Umai: Meaning of the Japanese Word

“Umai (うまい)” is a Japanese word often used in terms of food, in which case it is written as “旨い” or “美味い” using Chinese characters or Kanji, meaning “tasty” or “delicious“.

Meaning of Umai in Japanese 

Umai meaning Good

Other than this usage, Umai frequently appears in everyday Japanese conversation and means to “be good at” or “do well” something. For example,

  • The Japanese sentence “彼は歌が上手い (Kare wa Uta ga Umai)(Pronunciation)” translates to English as “He is good at singing” or “He sings well”.

Umai (上手い) or Jouzu (上手)

In this case, Umai is represented as “上手い” using Kanji, which has the same meaning as “Jouzu (上手)”. So the above sentence can be rewritten using Jouzu as 

  • 彼は歌が上手だ。(Kare wa Uta ga Jouzu-da)(Pronunciation)

Umai Hanashi (うまい話)

Also, Umai is combined with “Hanashi (話: story)”. The phrase “Umai Hanashi (うまい話)” means “sweet deal” and typically is used in negative sentences, like

  • そんなうまい話あるはずがない (Pronunciation): There shouldn’t be such a sweet deal.

Umai Hanashi has a synonym which is “Oishii Hanashi (おいしい話)”.

(Reference Page: Goo Dictionary )


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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