The meaning of yume (夢) in Japanese and how to use it

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

What does yume mean?

Yume (夢、ゆめ) means dream in Japanese. As in English, the meaning of yume can be either literal (a dream you actually had last night, for example) or figurative (your dreams for the future). Yume is a noun, and is not to be confused with yumei (有名、ゆうめい), which means famous!

Below, we will take a look at some examples of how to use this word, the difference between yume and yumei, and two other useful Japanese expressions that incorporate yume.

Yume is the Japanese word for dream.

Yume = Dream

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.

Kanojo no yume wa kanatta.
Her dream came true.

Yuube wa naze ka, hanabi no yume wo mimashita.
For some reason, I dreamed about fireworks last night.

Shourai no yume wa nani?
What is your dream for the future?

Ore no yume wa bokusaa ni naru koto da.
My dream is to become a boxer.

Ii (note: double-i) yume mite ne.
Sweet dreams!

Warui yume = Nightmare

Warui yume (悪い夢, わるいゆめ) means nightmare in Japanese. The adjective warui means bad, so warui yume is literally a bad dream.

Kinou no yoru wa warui yume wo mita.
I had a nightmare last night.

Daijyoubu da yo. Tada no warui yume dakara.
It’s OK. It was just a bad dream.

Yume vs yumei: How to tell them apart

Yume is the Japanese word for dream.

When you first come across them, it might seem that yume (dream) and yumei (famous) sound pretty similar. In fact, these are completely different words that beginners easily confuse. So how do you distinguish between the two?

When spoken aloud, the yu- sound in yume is shorter than in yumei, where it is more drawn out. It might be more accurate to write the latter as yuumei to represent this difference.

When written in Japanese, of course, the kanji are completely different (夢 and 有名) so you’re unlikely to confuse them when reading.

Here’s a couple of examples of their totally different meanings. Note that yumei (famous) usually comes with -na (な) before the noun to become yumei na.

Okaasan no yume wa ninki no YouTuber ni naru koto.
My mother’s dream is to become a popular YouTuber.

Okaasan wa yuumei na YouTuber ni natta.
My mother became a famous YouTuber.

Yume mitai: Like a dream

The common expression yume mitai means like a dream. You might use this when something is so fun or amazing that it feels unreal. In English, one equivalent expression is I can’t believe it!

Sugoku tanoshii. Yume mitai!
It’s so fun. Like a dream!

Kare ni puropouzu sareta toki, yume mitai datta.
When my boyfriend proposed to me, I couldn’t believe it.