Medetai: 2 Different Meanings of the Japanese Word

Chinese food vs Japanese food
Chinese food vs Japanese food

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.

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