I had a 1-1.5 hour to a seminar on using technology in the classroom in Hiroshima the other day, and during the car ride I got to thinking about the word “kakkoii” and how it’s used. Jisho.org describes it as:

Attractive; good-looking; stylish; “cool”

I was thinking that day how I really don’t have a cool word in [regular, spoken] English to describe what I want to say when I describe someone as “kakkoii.” The funny thing is, I don’t think I ever had a word I was satisfied with until I learned that one, haha.

The English equivalent that you might give out as slang is “hot”; however, I’ve never liked this word because it feels to me like that only refers to the person’s physical appearance, and it feels really shallow. I’ve heard people say “kakkoii” to refer to a person’s appearance, but also heard it used when someone delivers a line really well and they seem super cool, or does something really brave that looks really cool (like in a movie). But “cool” doesn’t feel as emphatic a word as “kakkoi,” while “kakkoii” doesn’t feel as degrading or single-minded as “hot.” (…to me, anyway. I am still a second language learner of Japanese, after all.)

The definition from Excite Jisho reads as follows:

見た目や言動が人に好印象を与える。かっこうがいい。かっこい。(“The appearance, speech & conduct (etc) leave a favorable impression.”)


When I try to describe, say, I actors I like, I always have to fall back on words like “good-looking” (which isn’t really slang, and in my opinion, people don’t really say that because it’s too long) or “cool” or “awesome” (which are…okay, but doesn’t say all that I want to say). Other words might be: “attractive” (uh…okay), “fine” (I feel stupid just writing this word, I don’t think I could say it seriously), and “beautiful” I was thinking how this word only really works for non-human beings, haha…let’s drop that). Is there a word I can use to say, “He was really cool, and the way he came in at just the right time during the movie and delivered his lines was really great”?


If someone comes up to me and says, “Sato Takeru is so hot!!” Then I’d respond with, “Yeah, he looked good in that movie,” or “Yeah, he was really cool!!” or “Yeah, I loved him, he acted so well!” But I wouldn’t actually say what they said back^^; Because I don’t like that word >< But if someone comes up to me and points to a picture and says “kakkoii ne~!” then I have no qualms about replying “desho~?” (“Right??”)

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