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MILK in Japanese Words: The Way Native Japanese Say It

how to say milk in japaneseJapanese Language Learning

Hi, Junko from Japan here. Milk says GYUNYU in Japanese. Here’s the Kanji writing for the word. It’s usually written in Kanji letters. I put the Hiragana version as well for your information.

How to Say MILK in Japanese

gyunyu written in japanese kanji
gyunyu written in hiragana

GYU = cow, cattle, bull, ox
NYU = milk

GYU is a Kanji symbol for cow, cattle, bull, and ox. The Japanese language doesn’t distinguish them and uses the same word. When you want to mean cattle as an animal, you should read it USHI instead of GYU. We read GYU only when it’s combined with other words. For example, beef is GYUNIKU (cattle meat).

NYU stands for milk. This kanji alone can stand for milk, but we never call milk just NYU. As the GYU does, NYU is also used only when being placed together with other words.

Here are some related words you’ll see in a Japanese supermarket.

Japanese Words Including GYU

  • 牛肉 GYUNIKU (beef)
  • 乳牛 NYUGYU (milk cow)
  • 牧牛 BOKUGYU (cattle)
  • 和牛 WAGYU (Japanese cow)

Japanese Words Including NYU

  • 生乳 SEINYU (row milk)
  • 加工乳 KAKONYU (processed milk)
  • 豆乳 TONYU (soy milk)
  • 乳製品 NYUSEIHIN (dairy products)
  • 母乳 BONYU (mother’s milk)

The English Word MILK Makes Sense in Japan

In Japan, the English word MILK can also make sense since it has become very common and almost regarded as a Japanese word. MILK pronounced MI RU KU. The Japanese language doesn’t have an R sound, and I think the actual pronunciation sounds like MI LU KU for English speakers. Here’s the writing for it. It’s written in Katakana letters.

The Katakana MILK is usually used to mean “sweet milk-flavored.” If you want to mean ordinary milk, GYUNYU is overwhelmingly common.

Then how do you use the Katakana milk?


Well, it’s used for something that came from foreign cultures. For example, MILK CHOCOLATE says as is ミルクチョコレート (MIRUKU CHOKORETO) in Japan.

Additionally, powdered milk for babies is called KONA MIRUKU or just MIRUKU in Japanese. Come to think of it, we never call it KONA BONYU. It’s always MIRUKU.

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