10 Nouns You Probably Didn’t Know in Japanese :Hello, and welcome to another Bondlingo vocabulary-building lesson! Today, we’re going over a list of 10 nouns you probably didn’t know in Japanese. The theme of the day is 食い (kui), which means “eating.” Every word in our list today will have 食い attached to it to form a compound noun. Some of the combinations make sense, but others…well, you’ll just have to read on to find out!  

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1. 大食い (Ōgui)

Back in 2005, a petite Japanese woman named Gal Sone won an eating contest that crowned her the “Gluttonous King” of Japan. Since then, she’s gone on to accomplish more amazing feats of gluttony such as consuming 6kgs of curry in 23 minutes and eating a 15,000-calorie meal in one sitting.    

Gal Sone remains to this day one of the most famous 大食い (ōgui, big eaters) in Japan. What makes her extra memorable is that she was able to keep her slender figure the entire time!

Ōgui combines the kanji for “big” (大, ō) and the word for “eating” (食い, kui). It is used to describe someone who has a big appetite—something you’ll want to make known in a country known for its small portions.

2. 食いしん坊 (Kuishinbou)

While “ōgui is just a way of saying you have a big appetite, 食いしん坊 (kuishinbou), on the other hand, carries more of a negative nuance. If you say that someone is a kuishinbou you’re calling them a glutton, or, in other words, a pig. Therefore, while Gal Sone above might seem like a kuishinbou while stuffing her mouth with hot dogs at an eating contest, she’s probably well-mannered in her daily life; therefore, not a kuishinbou per se.

3. パン食い競争 (Pankui Kyousou)

This literally translates to “bread-eating contest,” but it’s different than a Gal Sone contest, where the goal is to eat as much as you can. In Japan, a パン食い競争 (pankui kyousou) is a popular game to play in school for the national holiday Sports Day. In this game, sweet pieces of bread are dangled from strings, and kids have to run up, bite the bread off of the string, and keep running with the bread in their mouths to the finish line. This is a great game for kids because everyone gets a sweet piece of bread to eat in the end!

4. 只食い (Tadagui)

Have you ever been such a loyal customer at a restaurant that you’ve gotten to eat there for free? If so, that means you’re 只食い (tadagui), which means “eating for free.” Sometimes in Japan, ramen shops offer stamp cards where if you eat a certain number of meals and fill up your card, your next meal is tadagui. A great deal if you ask me!  

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5. 面食い (Menkui)

Looks don’t matter because real beauty is on the inside, right? Well, not for people who are 面食い (menkui)! These are the types of people who will go on a blind date and decide the instant they get a look at the person’s face whether or not there’s going to be a second date. Japanese men don’t spend hours in the bathroom on their hair for no reason!

Menkui combines the kanji 面 (men), which means “face; features; surface,” with 食い, and literally translates to “face-eating.” I guess that means that a menkui wants a face good enough to eat!

6. 人形食い (Ningyoukui)

This has roughly the same meaning as menkui above, except the word 人形 (ningyou) is used instead of men. Ningyou means “doll” in Japanese, and ningyoukui is a person who loves them a pretty face. Wow, ain’t she a doll!

7. 食い違い (Kuichigai)

If two people have differing viewpoints or there is a conflict of interest, it’s called a 食い違い (kuichigai). It can also be used to mean “inconsistency” if talking about, say, two reports that say two different things. Kuichigai combines the word 食い with 違い (chigai), which means “difference.” 

“Eating difference?” Your guess is as good as mine as to where eating comes into the picture…

8. 薬食い (Kusurigui)

In olden times, eating meat in Japan wasn’t as common as it is today. In fact, only in recent times has the average Japanese person been able to stomach beef. This was not good for sickly people of the past who had a rough time surviving the winter months. Therefore, during the Edo period they would practice was is called 薬食い (kusurigui), which is the act of eating animals such as wild boar and deer as a kind of medicine to battle the cold weather. This was a way to keep them healthy and their bodies warm. Sounds like it worked out pretty well!

9. 利食い (Rigui)

What does a stockbroker do when his stocks are up? He sells them for a profit! The word 利食い (rigui) takes the first kanji in 利益 (rieki, profit) and attaches it to 食い to mean “profit-taking,” but the literal translation is “profit eating.” I guess they don’t call them the wolves of Wall Street for nothing!

10. 如何物食い (Ikamonokui)

If you’ve ever seen the show on the Travel Channel called Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, then you’ve had a great introduction to the life of an 如何物食い (ikamonokui). What is an ikamonokui? The title says it all: an eater of bizarre foods. Frog sashimi, anyone?

And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed our study of the word 食い and how it can be used in combination with other words to mean more than just eating!

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