Medetai: 2 Different Meanings of the Japanese Word

With positive meanings, Medetai (めでたい) reminds many Japanese of red sea bream, as in its word, Tai (たい) can mean sea bream or 鯛 (Tai). 

The truth is that Medetai is derived from Mede-Itashi (愛で甚し) and is unrelated to fish.

But Taiyaki pancake got its idea from Medetai, and many people associate the word with a fish.

Meaning of Medetai (めでたい)

Sea Bream Fish associated with Medetai

Medetai originally means: so good (excellent or splendid), like no choice but to admire. But its contemporary meaning is often: auspicious or happy or good news, like

  • めでたい日 (Auspicious day)
  • めでたい色 (Happy color)
  • それはめでたい (that is Good News)

Omedetai (おめでたい)

In the Japanese language, the prefix お (O) can be an honorific. And you can use Medetai and Omedetai interchangeably, like 

  • おめでたい日 (Auspicious day)
  • おめでたい色 (Happy color)
  • それはおめでたい (that is Good News)

In many cases, we use Omedetai in the same way as Medetai. But the former can have a sarcastic connotation (like naive or easily deceived) with a person, so be cautious.

  • 君はおめでたいね (implicitly meaning: you are Naive)
  • おめでたい人 (in other words, 世間知らずな人 or Naive person)

(Reference Page: Goo Japanese Dictionary めでたい )


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.

1 Response

  1. July 29, 2023

    […] expressions, reflecting its integration into everyday language. For example, the phrase “medetai tai” conveys the joy of celebrating special […]

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