Japanese often use the word “daijoubu（だいじょうぶ、大丈夫）”.
Most Japanese use the word not only in casual settings but also in formal settings.
It is used so often, and recently its usage has changed slightly because it can have many different meanings.
Let’s take a closer look at “daijoubu”, which is used in countless numbers in Japanese conversation.
What does “daijoubu” mean?
One Piece（ワンピース by Eiichiro Oda) is a Japanese manga (and anime) that has become popular in the world. In the story, the main character Luffy always says “daijo —- bu（だいじょーーぶ、大丈ーー夫）” with a full smile.
Some people imitate the line because the voice actor who is in charge of Luffy’s role in the animation also has a unique way of saying.
Anyway, what is “daijoubu”?
“Daijoubu” has the meaning of “it is OK”, “it is certain”, “don’t worry”.
For example, it is used as follows:
Daijoubu desu ka?
Are you okay?
Watashi wa daijoubu desu.
I am okay.
Kinou no watashi no supiichi wa daijoubu deshita ka?
Was my speech yesterday okay?
Kare ni makasete okeba daijoubu desu.
You can leave it to him.
Kyou no yuuhan, raamen de daijoubu?
Are you okay with today’s dinner ramen?
Ano hito, mou aruite daijoubu nano?
Is that person alright walking?
Anata ga inakutemo daijoubu desu.
I will be fine without you.
Mada daijoubu desu. Herupu ga hitsuyou ni nattara yobimasu.
It seems fine so far. I will call you when I need your help.
Ima, gohun gurai daijoubu?
Do you have 5 minutes to talk now?
Okega wa daijoubu desuka?
Are you getting better (from the injury)?
Ha? Nani ittenno? Atama daijoubu?
は？何言ってんの？頭大丈夫？(it sounds a bit rude…)
What? What are you talking about? Are you okay?
Daijoubu desu. Kitto goukakutsuuchi wa todokimasu.
Not to worry. I am sure that you will receive a pass notification.
Daijoubu. Subete OK desu.
Fine. Everything is OK.
Kono ie wa jishin nimo daijoubu na sekkei desu.
This house has a design that is safe from earthquakes.
Kondo wa daijoubu dayo.
It will be fine this time.
It will be fine next time.
Origin of “daijoubu”
“Daijoubu” is a word from China. That has changed to a slightly different meaning in Japan.
Let’s divide “dai-joubu” into “dai（大）” and “joubu（丈夫）”.
The term “joubu” was used in China for men, meaning men who were close to average height. Among them, the man with a strong and respectable appearance was called “dai-joubu”.
In Japan, the word was understood as meaning “feeling safe to have a strong man at present,” and then the meaning changed to a word that describes the situation of just “feeling safe.”
As in the above example, there are many kanji that came from China that has changed meaning in Japan.
These days, “daijoubu” is used differently among young people (and probably many adults).
(That said, old Japanese also used a different meaning of “daijoubu” from China, and it may be difficult to define what is wrong.)
A: (at a supermarket) Reji-bukuro ha dousaremasuka?
B: Daujoubu desu.
A: (at the supermarket) Do you need a shopping bag?
B: It all right.
A: Koohii no okawari wa ikaga deshou ka?
B: Iie, daijoubu desu.
A: Would you like another cup of coffee?
B: No, I am all right.
A: Oshokuji wa dou saremasu ka?
B: Daijoubu desu. Soto de tabemasu node.
A: Would you like a meal?
B: Please don’t worry. I will eat outside.
A: Korekara nomi ni ikukedo dou?
B: Kyou wa yotei ga arunode daijoubu desu.
A: I’m going for a drink now, would you like to come?
B: It’s okay because I have a plan today.
“Daijoubu” in the above example is used to say “No, thank you. I am all right” or “Thank you for asking, but I am fine”.
Therefore, the meaning of “daijoubu” changes greatly depending on what words come before and after it.
In this way, “daijoubu” can include affirmative and negative meanings, especially in the younger generation, who tend to use the word in the sense of confirming, refusing, encouraging and when something is enough.
There are, of course, many exact words that can be replaced with “daijoubu”. Because the word is so versatile and easy to use, there are even jokes that they could talk with just the word “daijoubu”.
However, because “daijoubu” sounds softly refusing as “I’m OK, don’t worry”, it’s true that neither the person who said it nor the person who was said it feels bad. Such a manner might have derived from the Japanese custom of thinking about the other party.
Recently, the phrase “zenzen daijoubu（全然大丈夫）” is often used.
“Zenzen” is a word that should be used in negative sentences and should have a negative meaning.
Therefore, “zenzen daijoubu” is, strictly speaking, a somewhat uncomfortable phrase to hear that mixes positive and negative. However, it is easy for ordinary Japanese to imagine what it indicates so the word has been just going around.