Warui vs Mazui: The Difference in Meaning and Usage

“Warui (わるい, 悪い)” is the Japanese word literally meaning “bad”, while the adjective “Mazui (まずい)” also basically means “bad” or “terrible”. 

Since both the words have a meaning of “bad”, some people may confuse their usages. 

Mazui vs Warui

Mazui vs Warui

As I wrote in this article before, unlike Warui, Mazui is used in terms of “taste”, “ability”, “looks”, and “situation”.

To make it easier for you to understand, here I will give some examples and judge the usage.

In terms of “Taste”

If the English sentence “This cake tastes bad” is translated into Japanese, 

  • このケーキまずい (natural): Mazui is most often used in terms of taste and means “taste bad”.
  • このケーキ悪い (doesn’t make sense): This sentence means the cake itself is bad. In this case, you should say “このケーキの味悪い (The taste of this cake is bad)”. 

In terms of “Ability”

If the English sentence “The composition of this painting is bad” is translated into Japanese, 

  • この絵の構成はまずい (natural): “この絵の構成は良くない (The composition of this painting is not good)” is also good.
  • この絵の構成は悪い (a little unnatural): I think this expression is too straight, and it’s more common to say “この絵の構成は良くない (Kono E no Kousei wa Yokunai)”.

In terms of “Looks”

If the English sentence “He looks bad” is translated into Japanese, 

  • 彼は見た目がまずい (a little unnatural): But if you say “彼の見た目はまずい”, it is natural.
  • 彼は見た目が悪い (natural): In other words, “彼は格好悪い”.

In terms of “Situation”

If the English sentence “This situation is bad” is translated into Japanese, 

  • この状況はまずい (natural): “この状況はやばい (Kono Jyokyo wa Yabai)” has almost the same meaning, but the latter gives the impression like “more seriously bad”.
  • この状況は悪い (natural): This expression is more literal than the above.

In Conclusion

In general, Mazui says “bad” in a roundabout way, whereas Warui literally means something is bad.

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.

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