Tokyo Damage Report

chiisai tsu words!!

Japanese is – among language nerds – famous for its onomatopoeia! Words like GYUU or GERO GERO or TON TON, SHA SHA, BUU BUU, and so on. Sure, English has some onomatopoeia (slap, smack, drip, chop, etc.) but Japanese is positively crammed with ‘em. You can even buy textbooks that teach nothing but onomatopoeia Japanese. However, the onomatopoeia words have cousins which are just as numerous – but relatively unknown. Which is a shame, because the cousins are much much more kawaii. I’m talking, of course, about ‘chiisai tsu’ words: はっきり、 あっさり、 むっと、 がっかり and so on. What do these have in common – aside from being used the same way that onomatopoetic words are, to modify verbs? They all have this tiny mark: ! It’s a sort of pause in the middle of the word, that gives it some emphasis.
Usually you’ll see the ‘chiisai tsu’ in the middle of two-kanji words, like 出発 (しゅっぱつ) or  積極的 (せっきょくてき)。But in these cases, the chiisai tsu doesn’t have any point to it – it ‘s just a way to smooth the transition between the sounds of the two kanji that make up the word. When I talk about ‘chiisai tsu’ wors, I’m talking about words that operate like onomatopoeia, that look and function in similar words.
I love these words and I'm mad that they don't get the recognition they deserve. So  I sat down with my dictionary and read every single word, picking out all the ‘chiisai tsu’ words as I went along, and making my own dictionary. You could say it’s an obsession.

 I’m hoping that it will be used as a resource to some academics who are researching Japanese. Not sure how that would work!!!

Here’s how to read the database:
Column A: the word
Column B:  the English definition
Column C: the way Japanese ‘hear’ the word: some ‘chiisai tsu’ words are straight-up sound effects, like slam or bang. These are labeled SOUND. Other ‘chiisai tsu’ words are gitaigo (a more difficult concept – meaning, sound effects for emotional states that don’t actually make sounds). In fact, one could argue that almost ALL ‘chiisai tsu’ words are gitaigo. But I came up with an ingenious criteria: if a word is actually written as a sound effect in manga, it gets labeled 擬態語 (gitaigo), and if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.
Column D: the category – usually ‘chiisai tsu’ words are either ‘’ form or ‘’form.
Column E: synonyms. For extra nerd fun, check to see if words with similar meanings are also similar sounding.
Column F:  nothing.
Column G: Origin – this is the one that isn’t really properly done yet. A lot of these ‘chiisai tsuu’ words are contractions of non-chiisaii-tsu gitaigo – or contractions of other ‘chiisai tsu’ words!
Column H:  usually ‘chiisai tsu’ words have the ‘tsu’ after the first syllable. But words that have different structures are noted here.

download the 'chiisai tsu' dictionary  in excel format here.

あっけ depends on the particle! あっけに means 'taken aback, dumbfounded', but あっけない means 'all too soon.' .        
あっさり effortlessly .        
あっと The anecdotal form of あっ!, which means "ah!  Oh!" Etc. 擬態語        
あっぱれ well done! Bravo! Splendid! .         3r
あっぷ あっぷ! gasp for breath sound          
いっそ might as well just xxx! ..         3r
いっそう to get more and more xxx. .          
いっぱし pretty good, fairly useful .         3r
うっかり carelessly or inadvertently .        
うっとり spellbound 擬態語       wild
えいやっと the yell one gives when one throws something. sound        
えっ? huh? Wha? Duh? sound        
おっかない scary .          
おっつかっつ much the same, about equal to .         3r
おっと oops! Watch it! Oh! sound       3r
おっとり affable, aggreable, suave .        
おっぱい baby talk for boobies. .          
かっか your face turns red and you flip out at someone ..          
かっかと burn fiercely sound       3r
がっかり to be dissapointed or let down . sy      
かっきり exactly, precisely . s      
がっくり to feel crestfallen, hang one's head. Basically, you ARE がっくり because you HAD a がっかり experience. 擬態語 sy      
がっしり sturdy, solidly built, muscular . s      
かったるい listless, sluggish .       cont of ぐさりと 3r
がったん ごっとん clickety clack sound         3r
がっちり muscular .. s      
がっつく someone really eating the hell out of some food; someone who is flipping out over a fine girl/boy. Basically wanting something manically. .          
かっと lose one’s temper, flip out 擬態語       3r
がっぷり be locked in a battle clench. .       3r
がっぽり make a pile of money .        
がばっと a sitting or sleeping person springs to their feet 擬態語       3r
からっと crispy 擬態語        
きっかけ  a chance or opportunity .          
きっかり exactly, precisely (5:32 AM) – only used with time .. sy      
ぎっしり a lot of little things crammed into a space . sy      
ぎっちょ a very rude and not even used term for someone who is handicapped .          
きっちり  exactly, perfectly – a desk which is perfectly arranged with everything at 90 degree angles . sy      
きっと to act decisively, to make a swift, firm decision. .        
きっと #2 a sharp glance, a stern face ..        
きっぱり to act decisively, to make a swift, firm decision. .     cont of じわじわ 3r
ぎゃっ to yell or sqawk "Gya!" sound        
きゅうっと take a long drink 擬態語       3r
きゅっと sound of a rope being pulled taut; to feel a tug at one's heart, get a lump in one's throat sy      
ぎゅっと tie something tightly or firmly – stronger than きゅっと sy      
ぎょっと to jump because you're startled .        
きりっと a man who's dressed in  a very neat, glamourous fashion like James Bond or a movie star 擬態語 sy     3r
ぐいっと with a jerk, a sudden jump, to push something that's stuck and it comes loose with a jerk 擬態語        
ぐうっと to massage 擬態語       3r
ぐさっと stab! 擬態語       3r
ぐしゃっと to be crushed to pulp 擬態語       3r
くっきり distinctly, conspicuously 擬態語        
ぐっしょり soaking wet, sopping object – emphasis on how it's heavy because full of water . sy     3r
ぐっすり to have a good sleep ..        
ぐったり completely exhausted .        
くっつく to stick or adhere; to be clumped together .         3r
ぐっと to drink in one gulp; to increase markedly 擬態語        
くるっと to spin round 擬態語        
ぐるっと to surround someone 擬態語        
げっそり to lose a lot of weight; to dejected 擬態語        
けったい (な) strange .          
げっぷ burrrrp! sound          
けろっと casually, nonchalantly ..       3r
こざっぱり a man who is dressed in a very plain, conservative, but precise and neat fashion . sy     3r
こっくり nod one's head .        
ごっくん sound of swallowing sound          
こっそり secretly .        
ごっそり something that used to be 100% is now reduced or missing in a big way – 'The taxes took a big bite of the inheritance.' or, a guy with a full head of hair but now there's a quarter-sized bald spot right in the top of his head. . sy     3r
ごっちゃ confused, jumbled, mixed-up ..          
こってり thickly or heavily ; too-rich food .        
ころっと without a struggle 擬態語     cont of びりびり 3r
ざっくばらん frank, candid, outspoken .       cont of ピリ辛 3r
さっくり to mix ingredients lightly or carefully 擬態語       3r
ざっくり a corse-woven cloth ; to stab 擬態語        
さっさと immediately! Ususally used in commands: Move faster, you dogs!  . sy      
さっと quickly and easily do . sy   cont 3r
ざっと two meanings : 1)roughly speaking 2) doing something in a very loose, general fashion (as while killing time) ..       3r
さっぱり something which has been dirty for a long time (a room, some green teeth) which is now finally clean. . sy      
しーっ shh! sound        
しっかり hold on tight! .        
しっくり similar to 似合う – but not as strong. Less like "It suits you perfectly," more like "There's an absence of disharmony." It'll do. . sy      
じっくり carefully, deliberately, without haste .        
しっしっ shoo!! sound        
じっと fixedly or firmly stare .        
しっとり damp, or covered with morning dew; someone who is calm and collected .. s      
じっとり person who is damp with sweat or humidity (not rain). Or a rain forest which is damp with humid rain. 擬態語 sy      
しっぺい the sound of a slap on the wrist sound          
しっぽり be dripping wet . s      
しゃっきり refreshed . s      
しゃっくり hiccup .        
しゅっしゅっぽっぽ chug-chug, puff-puff sound   s     wild
しゅっぽ chug-chug, puff-puff sound   s      
しょっちゅう always, constantly .          
じわっと to seep or drip out 擬態語        
すっからかん totally out of something .          
すっかり to completely forget . sy      
すっきり to feel relieved ..        
すっくと stright, upright, erect .        
ずっこける to make a fool of one's self, to say absurd things .          
ずっしり heavily, profoundly 擬態語        
すったもんだ after a big fuss, after much wrangling .        
すってんころり head over heels 擬態語     not real  
すってんてん lose all one's money .          
すっと straight, quickly, but also: quietly,gently 擬態語        
ずっと continuously .        
すっぱり completely quit a bad habit 擬態語 sy    cont of そこそこ
すっぴん face with no make-up ..          
ずっぷり drenched with sticky stuff, for example mud or swamp-water or a 'skin treatment' clay bath . sy      
すっぽ かして to neglect to do a task. Break an appointment.  .          
すっぽり entirely, completely, snugly – like a fat person trying to escape through a bathroom window and getting stuck . sy      
すっぽり completely or snugly (wrapped)  擬態語        
すっぽんぽん go swimming naked!!!! .          
すぱっと to do something quickly and cleanly. Leave a job or a lover, for instance. 擬態語        
ずばっと getting to the heart of the matter; piercing something 擬態語        
せっかち hasty, impatiently .          
せっせと dilligently, to do some sort of work or study frequently 擬態語        
せっつく to pester .          
そーっと quietly, secretly 擬態語 sy     3r
ぞーっと shiver, shudder 擬態語 sy   var of ぞっと 3r
そっくり to look exactly like something else .        
ぞっこん from the bottom of my heart .       not real  
そっと quietly, secretly 擬態語 sy   var of そーっと  
ぞっと shiver, shudder 擬態語 sy      
そっぽ turn the other way .          
それっきり no more than that ; since then .        
それっと the moment that xxx happened, . . . .        
それっぽっち a little thing like that, merely that .         3r
たって urgent, pressing .          
たっぷり done enough of something – not like you're sick of it, more like you've sated your appetite for it. .        
ちくっ a twinge 擬態語        
ちっ tut-tut! sound        
ちっと not even a little (usually: ちっとも .        
ちっとも not at  all, not in the least .          
ちっぽけ tiny .          
ちゃっかり shrewd, calculating; nervy, cheeky ..        
ちょこっと a little bit .        
ちょっかい to meddle, to stick your nose in my business .          
ちょっとした not a bad xxx, a pretty good xxx, a slight or little xxx .         wild
ちょっぴり a tiny tiny wee bit .        
てっきり beyond a doubt .        
でっぷり stout, corpulent . s      
でれっと to slump down          
どかっと plop down into a chair all dramatically.  sound sy      
どきっと be startled, be shocked – more scary than just びっくり sound sy     3r
どさっと thud! 擬態語 sy     3r
どっかと plop something down, flop over, collapse into a chair sound sy   var of どかっと  
どっきり to be surprised、more playful than びっくり. Said while laughing. "You surprised me!" 擬態語 sy      
とっくり deliberately, carefully .        
どっこい now hold on a minute! Just a second there, buster! .          
どっこい hold on a damn minute! 擬態語          
どっこいしょ sound of someone making a grunt when they lift something or when they sit down .   s      
どっこいどっこい be about the same as, roughly equal to .   s     wild
どっさり a lot 擬態語        
どっしり cumbersome; imposing, substantial 擬態語        
とったり throwing one's martial arts opponent .        
どっち whichever, however ..          
どっと suddenly and all at once doing something (burst out laughing, suddenly sweep into a town) (usually used about many people doing something at once, although it can be used about one person, i.e. どっと got tired. 擬態語        
どっと burst out laughing; all at once , all together sound        
とっとと hurridely, at a brisk pace .        
とっぷり completely, entirely over. Bathtub is comletely full. Haven't heard this one used about anything else! . sy      
どっぷり to do too much of something – be in the bath for so long you're dizzy and can't get out.  To pour so much booze you get wasted. 擬態語        
とっほい cocky .          
とばっちり to be walking past a fight and be struck by a stray fist / kick .       3r
にこっと smile and nod a greeting 擬態語 sy   cont of にこにこ 3r
にっこり smile and nod a greeting – a bigger smile than just  にこっと 擬態語 sy      
にっと grin 擬態語        
ぬっと gross person or thing creeping up slowly but steadily around a corner, over your shoulder. 擬態語 sy      
ねっとり sticky, clammy, gooey 擬態語        
のっけ from the very start .          
のっしのっし to walk heavily – to lumber 擬態語          
のっそり と slugglishly 擬態語        
のっぺらぼう smooth or featureless (speech or face mask) .         wild
のっぺり flat, smooth, blank 擬態語        
のっぽ tall person! .          
ぱくっと snap up (the bait) – a gaping mouth of a beast as it suddenly opens and snaps up a morsel 擬態語       3r
ばさっと crash! sound        
はしっこい smart, shrewd; nimble or agile .          
ばしっと slap someone; snap at someone sound s     3r
ぱちっと small tiny crack or snap sound sy     3r
ばっかし to cancel an appointment, to sneak off .          
ばっかり Just, as in, “I JUST finished baking these cookies.” Or “I had JUST got home when I got a message from my boss telling me to go back to work.” .        
はっきり clearly, distinctly  .        
ぱっくり gape, a gaping hole or wound 擬態語 s      
ばっさり slash or cut something short 擬態語       wild
はっし baseball dude hits a fast ball 擬態語          
はったと glare at .        
はったり bluff .        
ばったり barely .        
ぱったり to come to a sudden stop .        
ばっちり no problem! Leave it to me! .       wild
ぱっちり bright, clear eyes 擬態語        
はっと to be shocked – the sound of a quick intake of air sound        
ぱっと a sudden flash of light 擬態語        
ぱっぱと doing something fast; spending recklessly sound        
ばりっと tear paper 擬態語       wild
ぱりっと super precisely arranged clothing – spit-shine, ironed, seams exactly a half-inch past the ankles, etc. 擬態語 sy     3r
びくっと give someone a start, to be startled 擬態語 sy   cont of びっくり
びしっ snap (a twig); snap at someone sound sy     3r
ぴしっ slap someone's face sound        
びしっと to hit something, to really wallop! To work like a demon. 擬態語        
ぴたっと one large(ish) thing that fits exactly into a small space 擬態語 sy      
ぴちっ tight-fitting 擬態語 sy   var of ぴっちり  
びっくり surprised 擬態語 sy      
びっしょり drenched, soaked through 擬態語 s   cont of びしょびしょ
びっしり more systematic than ぎっしり。 びっしり is more like a letter or sign with words crammed in every corner of it. 擬態語 sy      
ひっそり quiet, still, deserted .        
ぴったり to fit or suit exactly. Precisely. 擬態語 s      
ぴっちり tight or snug . s      
ひっぱたく to slap or spank .          
ひょっこり cute small animal suddenly pops up. Mole or prairie dog. .        
ひょっと do you happen to know?? By any chance, do you . . .? .     cont of ごちゃごちゃ
ひょっとこ twisted or contorted grimace .         wild
びりっけつ the lowest of the low .          
びりっと to vibrate as if you touched a live wire and got shocked 擬態語       wild
ぴりっと burning, spicy hot (from ピリ辛) .        
ぶすっと to be sullen, to sulk .     not real chisai tsuu
ぶっかき sound of ice cracking sound         wild
ふっくら plump or soft thing .   sy      
ぶっつけ unrehearsed, without preparation .          
ふっつり once and for all . s      
ぷっつり to snap, to sever all relations with someone 擬態語 s      
ふっと sudenly; the sound of a puff of air sound       not real chisai tsu
ぷっと burst out with some emotion (anger, laughter); spit out a seed .       wild
ふらっと casually or aimlessly, without purpose .        
ぶらっと to walk aimlessly, to have no place in particular to go, to drift .     cont of ぶらりと 3r
へったくれ to hell with it!!! .       cont of せき付く
べったり to be completely covered (a page covered in writing, no margins / swords covered in blood) to be a blind follower. . s   (from the gitaigo ベタ meaning, to be sticky)
ぺったり stronger version of べったり 擬態語 s      
べっとり covered with (blood, snot, oil) 擬態語        
へっぽこ charlatan, a quack .          
ぼうっと hazy, indistinct, vacantly, dizzy 擬態語       3r
ぽうっと to blush; to fall in love with ; to be stunned 擬態語 sy     3r
ぼーっと burst into flames: steam boat whistle; to be spaced-out sound s     3r
ぽーっと to blush; to fall in love with ; to be stunned 擬態語 sy   var of ぽうっと 3r
ぽかっと a hole is blasted in the earth – by lightning or an earthquake. A giant hole is opened in something sound sy     3r
ぼけっと doing nothing, staring vacantly into space . sy     3r
ぼさっと basically like ぼけっと, but used when you OUGHT to be doing something – like the red light turned green and you're spaced out and get honked at. . sy     3r
ぼそっと mutter in a tiny or mumbley voice 擬態語       3r
ぽっかり wide-open; floating gently 擬態語        
ぼっき sound of a penis turning into a boner 擬態語          
ぽっきり snap like a twig:  just, merely 擬態語 s      
ぽっくり suddenly die . sy      
ほっそり slender .        
ぼったくり extortion .        
ぼっち button or knob .          
ぽっち piddling, paltry .          
ぽっちゃり a little chubby or plump  . sy      
ぽっちり a little bit, a jot, a dash, a dollop .        
ぼってり plump – NOT like a fat person. But like food which is coated with a thick coating of icing, or a star's lips which are all swollen with collagen and half inch of lip-gloss. Or a really thick wool sweater. . sy      
ぽってり chubby or plump  . sy      
ほっと sigh of relief sound       wild
ぼっと burst into flames   擬態語 s      
ぽっと a slight blush 擬態語 s      
ほっとけ leave me alone! Quit it! .         3r
ぽっぽと to go puff-puff, chug-chug; to emit steam sound s      
ぼてっとした pudgy . s     3r
ぼやっと hazy, indistinct, vacantly, dizzy 擬態語 s     3r
まっしぐら headlong, at full speed .          
まったり to be mellow – to chill at your friend's house doing nothing. 擬態語        
みっしり small tiny things are crammed in a tiny spaces – roaches swarming in a crack, a crevice packed with moss, etc. . sy      
みっちり intensely, dilligently, rigorously. Usually used about training or study. 擬態語        
みっともない shameful, scandalous, disgraceful .         not real chisai tsu
みみっちい stingy or small-minded .          
むっくと to jump to one's feet 擬態語   s      
むっくり the posture or walking style of a short fat person ; someone who gradually wakes from sleep, head lolling around. .       3r
むっちり chubby and muscular at the same time – like some older wrestlers . sy      
むっつり moody, sulky, glum .        
むっと to get indignant 擬態語        
めっきり remarkably, considerably .        
もさっと slow-witted or clumsy 擬態語        
もっさり to move sluggishly or slow-motion ; to have a bushy head of hair .        
もっと more and more .        
やっかみ envy .          
やっかむ to resent .          
やった hooray! .          
やっと at last. .        
やっぱり as i thought! also means, "in the end. . . "  .        
やっほー yoo-hoo! sound          
ゆっくり at lesiure, slowly but in a good way. Take it easy .       wild
ゆったり loose .        
よっぽど to come very near to something bad happening. .          
わっしょ(い) the chisai-tsu version of よいしょ! Which is a noise you make when you exert your strength .          
わっと burst out cheering or crying.  sound        
10 comments Tags:

10 Comments so far

  1. Cecil August 8th, 2010 7:20 am

    a scholar and a gentleman!

  2. Daniel August 8th, 2010 8:23 am

    お疲れっす! Great reference!

  3. Bread August 8th, 2010 10:31 am

    This is totally badass but I get a 404 for the excel file :(

  4. admin August 8th, 2010 4:37 pm

    @bread: fixed the link!
    @all: thanks for reading – let me know if there’s any words that I missed.

  5. François August 9th, 2010 2:26 am

    Total radness.
    Some more shit:
    わっしょい!is also the one people use when lifting the mikoshi during festivals, along with せいや!and そいや!
    あっけ has kanji: 呆気, which do not seem to be 当て字
    ぼっき has kanji too: 勃起
    Other っ:
    ぎっくり腰 = a strained back
    すかっと (スカッと)= to feel better, to feel refreshed (kinda like すっきり)
    おっちょこちょい = scatterbrain
    もっこり is 方言, so probably not in the dictionary, but is quite famous since its use in City Hunter as a "sound" for a big boner. Supposedly means 元気 somewhere in Tohoku.

  6. moooo August 11th, 2010 5:09 am

    Thanks so much for this, i've always been looking for something like this.

  7. JapanSoc August 13th, 2010 5:02 pm

    Language Nerds Will Be Jumping Out Of Thier Seats!!…

    TDR makes an awesome excel sheet with words I didn’t know there were words for. He is a great man but his facial hair gives me the creeps….

  8. Alex August 14th, 2010 12:47 am

    Certainly the Japanese onomatopoeia are noticeable, but there are quite a lot of "dead" ones in English.  (Here, I'm referring to the same "dead" as in "dead metaphors")  Words like "smooth" are actually onomatopoeia, but we've become so accustomed to them that it's no longer striking.  It has been argued, also, that English is a more phonesthemic language than Japanese.

  9. cbp September 1st, 2010 7:01 am

    argh how the hell am i supposed to remember all these?!

  10. programmer August 6th, 2015 8:55 pm

    For anybody who needs these in JSON

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