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Useful Notes / Baka

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Japanese word for "idiot", "stupid", "moron", "imbecile", "dumbass", or any other similar term; also frequently translated as "jerk." This is an all-purpose profanity applied to persons who have done anything stupid, insensitive or thoughtless. Usually seen in the idiomatic phrase "Anta baka?!", which is a favorite catchphrase of Tsunderes.

Occasionally used as an insulting honorific: Kono-baka. Translation 

Also employed as an endearment between couples, but the delivery differs — when used affectionately, the word is drawn out instead of spat sharply. Being called "baka" by a new boyfriend/girlfriend while receiving a playful smack on the top of the head is considered a comforting sign of how well things are going.

Written with kanji characters (馬鹿), it reads as "horse-deer", which puzzles everybody, Japanese or not. note  (Folk etymologies trace this to someone who can't tell the two apart, or possibly to a test to find yes-men.) The Chinese have the legend of an Emperor's advisor testing his power by 'showing a horse and calling it a deer'. The kanji are actually ateji, which means they are there solely for phonetic reasons and not meant to be translated literally. In some legends there's actually a youkai called "Mumashika" but written with the same Kanji as "Baka", which can possess people and make them stupid. According to the most-accepted theory, baka is an ancient loanword from Sanskrit, specifically, the word moha (मोह). It means either "error" or "distraction" and was originally part of Buddhist slang used by monks among themselves. Although long ago nativized into Japanese, the word is often written in katakana for emphasis.

The word, amusingly, also happens to sound identical to ''vaca/baka'', the Spanish and Tagalog words for "cow". This faux ami between the different languages often leads to a lot of bilingual jokes between Japanese speakers, Hispanics and Filipinos.

"Baka" is a staple of Fangirl Japanese. More and more, along with various honorifics, it appears untranslated in English language manga. "Baka" had previously made its way into English in the 1940s as the US Army's codename for Imperial Japan's Yokosuka MXY-7 Oka, the legendary kamikaze flying bomb.

This word can sometimes take various forms:

  • baka "Baka"
  • baka yarou "Stupid Asshole"
  • oo-baka "Great Baka"
  • oo-baka yarou "Dumbass"
  • origami-tsuki no baka "Acknowledged (i.e. Got A Degree In) Baka"
  • shoushin shoumei no baka "Down-right baka"
  • sokonuke no baka "Bottomless (i.e. Down And Out) Baka"
  • akireta baka "Hopeless Baka"
  • kamaboko-baka "Fish Cake Baka"
  • tanjun-baka "Simple Baka"
  • usura-baka "Dumb Baka"

Occasionally, the word aho (阿呆, "Foolish") is used instead, especially by Kansai dialect speakers. This is because baka is a much stronger insult in Kansai, only used when you really want to denigrate your target, while aho has much the same childish connotation in Kansai as baka does in other areas.

This is a definition-only entry. No examples needed.