The other day, I overheard two gyaru (ギャル, gals, i.e., fashion-conscious girls) talking, but I had no idea what they were saying.
“Oh my goodness! I was doing KS! I gotta reply now!”
What is KS? The hint is that the girl was doing something with her sumaho (スマホ, smartphone).
KS, pronounced “kei esu,” is short for kidoku surū (既読スルー, literally “already read through,” but in this case meaning that a text message you’ve received has been marked as read, but you haven’t replied).
KS is the most popular of 10 new gyaru-go (ギャル語, gal language) words introduced in the August edition of the monthly fashion magazine Koakuma Ageha (小悪魔アゲハ, Little Devil Ageha).
The birth of the term KS stems from the popularity of the smartphone application Line, which offers free text-messaging services and cute character stickers/icons that users can use instead of words. Line also sends automatic “read” receipts, so senders know whether recipients have opened a text message or not.
Gyaru — generally girls in their teens or early 20s, with tanned skin, brown or blond hair and makeup that makes their eyes look big — are ingenious in coming up with new words and gyaru-go is constantly evolving. Gyaru are also good at picking up a current issue and turning it into new terminology.
In the No. 2 spot on Koakuma Ageha’s list is yababa (やばば), which is a variation of yabai (やばい, dangerous, in trouble or awfully cool). According to the magazine, yababa is cuter and looser than yabai. For even more yabai situations, you can say yabababa or use as many ba as you want to describe how deep in trouble you are.
Yaguru (ヤグる, literally “to do what Mari Yaguchi did,” but actually meaning getting caught in the act of cheating) is third in the Top 10 new gyaru-go.
Mari Yaguchi (30), a short, baby-faced aidoru (アイドル, idol), popular among gyaru for being kawaii (可愛, cute), reportedly had an affair and was hachiawase shita (鉢合わせした, caught in the middle of the act) by her husband when she was in bed with a younger man at home. The news hakkaku shita (発覚した, came to light) in late May.
Yagurareru (ヤグられる) can be used in a similar manner. An example sentence would be: Kiiteyo! Kareshi ni yaguraretan dakedo! (聞いてよ！彼氏にヤグられたんだけど!, Listen! I caught my boyfriend in the act of cheating on me!).
Gyaru often create new words by adding the syllable ru to the end of a noun in order to convert it into a verb.
No. 4 in Koakuma Ageha’s list is nyantsuku (にゃんつく, roughly meaning “flirting”). The word is a combination of nyan, the Japanese word for meow, and tsuku, another suffix that turns a noun into a verb.
Koakuma Ageha describes examples of nyantsuku acts, including using an amai koe (甘い声, sweet voice), uwame zukai (上目遣い, upturned eyes) or sofuto tacchi (ソフトタッチ, soft touch) in situations such as gōkon (合コン, a matchmaking party).
Fifth in the ranking is hoshi (星, literally “star,” but meaning “high energy” in this case). The meaning comes from the character Mario of Nintendo’s “Super Mario Bros.” video game, who becomes invincible when he collects a star.
No. 6 in the list is pikumin (ぴくみん, a cute way of saying you went to the toilet, or had the urge to do so).
An example sentence is: Tabesugichatte kyō wa san pikumin shichattayo (食べ過ぎちゃって今日は３ピクミンしちゃったよ, I overate and did “number twos” three times today).
The seventh word on the list, toppogi (トッポギ), is an abbreviation of toppatsuteki ni Roppongi ni iku (突発的に六本木に行く, spontaneously going to Roppongi [a major entertainment district in Tokyo]).
An example of how this is used would be: Toppogi de ōru shita (トッポギでオールした, I went to Roppongi on a whim and stayed out all night). Oru shita is also slang that many Japanese people may not immediately understand.
No. 8 is obierū (おびえる～, scared). This is not a new word, but gyaru tend to overuse it, rather than using the far more common word kowai (怖い, scared).
The ninth most popular gyaru-go word, dekishi (溺死), is an abbreviation of dekiai shisugite shinu (溺愛しすぎて死ぬ, to love something or someone so much that you could die).
One must be very careful not to confuse this with the real, nonslang meaning of dekishi, which uses the exact same kanji (溺死, death by drowning).
An example sentence is: Uchi no tiara kawaisugite maji dekishi nandakedo! (うちのティアラかわいすぎてマジ溺死なんだけど!, My tiara is so damn cute, I love it so much I could die!).
Finally, No. 10 is zairu (ザイる, meaning “to be similar to all-guy group Exile”). Zairu is, in a way, an abbreviation of Eguzairu mitai ni naru (エグザイルみたいになる, to become like Exile). Exile members are stylish, nicely tanned and well built.
An example of this used in a sentence would be: Anoko no kareshitte ano zaitteru hito deshō? (あの子の彼氏ってあのザイってる人でしょ? Her boyfriend is that guy who looks like he’s in Exile, isn’t he?).
When the subject of zairu is a girl, the meaning becomes, “hanging out with guys with Exile style.” For example: Kinō zaitta (昨日ザイった, Yesterday I hung out with a guy [or guys] who looked he’s in Exile).
Koakuma Ageha is a glossy monthly magazine targeting girls in their late teens and early 20s. Approximately 90 percent of its content is consists of makeup and fashion tips.