The meaning of baka mitai (馬鹿みたい) in Japanese and how to use it

This article will give you all of the knowledge you need on the Japanese word baka mitai, including its Japanese definition and translation, example sentences, and more!

What does baka mitai mean?

Baka mitai (馬鹿みたい、バカみたい) means looks foolish or ridiculous. This phrase is made up of baka (stupid, dumb) and mitai (look like, appear). You can say baka mitai about a person or situation. Note that baka is written either with its kanji or with katakana (this does not change the meaning).

Baka mitai is a common phrase in Japanese conversation. Like many Japanese words, it is quite flexible.

For example, an older sister might say the following (perhaps while rolling her eyes!) to her brother who is trying to act cool in front of some girls.

Baka mitai jyan!
You look kind of dumb right now!

Baka mitai therefore tends to be pretty casual. You might also throw it in when lightly teasing a friend or romantic partner. It goes without saying that you wouldn’t say this phrase to strangers or other people you don’t know well.

Alternatively, you might use baka mitai more seriously to express criticism or skepticism of a situation (but hopefully not your boss!):

Sono purojyekuto wa baka mitai da naa.
That project looks totally ridiculous.

Baka mitai: Ridiculous/Dumb

Below, let’s take a look at some more examples of how baka mitai is used.

To make it easier for you, I have written each sentence in full Japanese kanji in the first line, followed by roman letters (romaji), and hiragana, with the English meaning coming last.

Aitsu, nani wo yatterunda. Maji de baka mitai.
What the hell is he doing? He really looks foolish.

Sonna uso wo shinjiteta watashi wa baka mitai datta.
I was so foolish to believe such a lie.

Otousan ni baka mitai da to okorareta.
My dad got mad with me, saying I looked like a fool.

Why example sentences?

Learning Japanese can seem like a daunting task at first. The grammar and forms of politeness are very different from what English native speakers are used to.

You also have three distinct writing systems to get the hang of. I know it was difficult for me when I started out in 2005. But don’t let the kanji fool you! Like any language, Japanese is conquered one word at a time.

Example sentences are a big part of how I achieved fluency and became a professional translator. That’s why I’m writing this series of articles to break down new words in simple terms. I hope they will be useful.

A couple of bonus tips

Here are a couple of additional pointers to supercharge your learning.

1. Learn new vocabulary terms with example sentences
It’s much easier to remember the meaning of a new word within a sentence rather than in isolation. Use sites such as Linguee to find helpful examples for the term you want to learn.

2. Focus on verbs first and foremost.
Verbs will allow you to quickly construct your own sentences so they should be the main part of your study early on. You can always learn the Japanese for pencil sharpener when you actually need it.