Vocabulary list: Being sick in Japanese

By | April 19, 2016

Nobody loves being sick, but there is nothing worse than being sick except being sick where you can’t express how you feel to those around you.

This vocabulary list is about words related to not feeling well, and about getting better (the doctor, etc.) Many of them I have used myself in the real world.

I hope this list will be useful since often the details about being sick are left out from media like movies and novels unless it is critically important to the plot.

Note: some of these words listed as nouns can be used as verbs with “する” (ex: 採血、下痢、診断, 完治 etc.)

  • 顔色が悪い (kaoiro ga warui): (you) don’t look too good  [literally: face color is bad]
  • 風邪をひく(kaze wo hiku): to catch a cold    [Do not confuse with 風 which is pronounced ‘kaze’ but means ‘wind’)
  • 気持ち悪い (kimochi warui): to not feel good  [Technically not a verb, this phrase means something like “feelings are bad”]
  • 病気(byouki): sick  [Often refers to a more serious illness]
  • 重い (omoi): serious, as in a serious illness  [literally: “heavy”]
  • 精神病気 (seishin byouki): mental illness
  • 体調 (taichou): body condition    [Can be used to refer to illness or some other good or bad condition. Ex: 最近、体調が悪い]
  • 具合 (guai): condition [commonly used to refer to health condition, ex: 具合はどう? = ‘how are you feeling’]
  • 症状 (shoujou): symptoms(s) of an illness [ex: runny nose, etc.]
  • 下痢 (geri): diarrhea
  • くしゃみをする (kushami wo suru): to sneeze
  • 頭痛がする (zutsuu ga suru): to have a headache  [偏頭痛 = migraine headache]
  • 気絶する (kizetsu suru): to pass out
  • 鼻が詰まってる (hana ga tsumatteru): nose is blocked
  • 鼻づまり (hanazumari): nose congestion
  • 吐き気がする  (hakike ga suru): to feel nautious
  • ゲロを吐く (gero wo haku):  to throw up, vomit    [can be used without “gero wo” part]
  • 寒気がする (samuke ga suru): to have chills
  • 目眩がする (memai ga suru): to feel dizzy
  • 熱 (netsu): a fever    [熱がある = “to have a fever”]
  • 体温計 (taionkei): thermometer
  • だるい (darui): languid, sluggish
  • ぐったりする (guttari suru): very tired or fatigued (similar to だるい)
  • 鼻が垂れる(hana ga tareru):  to have a runny nose
  • 鼻水が出る (hanamizu ga deru):  to have a runny nose   [hanamizu = snot]
  • 咳をする (seki wo suru): to cough
  • 薬 (kusuri): medicine or drug
  • うがい薬 (ugaigusuri): mouthwash or gargle
  • 飲み薬 (nomigusuri): medicine that you drink
  • 粉薬 (konagusuri): powered medicine
  • 塗り薬 (nurigusuri): medicine you put on the skin, lotion
  • 処方箋 (shohousen): medical prescription
  • 病院 (byouin): hospital or a doctor’s office
  • レントゲン (rentogen): X-ray
  • 血 (chi): blood
  • 血液 (ketsueki): blood
  • 血液型 (ketesuekigata): blood type    [used in Japan for characterizing different personality types]
  • 注射 (chuusha): a shot [with medicine, etc.]
  • 採血(saiketsu): blood sample
  • 血液検査 (ketsueki kensa) : blood test
  • 顕密検査 (kenmitsu kensa) : detailed test  [may require a blood sample]
  • 診断 (shindan): diagnosis, examination
  • お医者さん (oishasan): doctor
  • お医者さんに診てもらう [Oishasan ni mite morau]: to be seen by a doctor   [Note the kanji for “miru” is different than the usual “to see” (見る)]
  • 看護婦さん (kangofusan): Nurse
  • 看病する (kanbyou suru): to take care of a sick person
  • 手術 (shujutsu): operation   [also オペ]
  • アポ (apo): appointment     [Ex: アポを取る = “make an an appointment”]
  • 持病 (jibyou): chronic illness
  • 仮病 (kebyou): faked illness
  • 寝たきり (netakiri): bedridden
  • 長くない (nagakunai): literally “not long”, but often used to refer to someone who doesn’t have much time before they will die due to some illness
  • 治る (naoru): to get cured
  • 完治 (kanchi): a full recovery
  • 治療 (chiryou): treatment
  • 回復する (kaifuku suru): to recover
  • 安静する (ansei suru): to rest, relax
  • 再発する (saihatsu suru): to relapse
  • 初期 (shoki): early stage of an illness
  • 中期 (chuuki): middle stage of an illness
  • 末期 (makki): final/terminal stage of an illness
  • 救急車を呼んでください  (kyuukyuusha wo yonde kudasai):  please call an ambulance
  • 119: emergency hotline in Japan, similar to ‘911’ in the US.
  • 入院する(nyuuin suru): to be admitted to a hospital
  • 退院する (taiin suru): to be discharged from a hospital
  • 薬局 (yakkyoku): drug store
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2 thoughts on “Vocabulary list: Being sick in Japanese

  1. Maxie Pickert

    Thanks for this great article! It’s important in Japan. I would like to add the discussion that it’s very difficult for foreigner to go to the doctor. Being sick, makes it much more difficult to speak Japanese. Ask a Japanese friend for help or ask an interpreter. Always take care of your health!


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