The meaning of kirai (嫌い) in Japanese and how to use it

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

What does kirai mean?

The Japanese word kirai (嫌い、きらい) means hate or strongly dislike. It has the opposite meaning to suki (好き), which means like. Naturally, kirai is a strong word, so Japanese will often use other terms such as suki jyanai (好きじゃない, don’t like) or nigate (苦手, dislike) that are a bit softer in tone.

Below, we take a look at some examples of how to use kirai in Japanese.

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.

Example sentences using kirai

Kirai means hate or loathe in Japanese.

Sono hito ga kirai!
I hate him! (lit: I hate that person!)

Watashi wa nattou ga kirai desu.
I hate natto.

Kare wa souji ga kirai rashii.
Apparently he loathes cleaning.

Benkyou wa suki dakedo, suugaku wa kirai.
I like studying, but I can’t stand math.

Jibun no karada ga sugoku kirai desu.
I really hate my own body.

Kirai na wake jyanai kedo, suki de mo nai.
It’s not that I hate it, but I don’t like it either.

Daikirai = Really hate

Daikirai (大嫌い、だいきらい) means really hate or detest. The kanji characters spell it out literally – big (大) and hate (嫌). Bear in mind, kirai is already a strong word by Japanese standards, so daikirai is for when you really, really want to announce your loathing of something to the whole world!

Ano obasan ga daikirai!
I really hate that (older) woman!

Toning it down: Go softer and indirect

Japanese people are generally pretty reserved by nature. Especially when talking about negative things with colleagues or strangers. The Japanese language reflects these tendencies. Therefore, you may want to tone down your own language to match your Japanese counterparts. That is, unless you want to be the stereotypical foreigner who ignores the unwritten societal rules!

As mentioned above, terms like suki jyanai and nigate are good ways to soften your language. You can also add a kamoshirenai (かもしれない) at the end of the sentence or kamo (かも; casual), which literally mean maybe. Another possible choice is chotto (ちょっと), which stands for kind of in this context. These words all make the statement more indirect.

Ryouri wa oishii kedo, omise no funiki wa amari suki jyanai kamo.
The food is nice, but I don’t really like the atmosphere of the place.

Nigate na ryouri wa pakuchii desu.
I’m not a big fan of cilantro.