Moshi Moshi – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you calling a Japanese person? Don’t be surprised if they pick up the phone and say, “moshi moshi.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this telephonic expression.


The expression “moshi moshi” (もしもし) is a common phrase in the Japanese language. Japanese people, especially young women, use it when answering the phone at home. Many people think it translates to “hello,” but it is akin to “I speak, I speak.”

The phrase is common in Manga and anime content. You’ll likely hear the character use it on the phone, followed by their name and the word “desu.” There are hundreds of internet manga and anime memes of the phrase online.

Example Usage

“Moshi moshi, Kelly desu, how have you been, girl? “It’s been ages since we spoke. I was just thinking about calling you now.”

“Moshi moshi, Sandra desu. Oh, you want to speak to my father? That’s no problem. Hang on for a minute while I find him.”

“Moshi moshi, Kim desu. Yes, we’re around the block from the statue. Just keep following the balloons until you find the place.”

“Moshi moshi, Tina desu. Hi, we’re all here waiting for you now. You can come through whenever you’re ready.”

“Moshi moshi, Ariana desu. Oh, it’s you! Great, I wanted to ask you something about the book club meeting this week, but I forgot what it was.”

“Moshi moshi, Penelope desu. Yes, you have the right number. I’m practicing my Japanese introductions this week on the phone.”


The expression “moshi moshi” originates from the Japanese language. It’s a way of answering the phone at home or on personal calls. You use the phrase to let people know that you’re speaking on the phone ad you want to know what the other person wants or why they called.

Language experts believe there are several explanations for the origin of “moshi moshi” (もしもし) as a greeting. The saying has roots in the verb “mousu” (申す/もうす), meaning “to say.” The expression first appears in the Japanese language in the 1980s after the arrival of personal telephonic communications at home.

The female operators used a polite and humble tone on the phone, with the greeting “moushimasu” (申します/もうします). This expression means “to say” in Japanese, and operators use it with callers in a privileged position in society.

However, the first telephones were of poor quality, and the operator would repeat the greeting “moshi moshi” to make sure the other person knew they were on the line with them.

Despite the change in technology, Japanese people still double up on the greeting when answering the phone today.

Phrases Similar to Moshi Moshi

  • Hello.
  • Hi.
  • Speaking.

Phrases Opposite to Moshi Moshi

  • Go away.
  • Hang up.
  • Don’t answer.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Moshi moshi.

Ways People May Say Moshi Moshi Incorrectly

Since “moshi moshi” is a Japanese phrase, most people outside of Japan will not understand what you’re saying when you answer the phone with “moshi moshi.” Some people that are Manga fans might get it, but the vast majority of English-speaking people won’t have a clue as to what you’re saying to them.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Moshi Moshi

You can use the expression “moshi moshi” when answering the phone. It’s a way of greeting someone and letting them know they’re speaking to you and not your answering machine. Before introducing yourself and saying your name, you can use the expression. For example, “Moshi moshi, Kim.”

You could also use the phrase in online chatrooms before you start spamming the thread or talking to other people. Moshi moshi would be a term of endearment between friends when speaking on the phone. It only suits social use, and even Japanese people won’t use it for professional communications.

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