Mitsuki: (Kono aji, maji yabai~. Oishi sugiru!)
Mitsuki: This tastes absolutely incredible! So good!
Yukiko: (Tashika ni, kore wa maji de kuse ni naru ne.)
Yukiko: Absolutely, this is seriously addictive.
What Does まじ (Maji) and まじで (Maji De) Mean?
まじ (maji) and まじで (maji de) are interchangeable in many cases. They both can mean:
- I mean it
- for real
まじ (Maji) and まじで (Maji De): A Closer Look
If you ever listen to native Japanese speakers having a casual conversation, you will probably hear まじ (maji) and まじで (maji de) a lot. For real, we’re not playing!
まじ (maji) expresses the seriousness or earnestness of the speaker. In other words, it is the opposite of joking around or being funny. It is like saying “seriously” or ” for real” in English.
Depending on the context, it can also mean:
- “No way!”
- “You’re sh#tting me!”
- “No kidding!”
- “I swear”
You can use まじ (maji) as a statement or a question like “Seriously?” “For real?” When using it as a question, raise the pitch at the end to make it sound like a question. まじ (maji) can function as an adverb, an adjective, and a noun.
Example: Maji as an Adjective
Kore maji na hanashi dayo.
I kid you not, this is a real story.
Example: Maji as a Noun
I seriously lost my temper.
マジギレ (majigire) means being truly angry. The word キレ (kire) is a noun derived from the verb キレる (kireru), which means to get angry or to lose one’s temper. The word キレ (kire) can also mean slices (of cake, etc.) or the sharpness of a knife. When used to describe one’s temper, キレ (kire) can’t function alone as a noun. It needs to be combined with another word like マジ (maji) or 逆 (gyaku).*
*Note: 逆 (gyaku) means “opposite” or “reverse.” Combining it with キレ gives us the compound word 逆ギレ (gyakugire), which means you snap or lash out at someone who was yelling at you first. “Reverse rage” is probably something we’ve all experienced before.
You may have noticed that the pronunciation of キレ (kire) has become ギレ (gire) when combined with マジ (maji) or 逆 (gyaku). This is because of a grammar rule in Japanese called “連濁 (rendaku).” When two words (such as マジ + キレ) are combined to form a compound word, the first syllable of the second word usually becomes voiced. That is, “キレ (kire)” becomes “ギレ (gire).” While 連濁 (rendaku) is commonly used in Japanese to make the pronunciation easier, it doesn’t apply to every word.
What About まじで (Maji De) in Japanese?
まじで (maji de) means the same thing as まじ (maji). These are interchangeable when used as an adverb. However, まじで (maji de) can’t be an adjective or a noun. The particle ～で (de) of まじで (maji de) means “being IN a state of マジ (maji)” (=you are being serious). Here are some examples of using まじで (maji de).
Maji de dai pinchi.
I’m really in trouble (I have a real predicament)!
Maji de ureshii!
I’m seriously happy!
How to Use まじ (Maji) / まじで (Maji De) Naturally in Japanese
Let’s go straight into some examples of まじ (maji) and まじで (maji de), so you can see the nuance of each in natural conversations.
1. With the Meaning of “No Way!”
Miho: (Sakki kareshi to wakarete kita.)
Miho: I broke up with my boyfriend a minute ago.
Sachiko: (Uso? Maji de? Kekkon majika datta noni!)
Sachiko: What? No way?! You were getting married!
2. With the Meaning of “I Swear (It’s True)”
Satoko: (Yakusoku wasureru nante saitei!)
Satoko: How terrible you are! You forgot our appointment.
Taisuke: (Wasuretan janai tte. Maji, byōki dattan da.)
Taisuke: I didn’t forget. I swear I was sick.
3. With the Meaning of “Honestly, Genuinely”
Ryota: (Iyo iyo zenkoku rīgu no kesshōsen da. Kinchō suru na~.)
Ryota: The final match of the national league is finally coming. I am nervous.
Kōsuke: (Ryota nara zettai kateru. Maji de sō omou.)
Kōsuke: You will win. I honestly think so.
4. With the Meaning of “Are You Serious? You’re Joking!?”
Kenji: (Omae, yoi sugite kēsatsu no osewa ni nattan datte na. Shanai de uwasa ni natteru yo.)
Kenji: Hey, you got into trouble with the police because you were too drunk, didn’t you? There is a rumor going around in the office.
新之助: げ、マジっすか? 誰がそんなこと言ってるんすか?
Shinnosuke: (Ge, Majissuka? Dare ga sonna koto itterunsu ka?)
Shinnosuke: Oh, no! Are you serious? Who is spreading it?
“マジっすか (majissuka)” and “言ってるんすか (itterunsuka)” are shortened form of “マジですか (maji desuka)” and “言ってるんですか (itterun desuka)”, and are very casual expressions. Young people frequently use this form among their friends or people they are very close to.
Origins of まじ (Maji): Where Did it Come From?
It may seem like まじ (maji) and まじで (maji de) are slang used by young people. But it dates back to the Edo era. It is said to be a buzzword used by performers backstage. Interestingly, some references show that it was even used in dialogue in Kabuki performances at that time. The meaning back then was more or less the same as today.
Some say まじ (maji) / まじで (maji de) was derived from the word 真面目(majime), which means earnest, diligent, or serious. The word is used to describe a person’s personality. But some sources say that 真面目 (majime) and まじ (maji)/まじで (maji de) seemed to be used during the same Edo era. Nobody knows the true origin.
Other Additional Information
Some young people may prefer to write “マヂ.” This is not completely wrong, but it is technically not correct. This can give off a less serious impression.