J-WOTD: 二枚目 (にまいめ)

nimaime kabuki
二枚目 or nimaime is the handsome guy here ↑


* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

For some reason, the Japanese language has many words to describe good looking men. かっこいい, ハンサム, イケメン, 美少年, and Kansai-ben’s 男前 are quite a selection, proving that Japanese can be more expressive that English when it comes to certain things. This means that there are either a lot of good looking men in Japan, or there are a lot of empty compliments being tossed around. Either way…

One more humorous way of calling another man attractive is to say that he is nimaime or “二枚目”. Taken apart, this seems to be an odd expression at first. Literally, it means “The second sheet/ board”. However, when it means handsome, the expression originates from Kabuki (as does 男前). On signs outside the Kabuki theatre, the main actor’s name would be on the first page, and the “beautiful male” role (the sexy actor who has his face painted white, or the 顔を白くぬった色男の役) would be featured on the second page. Thus, “二枚目” came to mean any good-looking man.

A humorous extension to this expression is to call someone (or yourself) “三枚目”. This refers to the actor who played the role of the clown (name on the thrid page of course), and is sure to bring laughter to any conversation that starts out with a “二枚目”

One thought on “J-WOTD: 二枚目 (にまいめ)”

  1. I had heard this word used lots (about me actually.. *blush*). I never thought about where it could have came from, and never really wondered. It’s funny how terms like this originate. I have a few more that would be good WOTDs for you. I’ll write them up, and you can use if you like.

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