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 tasty.
Mazui (まずい: meaning Bad)
Yes, Mazui basically means bad or terrible. According to Goo’s Japanese dictionary, the word is used in the following situations.
1. In terms of taste
Here, Mazui means taste bad, represented as 不味い using Kanji characters. To make it easier to understand, below is a sentence example.
- このインスタントラーメンは不味い: This instant ramen tastes bad.
2. In terms of the ability
Here, Mazui means bad, poor, or unskilled, represented as 拙い using Kanji and Hiragana, as seen below.
- あの絵の構成は拙い: The composition of that painting is bad (poor or unskilled).
3. In terms of looks
Here, Mazui means bad or ugly, as seen in the usage example below.
- この写真の私の顔の表情はまずい: The look of my face in this picture is bad (ugly).
4. In terms of the situation
Here, Mazui means bad or unfavorable (sometimes dangerous), sometimes used as an interjection, meaning oh no, as seen in the sentences below.
- 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 & Awesome)
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 things and the situation
Specifically, Yabai is often used in terms of things and the situation, meaning bad or dangerous (sometimes unlawfully).
As with the no.4 usage of Mazui, here, the word is sometimes used as an interjection, meaning oh no. To make it easier to understand, below are sentence examples.
- この状況はやばい: This situation is bad (unfavorable or dangerous).
- やばい商売をやっていて彼は捕まったみたいだ: 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.
2. As a slang word
Yabai is also a slang word often used among young generations, meaning awesome or very good, as seen in the usage examples below.
- あの映画はやばかった、まじ最高: That movie was awesome, seriously best.
- このケーキはやばい: This cake is awesome (tastes very good).