Imo: 2 Different Meanings of the Japanese Word
“Imo (いも, イモ, 芋)” is a Japanese word for beginners of the language, which generally refers to or has a meaning of “potato”.
Imo is actually not the name of a variety but is the umbrella term for edible plant roots and rhizomes that have stored nutrients and enlarged, except for bulbs like an onion or “Tamanegi (玉ねぎ)”.
The tuber Imo is a nutritious food rich in carbohydrates such as starch and its cultivation is easy. Because of that, today, in many parts of the world, Imo has been a staple in the diet.
The varieties of Imo commonly used in cooking in Japan include below.
- Jagaimo (じゃがいも): “white potato” in English
- Satsumaimo (さつまいも): “sweet potato” in English
- Satoimo (里芋): “taro” in English
- Yamaimo (山芋): “Japanese mountain yam” in English
- Nagaimo (長芋): “Chinese yam” in English
- Konnyakuimo (こんにゃく芋): “konjac potato” in English
Another Meaning of Imo
Actually, the word “Imo (芋)” is also used for a person, often in the form of “Imoppoi (芋っぽい: like Imo)”, in which case it means “unsophisticated” or “uncool“.
This Imo has a negative or sarcastic meaning and can give offense to the targeted individual, so please be careful when you use it.
- あの男性歌手は芋だ。: That male singer is uncool (or unattractive in appearance).
- 彼女は芋っぽい。: She is unsophisticated (like Imo).