Mazui vs Yabai: Meaning in Japanese

“Mazui (まずい)” is a Japanese word often used in terms of food, in which case the antonym is “Umai (うまい)” meaning “delicious” or “taste good”.

Mazui (まずい) meaning Bad

Mazui or Yabai

Yes, Mazui basically means “bad” or “terrible”. Specifically, according to Goo’s Japanese dictionary, the word is usually used in the following situations.

1. In terms of “taste”

Here, Mazui means “taste bad” and is represented as “不味い” using Chinese characters or Kanji. To make it easier for you to understand, here is a sentence example.

  • このインスタントラーメン不味い: This instant ramen tastes bad.

2. In terms of “ability”

Here, Mazui means “bad” or “poor” or “unskilled” and is represented as “拙い” using Kanji and Hiragana. And here is a sentence example of this usage.

  • あの絵の構成は拙い: The composition of that painting is bad (poor, unskilled).

3. In terms of “looks”

Here, Mazui means “bad” or “ugly“, and here is a sentence example of this usage.

  • この写真の私の顔の表情まずい: The look of my face in this picture is bad (ugly).

4. In terms of “situation”

Here, Mazui means “bad” or “unfavorable (sometimes dangerous)“. In this usage, the word is also used as an interjection and means “oh no“. And here are sentence examples.

  • この状況はまずい: This situation is bad (unfavorable or dangerous).
  • まずい、遅刻する: Oh no, I’m late.

Yabai (やばい) meaning Dangerous and Awesome

Yabai or Mazui

By the way, in the Japanese language, there is a word with meanings like Mazui, which is “Yabai (やばい)”. But unlike Mazui, Yabai is a kind of contronym and can mean both positive and negative.

1. In terms of “situation” and “things”

Specifically, Yabai is often used in terms of things and the situation and basically means “bad” or “dangerous (sometimes unlawfully)“. 

As with Mazui, in this usage, the word is also used as an interjection and means “oh no“. To make it easier to understand, here are sentence examples.

  • この状況はやばい: This situation is bad (unfavorable or dangerous).
  • やばい商売やってて彼捕まったみたい: I hear he has been arrested because of his dangerous business.
  • 彼はやばい奴だ: He is a bad (dangerous) guy.
  • やばい、遅刻する: Oh no, I’m late.

As you can see by now, here, Yabai has almost the same meanings as the no.4 usage of Mazui.

2. As a slang word

Yabai is actually a word often used among young people, in which case, the word is used as a kind of slang and means “awesome” or “very good“. And here are examples of this usage.

  • あの映画やばかった、まじ最高: That movie was awesome, seriously best.
  • このケーキやばい: This cake is awesome (tastes very good).

Tomo

Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: