What Does Doki Doki in Japanese Mean?

ドキドキ (doki doki) is used to express emotions such as nervousness, excitement, expectation, surprise, and so on. It describes the condition of your heart beating faster than usual.

What Is ドキドキ (Doki Doki)?

ドキドキ (doki doki) is an onomatopoeia, the Japanese sound for a “heart beating fast.”

Doki doki is the perfect expression to describe your heart racing due to feeling nervous, excited, anxious, surprised, or scared. It is also often used to express your emotions when you are in love with someone. Thinking about the one you love and interacting with this person makes you feel excited, right? This type of feeling is precisely what doki doki expresses.  

Doki doki can be written both in hiragana and katakana.  However, writing it in katakana is more common because this expression represents a sound.  

It is often used as a verb when coupled with the auxiliary verb する (suru). The most common way of using it is ドキドキする (doki doki suru). Or it can be simply used as a noun, like this:ドキドキ (doki doki).

Let’s learn how to use doki doki naturally in your conversations.  

How to Use ドキドキ (Doki Doki) Naturally in Japanese

Let’s look at the different situations in which ドキドキ is commonly used.  

1. ドキドキ (Doki Doki) When You’re Scared (Heart Beating Fast)

ドキドキ is often used when you are scared or nervous, and your heart is beating fast. This can also come from nervous anticipation, like when you are expecting something terrible to happen.  

In the first conversation, Mika is anticipating some bad news from Kenji. Her heart is beating fast out of anxiety. As for the second conversation, Mika is freaking out from any sounds after watching a horror movie.

Examples: Dialogue 1

Kenji: (Chotto hanashi ga arun da.)
Kenji: I need to talk to you.

美香:深刻な顔してなに? 悪い話? ドキドキするんだけど。
Mika: (Shinkoku na kao shite nani? Warui hanashi? Doki doki surun dakedo.)
Mika: You look serious. Is it bad news? I’m freaking out.  

Kenji: (Jitsu wa ore, shōshin shitan da.)
Kenji: Actually, I was promoted.

美香:え? 昇進? なんだ、いい話じゃん! ドキドキさせないでよ。おめでとう! 良かったね。
Mika: (E? Shōshin? Nanda, ii hanashi jan! Doki doki sasenaide yo. Omedetō! Yokatta ne.)
Mika: What? Promoted? Wow, that’s good news! Don’t scare me like that. Congratulations! I am happy for you.

In the conversation above, we see a typical use of (doki doki). It is used with the auxiliary verb する (suru). 

The causative form of する (suru) is させる(saseru). 

ドキドキさせない (doki doki sasenai) is the negative form of this causative verb. Hence ドキドキさせないで (doki doki sasenaide) means “Don’t make me doki doki” or “Don’t make me scared.”

Examples: Dialogue 2

Mika: (Horā eiga mita ato tte sa, chotto shita monooto ni mo doki doki shinai?)
Mika: After watching a horror movie, don’t you freak out when you hear any sound?

健司:ははは、そうなの? そういえば誰もいないはずの部屋から声がするんだけど。
Kenji: (Hahaha, sō nano? Sōieba daremo inai hazu no heya kara koe ga surun dakedo.)
Kenji: Hahaha, really? Now that you mention it, I heard a voice coming from that room even though no one was supposed to be in there.

美香:もう、だから怖がらせないでって! ただでさえドキドキしてるんだから。
Mika: (Mō, Dakara kowagarase naide tte! Tada de sae doki doki shiterun dakara.)
Mika: Hey! I said don’t scare me. I am already freaking out.

Here, doki doki is again used with the auxiliary verb する (suru) but in different forms. 

For example, ドキドキしない (doki doki shinai) is the negative form of ドキドキする (doki doki suru). In the conversation, this negative form is used as a question, like when we use “isn’t” or “don’t” in English (Ex. Isn’t it delicious? Don’t you feel cold?).

In the dialogue above, ドキドキしない? (doki doki shinai?) is used to ask, “Don’t you get scared? / Don’t you freak out?”  

ドキドキして (doki doki shite) is the te-form of ドキドキする (doki doki suru).

 2. ドキドキ (Doki Doki) When You’re Nervous

If you have ever had an important job interview, you know how nerve-racking it can be. This nervous feeling that makes you uneasy and maybe even keeps you up at night can also be described using ドキドキ.  

Example Dialogue:

Kenji: (Ashita wa mensetsu da. Ima kara doki doki suru yo.)
Kenji: I have my job interview tomorrow. I am nervous (my heart is pounding) already.

Mika: (Daijōbu, kitto umaku iku yo. Ochitsuite.)
Mika: I am sure everything will be all right. Just relax.

Kenji: (Konya wa doki doki shite kitto nemurenai yo.
Kenji: I won’t be able to sleep tonight cause I am too nervous.

Mika: (Amari kangae suginaide. Arinomama de ittara ii yo.)
Mika: Don’t overthink it. Just be yourself. 

3. ドキドキ (Doki Doki) When You’re Excited (From Joy or Expectation)

This usage of ドキドキ describes that feeling you get from being so exciting about something. Maybe you’re waiting in line to get on a roller coaster, and your heart is beating fast. Or maybe you’re starting a new job tomorrow and are both excited and anxious. In either case, what you’re feeling is ドキドキ!

In the following dialogue, Mika and Satoko are talking about their upcoming trip and are so excited to go.  

Example Dialogue:

Mika: (Ashita kara iyoiyo machi ni matta ryokō da ne! Doki doki ga tomaranai.)
Mika: We finally get to go on our long-awaited trip tomorrow! I can’t stop feeling excited.

Satoko: (Zutto ikitakatta ryokō da mon ne.)
Satoko: Yeah, we’ve wanted to go on this trip for so long!

美香:うん、すっごく楽しみ! むっちゃドキドキ
Mika: (Un, suggoku tanoshimi! Muccha doki doki!)
Mika: Yes! I can’t want. I’m so excited

Here, the first ドキドキ (doki doki) is used as a noun to mean “excited.” ドキドキが止まらない (doki doki ga tomaranai) means “My heart doesn’t stop pounding,” or in other words, “I can’t stop feeling excited.” 

The second ドキドキ (doki doki) would typically be used as a verb, but the auxiliary verb する (suru) is omitted. In casual conversations, omitting the する (suru) verb is common. むっちゃ (muccha) means “very/so” or “super,” as in “very/so excited” or “super excited.”

4. ドキドキ (Doki Doki) When You Are in Love 

When you are in love with someone, you feel happy and fulfilled. At the same time, you may have feelings of anxiety or nervousness. Yes, love brings about a mixture of emotions. Doki doki can perfectly fit in expressing these feelings. 

Example Dialogue

Satoko: (Junpei kun no koto kangaeru dake de doki doki shite nemurenai yo.)
Satoko: I get excited and can’t sleep when I think about Junpei.

Mika: (Koi shiteru nē.)
Mika: You are a girl in love.

Satoko: (Un, anna ni kakkoii hito inai yo.)
Satoko: I am. There is no one as good-looking as him.

Mika: (A, kocchi ni mukatte kita.)
Mika: See, he is coming toward us.

Satoko: (Yabai, miru dake de doki doki shichau.)
Satoko: Oh no! Just seeing him makes my heart pound.

しちゃう (shichau) is a casual form of してしまう (shite shimau) pattern. This pattern means “I can’t stop ~ing” or “I find myself ~ing,” indicating that something happens almost against one’s will. 

In the conversation, ドキドキしちゃう (doki doki shichau) conveys that Satoko can’t control her emotions and her heart pounding when she sees her love interest.  

Origin of ドキドキ (Doki Doki) 

As mentioned earlier in this article, doki doki is derived from the sound of a heartbeat when it is beating fast. This expression was used in times as early as the Edo period (1603 – 1868). Repeating the same sound twice makes it feel as though your emotion continues for some time rather than something that lasts only for a brief moment.  


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