Musume (娘 / むすめ) is the standard word for daughter in Japanese. However, there are differences in the ways it can be used. It depends on whose daughter you are speaking about, or speaking to.
Not a lot of Japanese words for daughter exist, compared to ones for mother, father, sister, or brother. Because of this, it’s important to learn about the most useful words for ‘daughter’ in Japanese, plus situations they can be applied to.
The word musume (娘 / むすめ) is typically used when talking about your own daughter in polite situations. However, you can use it for somebody else’s daughter by adding the honorific suffix -san (～さん).
Watashi no musume wa hikoushi ni naritai desu.
わたし の むすめ は ひこうし に なりたい です。
My daughter wants to become a pilot.
Somebody else’s daughter
Musume san wa futago wo unda sou desu ne.
むすめさん は ふたご を うんだ そう です ね。
I heard your daughter gave birth to twins.
The speaker can use possessive words like watashi no (私の / わたしの) or uchi no (家の / うちの) to indicate that they are referring to someone from their family. However, this is not always necessary because it can usually be understood from context.
Daughter (somebody else’s)
Ojousan (お嬢さん / おじょうさん) is used when talking about somebody else’s daughter.
Ojousan wa ryuugaku shite imasu ka?
おじょうさん は りゅうがく しています か。
Is your daughter studying abroad?
In polite conversations, ‘your daughter’ can be expressed as otaku no ojousan (お宅のお嬢さん / おたくのおじょうさん). Otaku (お宅) means ‘your family’ in respectful language in this context.
Ojousan can also be used as a respectful way to refer to any girl or young woman.
Meanwhile, ojousama (お嬢様 / おじょうさま), while being polite language for daughter (the teineigo form), can also be used to refer to a ‘pampered young lady’, or girl born into a comfortable lifestyle.
Onna no ko
Daughter, baby girl
The word onna no ko (女の子 / おんあのこ) is only used for female children. It means ‘girl’, ‘daughter’, or ‘baby girl’. It can also mean ‘young woman’.
Onna no ko can be used to say ‘daughter’ in general. To be specific about whose child is being talked about, possessives can be used. It is also common to hear ko (子 / こ) or ‘child’, without indicating their gender.
Eldest daughter, only daughter
The word choujo (長女 / ちょうじょ) means ‘eldest daughter’. It can also mean ‘only daughter’.
Choujo is a common word, but it is actually part of a group of Japanese words used to indicate the birth order of children in a family. Jijo (次女 / じじょ) is used for ‘second-born daughter’, and sanjo (三女 / さんじょ) is for ‘third-born daughter’, and so on.
Adopted daughters are referred to as youjo (養女 / ようじょ) in Japanese. The first character you (養) means ‘foster’ while the second, jo or onna (女) is the kanji for ‘woman’.
There aren’t many words for adopted children in Japanese, but the words for adoptive parents are the same as in-laws.
Yome (嫁 / よめ) is used when speaking about your daughter-in-law. When referring to somebody else’s, though, oyomesan (お嫁さん / およめさん) is more appropriate, as it is a more respectful form. Yome can also mean ‘bride’.
Another word for daughter-in-law is giri no musume (義理の娘 / ぎりのむすめ), although this one is less commonly heard than yome. Giri no musume is used when introducing someone as your daughter-in-law. When speaking directly to her, you call her by her given name.
Daughter in Japanese
As you can see, there are various ways to say daughter in Japanese, but don’t panic! If in doubt, just say musume or musume–san (depending on if you’re talking about your own daughter or someone else’s). This is the most standard word, and it’s fine for all situations. All the other words for daughter will just enrich your knowledge of Japanese and help you become more fluent!
Learn more words for family members in Japanese in these related articles:
- How to Say Mother in Japanese
- How to Say Father in Japanese
- How to Say Sister in Japanese
- How to Say Brother in Japanese
- How to Say Son in Japanese
- How to Say Husband in Japanese
- How to Say Wife in Japanese
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Thea is a freelance content writer, currently majoring in Japanese studies. She likes to create art and draws inspiration from film and music. Thea was inspired to study Japanese language and culture by reading the literary works of Haruki Murakami and Edogawa Ranpo.