What Are Some Japanese Honorifics for Women?


Quick Answer

The most immediate example of a Japanese female honorific is "-chan," which refers to both children and female family members. Other honorifics that may refer to women are "-san," "-senpai" or "-sensei," although these terms are not gender-specific like "-chan" can be.

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Full Answer

The Japanese use honorifics quite prominently in their language, and it is rare to be spoken to in Japanese without the use of one. Using titles correctly is very important in Japan, and not using them is considered very poor manners.

The honorific "-san" implies some familiarity, and tends to be the most common honorific in use in Japan. It is used widely for anything from mister, to missus or miss, but it could also be applied to a characteristic of a person, such as calling someone "Mister Librarian," or something to that effect. When other honorifics are more fitting, such as in more formal situations, it is best to avoid the use of "-san," although it is a good fallback.

A good comparison to remember is that teachers call male students by "-kun," while they call female students using "-chan" or "-san." The use of "-chan" toward a woman that is not family can be considered rude or overly familiar, although not to any excessive degree.

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