Word of the Week: バタバタ (bata bata)

Posted: 7th April 2022

Hello and welcome to the Ippo Ippo Japanese Word of the Week!

This week's word is...


Bata bata

What does it mean?

バタバタ (bata bata) has a few meanings, so we're going to focus on the most useful: hectic. For example:

  • バタバタしている (bata bata shiteiru) - I'm hectic/things are hectic
  • 最近はちょっとバタバタしている (saikin wa chotto bata bata shiteiru) - I'm a bit hectic lately/things are a bit hectic recently
  • 仕事がバタバタしている (shigoto ga bata bata shiteiru) - work is hectic

Other meanings of バタバタ (bata bata) include a clattering noise or a commotion, so I always think of it meaning that you're rushing around, bashing into things and making a racket as you try and get to the next task!

Why use バタバタ (bata bata)?

If you've been learning Japanese for a while, you might start to feel like you're using the same kinds of words over and over. I certainly feel like that sometimes!

When you catch up with a friend or your Japanese teacher and they ask how you are, you might up till now have said "忙しいです" (isogashii desu) - I'm busy.

Now, with バタバタ (bata bata), you can mix things up!

バタバタ (bata bata) is a type of オノマトペ (onomatope) - onomatopoeia, of which there is *a lot* in Japanese. Using onomatope is a great way to add variety to your language and express your feelings better.

See if you can use バタバタ (bata bata) in conversation, a diary entry or social media post this week!

Top Tip: Other Words for "Busy"

Don't forget: both バタバタ (bata bata) and 忙しい (isogashii) can only be used to talk a person being busy. If you want to talk about a busy place, you can use:

  • にぎやか (nigiyaka) - busy, bustling (e.g. a town or festival)
  • 混んでいる (kondeiru) - busy, packed (e.g. a shop or train carriage)

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