Be it the language that shapes the culture or the culture that forms the word, learn about Japanese culture through keywords used in everyday speech.


Pronounced: O tsukare sama desu

Format: honorific prefix + verb + honorific suffix + desu

Meaning: Literally, “it has been tiring on you”, or “you are tired”, conveying your respect for the person’s hard work


Why we like this word: 

This is said at to colleagues or friends before parting, and implies appreciation and acknowledgement that “It’s been tough/tiring on you, thank you”. There isn’t an 8-syllable phrase in English that conveys the same meaning in such situations. “Bye, see you tomorrow!” doesn’t come close, while making an effort to say “Thanks for today!” would sound weird if you’re seeing the same person for the rest of the working week. “Otsukaremadesu” makes you feel you deserve that after work beer…oh, and did I mention it’s also said in place of “kampai” (cheers) in such sessions?

 お疲れ様です vs ご苦労さまです(gokurosamadesu)

Both convey an appreciation for hard work done, but the latter is mainly used by people who are more senior, such as a boss to juniors. It is not advisable to use this to your boss, teacher or someone higher than you in the chain of command!

Contextually Speaking…

Japanese is a very contextual language. Otsukaresama is a versatile word that can be used in place of the usual Good Morning or Good Afternoon or Welcome Back From A Hard Day Of Sales Pitching.

This is what otsukaresamadesu can mean in various situations:

-When you email colleagues=How are you

-When someone completes a big project=Thank you for your hard work

-When you are passing by in the office=How are you

-When someone resigns=Thank you for working with us

And Otsukaresamadesu for reading this!