April 9, 2024

ド – A ! with a Slightly Insulting Nuance

The following panel is from 江戸前(えどまえ)エルフ, a manga that tells the story of an Elf summoned from an 異世界(いせかい) (isekai—another world) by the one and only Tokugawa Ieyasu.


Otaku Elf


isekai—another world

Thanks to her Elvish longevity, she still resides in present-day Tokyo, making her home in a particular shrine. This manga is full of fun Edo period trivia which makes it fun. Of course, what's really fun is she's a ()きこもりオタク (a shut-in otaku) who prefers the comfort of her room over the outside world.


a shut-in otaku

In this scene, we're introduced to another elf who, unlike our shut-in otaku protagonist, she is very outward but grapples with a gambling addiction. She squandered most of her travel money on lottery tickets, but never fear. She has devised a scheme to rapidly recoup the cash she lost.

Use the vocabulary list below to try reading through it.




Were you able to follow? Use the above vocabulary to try your hand at translating and then see our translation below.


About ドでかい



You may know that "でかい" is a slang term that means "huge." Although it originally carried a somewhat crude slangy connotation, it has since become more accepted in standard Japanese.

But do you know what the ド in this word means?

So, What is ?!

The prefix "ド" in "ドでかい" is commonly used in colloquial Japanese. It has two primary functions:

  • Emphasis: It intensifies the meaning of the adjective it precedes
  • Derision: It often adds a negative nuance of making fun of someone or something


It seems no one knows where the ド came from but it has been in use since the Edo period. That means it’s as old as the elves in the manga.

Two possible origins are:

  • It may be from 「()」 as in 程度(ていど) (degree or amount) since 「()」 can be pronounced ド.
  • Or it could have come from a shortening of 「どう」 (how).

At any rate, it is often written in katakana, but can also be written in hiragana.

Returning to ドでかい, it isn't just "huge" but the ド makes it "massive," "gigantic," or "gigantically huge".

In other words, ド gives it an added emphasis that goes beyond the base adjective.

But not just that. In addition to emphasizing, it often carries a bit of negativity, as if someone is making fun of someone. Often, but not always.

Here are a few words that commonly are used with ド. Notice how most of these could easily be used for a negative putdown:

Common words


very rural; deep in the countryside


extreme perseverance; guts


dead center; right in the middle


overwhelming force; powerful presence


to be utterly astonished; to scare the living daylights out of (someone)


 extremely enka; very much in the style of traditional Japanese ballads


extremely nearsighted


 total idiot; complete fool


complete amateur; total novice


extreme miser; tightwad


extremely poor at; terribly unskilled


extremely lewd; highly perverted


extreme sadist


extreme masochist


extremely ugly (woman)


extremely poor people; the destitute


dirt poor; extremely impoverished


extremely great; significant


extremely gaudy; loud


huge; enormous


extremely cheeky; brazen


very flashy; gaudy


right up one's alley; hitting right on the mark

As you can see, only a handful of these words have a positive connotation. ド was originally and is primarily used negatively.

Now, go out into the world (or at least the world-wide-web) and see if you can see or hear examples of ド!

Want more? If you are a Makoto+ member, click here for another longer manga breakdown illustrating the usage of ド.

Makoto+ Members, click here to view another manga breakdown and download all the sound files and a PDF just for this lesson. Practice makes perfect!

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