Onaka ga Heru”?


That’s a good question! Both “Onaka ga Heru” and “Hara ga Suku” make sense.

Any difference between these two?


Usually, women don’t use the word Hara. If a lady says “Hara ga Hetta!”, it sounds rough and rude. “Onaka ga Suita” is more natural and a phrase for everyone.

Ueru (verb)

ueru, japanese word meaning being starving

Ueru means to starve for something. It’s a stronger word to express hunger, but we don’t use it much in spoken conversation.

Himojii (verb)

himojii, japanese word meaning hungry with a miserable tone

The word Himojii contains a miserable and depressive tone. It gives an old-fashioned impression and is often used when talking about the old days.

Harapeko (noun)

harapeko, a japanese slung word meaning hungry

Harapeko is a kind of slung to stand for hunger. A similar phrase is PEKOPEKO and it means that your stomach is all empty. You can say “Onaka ga Pekopeko” to express you’re hungry.

Hangury (kind of adjective)

hangury, a japanese word written in katakana

Most Japanese know what hungry in English means. It’s sometimes written in Katakana and used as an adjective. The typical usage is “Hangury Seishin”. It means a hungry spirit and is often used even in media like TV and public documents.

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