Japanese word: 良さげ・よさげ (yosage)

By | November 8, 2022

In this post I’d like to go over the meaning, origin, and usage of the word “yosage”, which can be written either in full hiragana (よさげ) or in a mix of kanji and hiragana (良さげ). This word can be a bit confusing since you might think the verb “sageru” (to lower) is related, though it turns out to have no connection to that.

Each of the characters in “yosage” have their own meaning, let’s look at each of them one at a time.

First there is よ (“yo”). This actually comes from よい (yoi), which is a word that means “good”, though you may be more familiar with the word いい (ii) that has the same meaning.

Next is the さ (“sa”). While “sa” can serve as a  sentence-ending particle, in this case it has a completely different role. “Sa” can also be used to make a noun out of an i-adjective. For example, 可愛い (kawaii) means “is cute” but  可愛さ (kawaisa) means “cuteness”. You can also add “sa” after na-adjectives for the same effect (“sutekisa” = wonderfulness).

Finally we have げ (ge). This one is perhaps the trickiest to guess. It turns out this is a transformation of 気 (ki), a word/character that has many meanings including “energy”, “feeling”, “air” and “attention”. The “ki” sound can be transformed into either “ke” (as in “hakike” = “nautious”) or “ge” (as in “yosage”).

So what happens when we put these three things together? Literally, we end up with something like “goodness feeling”, which can be rephrased as “seemingly good”. This is roughly equivalent with the expression いい感じ (“ii kanji” = “good feeling”). More specifically, this means that the speaker/writer feels or thinks something is good.

Here is a simple sentence:

  • これは良さげだね (kore wa yosage da ne)
  • This seems good.

Also, it turns out “yosage” is a na-adjective, so we can use it like this:

  • 何か良さげな本あった? (nanika yosage na hon atta?)
  • Were there any books that seemed good?

While at first “yosage” may seem strange, as you start to see it in use and try using it yourself, I think you’ll soon discover how useful it can be.

I should point out, however, that while this word isn’t rude, it is a bit informal/casual. So you can use it in daily life, but I wouldn’t suggest using it in a formal setting (like at work), or in a formal written report. Of course, it depends on who the audience is and your relationship with them. 

The word 良さそう (yosasou), which is essentially a synonym of “yosage” feels a little less casual to me, so in more formal settings I would recommend that.

“Sage” can also be added to other words for similar effect, like なさげ (nasage), which means “seems to not exist”.

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