The meaning of zettai (絶対) and how to use it

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

What does zettai mean?

Zettai (絶対、ぜったい) means absolute or unconditional in Japanese. In negative sentences, it is roughly equivalent to never or no way.

However, the actual English equivalent will depend on the context. Quite often it can mean something like I’m sure that, without a doubt or definitely. While many Japanese words tend to be quite flexible, this is especially true for zettai.

If you find yourself wondering what it stands for in a given sentence, the main thing to remember is that zettai is used to strongly emphasize a point. Over time, you will naturally begin to understand how to use it.

Let’s take a look at some examples below.

Zettai means absolute, unconditional, or definite in Japanese.

Zettai = absolute, unconditional

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.

Paatei ni oide yo. Zettai tanoshii kara!
Come to the party, will you? It’s definitely going to be fun!

Kare no koto nara zettai daijyoubu dayo.
I’m sure it’ll be okay if he is handling it.

Zettai makenai zo!
There’s no way I’m gonna lose!

Ayashii kaisha dakara zettai yameta hou ga ii desu.
It’s a sketchy company, so you should definitely avoid getting involved with them.

Zettai ni = Absolutely/definitely

Zettai ni (絶対に、ぜったいに) makes zettai into an adverb meaning absolutely or definitely (note that, again, English grammar does not always match up precisely). This is actually the most common way to use zettai, so let’s look at how to use it.

Zettai ni wasurenaide!
Never forget!

Kore kara wa mou zettai ni uso wo iwanai kara shinyou shite yo.
From now on, I won’t ever lie again so please trust me.

Watashitachi ga chiimu wo kundara zettai ni umaku iku.
If we team up it will definitely go well.

Zettai means absolute, unconditional, or definite in Japanese.

Zettai dame/zettai muri = No way!

Zettai dame (絶対ダメ、ぜったいだめ) means absolutely not or no way. It’s a strong way of telling someone you don’t want to do something. Zettai muri (絶対無理、ぜったいむり) is another common phrase that means the same thing.

Nee nee, ima kara kouen ni ikanai?
Hey, do you want to go to the park now?

Zettai dame. Kyou wa samusugi daro!
No way. It’s too cold today!

Hiro kun ni deito ni sasowareta kedo, zettai muri!
Hiro asked me out on a date, but there’s no way that’s happening!