The magical word “Daijobu”, what does it really mean?

  • LANGUAGE
  • CULTURE
  • Have you ever heard of this word spoken by the Japanese? If so, you might be wondering what the word really indicates. This word is used in various situations, an take on various meanings and is one of the most widely used Japanese words. So how is it used?

    “Daijobu Desu”

    We say “daijobu” when we tell others we are fine, no need to be worried or everything is steady. “30 minutes have passed. Will you really be able to arrive on time?”- “Daijobu desu”. “I heard you had been suffering from a terrible cold for a week. Are you okay now?”-“Daijobu desu”. Something like that.

    However, Japanese people recently overuse it and the real meaning of this word is getting unclear.

    So, let’s take a look at what kind of situations modern people use Daijobu in.

    1. Restaurants

    When a waiter asks them “do you want some water?”, people say “Daijobu desu” as “no thanks”. But if they ask “Could I pour some more water in your glass?” and people say “Daijobu desu”, I am confused what this Daijobu indicates. Do they refuse or accept the waiter’s offer? Most of the time you need to hear their tone and gesture.

    2. Shopping

    A customer is looking for a skirt, but she doesn’t seem to be able to find the one she wants. She asks the sales clerk, “I want this in a different color.”. The clerk answers, “Daijobu desu”. In this case, the sales clerk means she is able to pre-order it or something similar, and the customer will get what she wants very soon. It may sound a bit too casual, but today’s young people do communicate with each other in such a way.

    The reason why Japanese people love using this magical word, is that it can signify both yes and no, it is mostly because our own culture lets them do that. We always try to read the situation, be peaceful and avoid any trouble. “Daijobu” is the best way to prepare a safe answer for any kind of a question.

    It is probably easy for Japanese beginners to try using “Daijobu desu” as the first step, but please be careful not to overuse it, especially in business!