Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Finger for medicine.

Do you know how you call each finger in Japanese?

First, finger is (yubi) in Japanese.

Thumb : 親指 (oya yubi)
(parents finger)
Thumb is the biggest finger, so it’s like parents (…actually father).

Index finger : 人差し指 (hitosashi yubi)
(finger to point person)
When you point someone, you use this finger.
(Actually, this action is rude though!)

Middle finger : 中指 (naka yubi)
(middle finger)
Yes, middle finger is the middle of the fingers.

Ring finger : 薬指 (kusuri yubi)
(medicine finger)
When you use medicine (application), you should use ring finger, because you usually don’t use this finger, so the finger is the cleanest.

Little finger : 小指 (ko yubi)
(small finger)
Little finger is the smallest finger.

Also there is a different way for describing fingers for children.

Thumb : お父さん指 (otoosan yubi)
(father finger)

Index : お母さん指 (okaasan yubi)
(mother finger)

Middle : お兄さん指 (oniisan yubi)
(older brother finger)

Ring : お姉さん指 (oneesan yubi)
(older sister finger)

Little : 赤ちゃん指 (akachan yubi)
(baby finger)

These are cute, aren’t they? :)

How do you call fingers in your language?


  1. Well there are a few things that we use outside of the descriptions you've given.

    Sometimes in Engish, the Index finger is called your Pointer finger, because, well, you point with it.

    The middle finger doesn't have a special name for it by itself, but it has its own phrases that aren't nice things to say. Depending on the age of the slang, it could be giving someone "the finger", or "flipping the bird", or "flipping someone off". All of these associate with leaving only the middle finger extended with the other fingers curled up and pointed at someone, which is very offensive. I know my old Japanese teacher used to point with that finger during class. Sometimes he'd point at us with it! I of course laughed, since he didn't know what it meant, but some people got mad at him, so we explained what it meant and he was so embarrassed he apologized to the whole class the next day. Scary finger, the middle one.

    The Ring finger, well, is called that because you put your wedding ring on your left hand on that finger.

    We call the "little finger" your Pinky finger. I don't know why we call it that though.

    Some what related, when you say someone is good at gardening, you can say they have a "green thumb". It originates with a children's story about a troll that made things grow anywhere because he had a green thumb and whatever that thumb touched grew some kind of plant or flower. The opposite of that is a "brown thumb", which is not to be confused with someone who is a "brown nose".

  2. My wife likes to point with the middle finger also..... Hmmmm?

    Is pointing with the middle finger more polite than pointing with the index finger in japan?

  3. I don't think pointing someone or something with the middle finger is common in Japan.

    Life in the superStructure , I guess your wife have some reasons for using the middle finger.
    For example, pointing person with the index is rude or something llike that.
    Using the middle finger for pointing is not common, but it's not rude in Japan.

    By the way, I read that you should use the thumb for pointing something instead of the index in Malaysia.
    Using the index is rude.
    Is that true!??


    >when you say someone is good at gardening, you can say they have a "green thumb".

    This is cute. (^o^)

    What is "brown nose" ?

  4. >What is "brown nose" ?

    A "brown nose" is another insult you can say about someone. Usually used in the workplace. When you have a fellow co-worker that always kisses up to the boss, (ie. no matter what the boss did, the employee always praises him even if the boss messes up or something) you can call that person a "brown nose". The idea here is that this person kisses the boss's butt so much, his nose is brown from the...well, you get the picture. Its really rude for that reason, so it isn't used in polite conversation

  5. Akiko-san,

    I came across your blogspot through my friend's as she reads it daily. It's fun and it's good! I intend to read yours as frequently as I can. Thanks! Ganbatte gudaisaine!

  6. Akiko -

    Enjoying the site.

    I've had to sing the "family fingers" song at shogakko and I laugh a little each time I see a group of 30 8-year-olds waving around their middle fingers at each other.

    Brown nose is kinda like the Japanese expression where you make the circular grinding motion with your hands - can't remember how to say it in Japanese.

    I have a few students named "Yuki" and I always thought their name simply meant "snow."


  7. >Jair

    Thank you very much for your explanation for "brown nose".
    Yes, it doesn't sound nice expression...
    But it's interesting to know this kind of expressions.
    Do women use this expression, too?
    w(゜O゜) w


    Thank you for your nice comments.
    I'm very glad to know that some people often read my blog .
    Hope you enjoy my blog.
    Ganbarimasu!! (^o^)/

    >Jason H.

    > you make the circular grinding motion with your hands

    That's ごまをする (goma o suru), right!?
    This means playing up to someone... I mean "brown nose". (^ ^;)

    >I have a few students named "Yuki" and I always thought their name simply meant "snow."

    Actually there are a lot of different kanji for the name "Yuki".
    So the meaning is depend on the kanji.
    Also Yuki is a lovely name, so some parents give them the name just for the sound. (^ ^)

  8. >Do women use this expression, too?

    Yep. Intrestingly enough, at least here in the parts of America i've been in, some of the most rude and vulgar things you'll hear are said are from a woman rather than a man.

    I do agree these are interesting to know, although, hopefully the next one I can remember isn't something with a negative meaning (^_^;;)

  9. I was looking at the kanji for the word "vulgar"....

    俗 vulgar ..... person and valley?

    were people from the valley area vulgar?

  10. >Jair

    Great news!!
    I want to try to use the expression "brown nose"!!
    Mybe not now... but sometime in the future....
    (^ ^;)

    >Life in the superStructure

    According to my dictionary, in this case, 谷 doesn't exactly mean valley.
    This part means "water ooze, pour".
    俗 means "people are in pouring water and soaking in the water".
    This describes "custom, practice".

    I think the English word "vulgar" is a little stronger than the Japanese word "俗".
    俗 (zoku) means "vulgar, civil, commonly, popularly etc." (^ ^)

    1. Anonymous3:57 AM

      The kanji 谷 is also used in a word 谷間( tanima )which also has a meaning of "cleavage" other than its literal meaning "ravine". So maybe the kanji itself has a some kind of nuisance of vulgarity in my opinion. And the kanji 俗 has a "ninben" meaning human as all know with the valley radical. So MAY be vulgarity can be etymologically hence derived.

  11. akiko>
    俗 means "people are in pouring water and soaking in the water".
    This describes "custom, practice".

    ok, I understand.

    but you know if people were visiting japan from Europe or North America, 100 or 200 years ago... and they saw people in public bathing or soaking in water nude... they would think it was vulgar.

    I think Japanese also thought people from other countries were vulgar for not bathing more.... right?

  12. I think '下品' would be a good expression for 'vulgar'.

    And yes, I would consider 'brown nose' as vulgar. If you really have to, use 'apple polisher' or 'bootlicker' for ごまをする.

  13. >Life in the superStructure

    I guess there isn't relationship between the kanji 俗 and the prejudiced idea in the past, because the kanji was made in the old days compare to that. (^ ^)

    >Ole' Wolvie

    I was looking for a good word for "vulgar".
    下品 (gehin) is a common word and this excatly describes "vulgar", I think.

    I've heard the expression "apple polisher"!
    This is from school life or something... right!?
    That sounds cute and seems much "safer" to use. (^ ^;)

  14. "apple polisher" has the same idea, but with less intensity. Its still a not nice thing to say, but if you put it in the right context, I'm sure you can make it lighter if you really wanted to.

  15. I see... I don't want to be rude, so I'll be careful to use those expressions!
    Thank you for your advise!

  16. Another interesting aspect of fingers in Japan, is that of
    signifying gender in people. You
    can specify a boy/boyfriend using
    your thumb, and a girl/girlfriend
    using your pinky finger.

    I saw a nice example of this in a
    Japanese drama--across a
    crowded, noisy room,
    two men communicate about the sex
    of a newborn baby. The one
    alternates holding up his thumb and
    pinky to say, "was it a boy? agirl?"
    The other raises his thumb--"it's a

  17. >You can specify a boy/boyfriend using your thumb, and a girl/girlfriend using your pinky finger.

    Oh, I forgot mentioning it for this blog!!
    Especially for describing boyfriend/girlfriend you use your thumb and pinky finger.
    Actually recently we don't use the sign so often, but people still understand the meanings. (^ ^)

    Do you have any aspect for describing boyfriend/girlfriend in your country?

  18. > Do you have any aspect for
    > describing boyfriend/girlfriend
    > in your country?
    Recently people (in the US) say "SO",
    which means "Significant Other". I
    don't much care for this expression
    though (なぜか。).

    Other than that, everyone just says
    "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", I think!


  19. cbuathier@orange.fr6:57 PM

    french name for fingers, nursery rythme :
    Celui-çi le petit bonhomme (thumb)

    C'est mon gros pouce qu'il se nomme

    L’index qui montre le chemin (hito..yubi)

    C'est le second doigt de ma main

    Entre l'index et l'annuaire

    Le majeur parait un grand frère (naka yubi)

    L'annulaire porte un anneau (ringfinger)

    avec sa bague il fait le beau

    Le minuscule auriculaire (little finger)

    Suit partout comme un petit frère

  20. I think if you show your little finger to a guy in the UK it means you're saying he has a small cock. Finger gestures are so interesting aren't they!