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What Does KUN Mean in Japanese?

what does kun mean? japanese honorificJapanese Language Learning

Hi, it’s Junko from Japan. KUN is a common honorific for boys and men in Japan. But you may be confused about the difference between KUN and other honorifics like SAN or CHAN. In this post, I’ll explain when and how you should use KUN properly!

Basic Rule: KUN Is Used for Men

KUN is used to refer to men. You can use it for babies to adults as long as he’s younger than you or the same age as you. Please note that it’s rude to call someone older than you with KUN. If you want to add an honorific to someone older or superior, you should use SAN instead.

The Case KUN is Used for Women

KUN is a honorific for men. That’s a basic rule. But it’s sometimes used for women when older or superior people call younger women. For example, a boss calls his female subordinates.

Isn’t it strange?


No. It happens often in offices! It sounds formal and serious when you use KUN for women. Younger people don’t say that but I think elder people prefer to use KUN both for men and women. But only men do that. Women never use KUN for girls.

Formal or Causal?

KUN can be used in both informal and formal contexts, whereas CHAN cannot. At this point, it’s easy to use. However, using SAMA is a preferable manner for official and formal writing such as business emails and documents. Check out the link below to learn more about how to use SAMA!

If I put commonly-used Japanese honorifics in order of formality, it’ll be like this.

  1. SAMA
  2. SAN
  3. KUN
  4. CHAN

Do you still have any questions? If so, please let me know via comment, and I’ll update the post!

Related Posts about Japanese Honorifics

What Does SAMA Mean in Japanese? How to Use SAMA correctly

What Does CHAN Mean in Japanese?

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