Domo Arigato – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did a friend just say 'domo arigato' to you after you offered them a beverage? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The expression 'domo arigato' is Japanese, translating to 'thank you' in English. However, 'domo arigato' is not a formalized greeting. It's more commonly used in informal conversations. People may also separate the use of 'domo' and 'arigato' for different purposes, depending on the conversation.

For instance, using 'arigato' is the better choice in professional situations, like wishing your boss farewell. 'Domo' is the better choice for use in informal conversations with random people you meet, friends, and family. So, if you're greeting the shopkeeper after leaving his store, 'domo' would be the better choice for saying farewell.

Example Usage

"Domo arigato. That was an amazing afternoon. I always wanted to see the Yankees play at home. What an experience. I appreciate you."

"Domo arigato, I appreciate the effort. But there's no need to go out of your way to take me home. I'm fine with walking the rest of the way, and it will at least save you some gas money."

"Domo arigato. This was the best sushi I've ever had. I don't know how you manage to pull it off, but the wasabi is so much more flavorful than at other sushi restaurants."

"Domo arigato. This sake wine is an amazing gift. Come, let's retire to the den for a few drinks. You can tell me all about your travels to Japan."

"Domo arigato. We needed this so much, and we can't begin to thank you enough. This donation will help us buy food for the community during this troubling time. We appreciate everyone who donated to the campaign."

"Domo arigato. I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me today. We must discuss your son's behavior and how it disrupts the class. I think he might be dealing with ADHD."


The expression 'domo arigato' originates from the Japanese language. The kanji term 'arigatou gozaimasu' is typically spelled using hiragana. However, it has kanji characters in the phrase, helping us unpack the meaning and origin of the saying.

Spelled 有難うございます and pronounced 'Arigatou gozaimasu' with kanji characters. The kanji features two primary characters 有る(ある:aru), meaning 'to be' or 'to exist. The 難い(かたい:katai) means difficult or hard.

In the kokugo Japanese dictionary, 'arigatashi' translates to 'something rare, which eventually changed to being 'thankful.' Language experts are unsure of when the saying entered the English lexicon as a farewell greeting.

Phrases Similar to Domo Arigato

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Phrases Opposite to Domo Arigato

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What is the Correct Saying?

  • Domo Arigato.

Ways People May Say Domo Arigato  Incorrectly

It is not suitable to use ‘domo arigato’ during formal conversations. The greeting is more causal, and suits use with family and friends. Using it in professional communications is incorrect and improper. Some Japanese people may think the use of ‘domo’ to be rude as an informal thank you statement. ‘Arigato’ is suitable for use in formal situations.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Domo Arigato

You can use the phrase ‘domo arigato’ when communicating with Japanese people in verbal exchanges and text communications. It’s a well-understood term, but you must know how to use it correctly. Despite it sounding formal, domo arigato is a casual greeting in Japanese.

Arigato is more formal compared to the use of domo and suits conversations with new people you meet during the day. Domo is suitable for use with friends, family, strangers, and close colleagues.

However, keep the use of ‘domo’ out of the office, as Japanese culture views it as きもい (gross) in formal conversations. The most eloquent format of arigato to use in formal situations is ”ありがとうございます”(arigatou gozaimasu) instead.

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