The meaning of chotto matte (ちょっと待って) in Japanese

This article will give you all the info you need on the Japanese phrase chotto matte, including its Japanese definition and translation, usage, example sentences, alternative expressions and more!

What does chotto matte mean?

The Japanese expression chotto matte (ちょっと待って、ちょっとまって) means “wait a moment” or “wait a second”. Breaking this phrase down, matte is the command form for the verb matsu (待つ), to wait. Chotto means a little bit. Therefore, the word words give us something like wait a little bit.

Like in English, you might also say chotto matte to mean “woah, now hold on a moment!” when you’re surprised by something you just heard and want to get some clarification.

Softening the tone with “ne”

Chotto matte means wait a moment in Japanese.

Adding the ne (ね)particle to the phrase softens its tone. Chotto matte ne sounds a little bit gentler. It’s equivalent to just bear with me a second.

Chotto matte kudasai: The polite version

Although chotto matte is a common Japanese phrase, it’s not all that polite. It is fine with friends and family, but you will want something a little more respectful when talking to your boss, for example.

The simplest way to make this expression more polite is to add the word kudasai (ください or 下さい), which means please.

Accordingly, chotto matte kudasai means please wait a moment. As it’s more polite, you can use chotto matte kudasai with strangers, people older than you, workmates, and so on. It’s a useful phrase to have in your Japanese toolbox.

Finally, shou shou omachi kudasai (少々お待ちください) is the keigo (honorific) version of the phrase. It also means please wait, but is considerably more formal and highly respectful. This form be used toward clients or important business partners.

Example sentences using chotto matte

Below, we look at some examples of how you can use chotto matte in Japanese, as well as the other alternatives we have learned.

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

Chotto matte. Sugu ni iku.
Wait a second. I’ll be right there.

Kakunin suru kara chotto matte.
Wait a moment. I’ll check.

E? Chotto matte! Souji wo shita tte itta yo ne?
Huh? Now hold on a moment! You did say you did the cleaning, right?

Examples with the “ne” softener

Chotto matte ne. Mou tsuku yo.
Wait a second. I’m arriving now.

Chotto mate ne. Shiriai ga iru kamoshirenai.
Wait a second. I might know someone.

Polite examples

Chotto matte kudasai. Ima kara mukaimasu.
Wait a moment please. I’ll head there now. (normal politeness)

Oisogi no tokoro kyoushuku desu ga, shoushou omachi kudasai.
Excuse me, I know you are in a hurry. Please kindly wait a little while. (keigo level politeness)

Other expressions

Chotto matta (ちょっと待った) = Wait a minute. The meaning is similar to matte, but this form is stronger and expresses more urgency.

Oi, chotto matta! Nani shiteru no?
Hey you, wait a minute! What are you doing?