• (In Japanese popular culture) The quality of being cute, or items that are cute.


  • (In Japanese popular culture) Appealing in an endearing way; cute.

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Example Sentences

“All of my new clothes are kawaii — I can’t wait to show you.”

“I want to decorate my bedroom with everything kawaii.”

“This litter of kittens is too kawaii!”

Word Origin

Japanese, 1960s

Why this word?

The simplest explanation of the word “kawaii” might be “cuteness inspired by Japanese culture.” There’s not a strict definition of “kawaii” (used as both an adjective to describe something and as a noun to designate the aesthetic), but think pastels, cute cartoon creatures, pigtails, and glitter. Kawaii as a concept started in Japan in the mid-1970s, around the time Hello Kitty launched. It’s hard to give rules for kawaii, because anything cute can be considered kawaii. However, as the aesthetic spread around the world, you can see influences in graffiti art, cosplay, decorated bento boxes, fashion, video games, and emoji.

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