How to Say “Spouse” in Japanese

In the Japanese language, finding the right word to address your spouse can be a meaningful way to express your affection and respect. Whether you want to refer to your spouse formally or informally, Japanese has various terms to suit different situations and contexts. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the formal and informal ways to say “spouse” in Japanese, along with some tips, examples, and even regional variations you may come across. Let’s dive in to find the perfect term for your loved one!

Formal Terms for Spouse

If you are looking for a formal way to address your spouse in Japanese, you can use one of the following terms:

  1. 夫 (おっと / Otto): This term refers to a husband and is considered formal. It is suitable for use in formal settings or when addressing someone else’s husband.
  2. 妻 (つま / Tsuma): This term refers to a wife and is also considered formal. Similar to “otto,” it should be used in appropriate situations or when referring to someone else’s wife.

When using these formal terms, it is important to maintain a respectful tone by adding appropriate honorifics, such as “お” (o-) before the word. For example, “お夫(おっと)さん” is a respectful way to refer to someone’s husband, while “お妻(つま)さん” is used for someone’s wife.

Informal Terms for Spouse

In more informal settings or when speaking with close friends and family, you can use the following terms to refer to your spouse:

  1. 旦那 (だんな / Danna): This term means “husband” and is commonly used among married couples. It is a friendly and affectionate term that conveys a sense of familiarity and warmth.
  2. 奥さん (おくさん / Okusan): This term means “wife” and is often used by husbands to address their wives. It is a casual and endearing term that portrays a sense of intimacy and closeness.

When addressing your spouse using these informal terms, it is common to drop the honorifics. For example, instead of saying “お旦那(だんな)さん,” you can simply say “旦那(だんな)” to your husband, or “奥さん(おくさん)” to your wife.

Tips for Addressing Your Spouse

When referring to your spouse in Japanese, keep these tips in mind:

  • Consider your relationship: Choose the appropriate term based on your relationship with your spouse and the level of formality required in the situation.
  • Use context cues: Pay attention to how others refer to their spouse in particular settings, such as formal events or casual gatherings. This can help you gauge the appropriate terminology to use.
  • Respect personal preferences: Some individuals may have personal preferences for the terms used to address them. It’s essential to communicate and understand each other’s preferences to ensure mutual comfort and respect.
  • Embrace regional variations: Within Japan, regional variations exist for terms related to family members, including spouses. While the ones mentioned earlier are widely used, you may encounter different regional variations during your travels.

Examples of Usage

Let’s explore some practical examples of how to use these terms:

Example 1:

Formal: この方は私の夫(おっと)です。

Casual: この人が私の旦那(だんな)だよ。

Translation: This person is my husband.

Example 2:

Formal: 彼女は私の妻(つま)です。

Casual: 彼女はオレの奥さん(おくさん)だ。

Translation: She is my wife.

Remember to adjust the level of formality in your language based on the situation and your relationship with the person you are speaking to.


Choosing the right term to address your spouse in Japanese is a wonderful way to express your feelings and demonstrate respect. Whether you opt for a formal or informal term, such as “夫 (おっと)” or “旦那 (だんな),” or “妻 (つま)” or “奥さん (おくさん),” remember to pay attention to the context, personal preferences, and regional variations. By using these tips and understanding the examples provided, you’ll be able to navigate the world of Japanese relationships with love, warmth, and cultural sensitivity!

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