Onii Chan – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did someone just call you their “onii chan” online? Maybe you’re watching a manga, and young girls use it when flirting with older guys? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The expression “onii chan” translates from Japanese to “older brother.” It’s a way of addressing someone senior to you in your family or the social hierarchy in Japan.

Onii chan” is a term of endearment between a brother and sister, and it’s a common word in Japanese language and family communications. A sister would use it when addressing their older brother, similar to a pet name for her sibling.

However, the rise in the anime category “hentai” saw the term develop a darker meaning. The phrase also carries the sexual meaning of “daddy” in Japanese, especially in the hentai category. The expression usually occurs between a young female character and an older man in his twenties or thirties they find attractive.

The phrase can refer to a “sugar daddy” or an older admirer that buys affection from a younger lover by showering her with gifts and attention.

Example Usage

“I was watching onii chan hentai online last night. There is some twisted stuff in that genre. Check it out if you want to have a laugh.”

“If a Japanese girl calls you her onii chan, it means that she’s calling you daddy. I guess even Japanese girls are into that whole father-love incest thing cause it’s a big category in anime.”

“There are thousands of onii chan memes online, and almost all of them are about hentai characters and sexual intimacy with older guys.”

“You have to be careful with onii chan hentai. We could classify a lot of it as child porn, and much of it is disgusting.”

“If you like watching onii chan hentai, that’s on you. Personally, I prefer watching adult relationships, not stuff with kids.”

“You are my onii chan. I love you so much. I don’t care if anyone thinks you being ten years older than me is a problem.”

“Kim-san is my onii chan, and I haven’t seen him in years since he moved to the States.”


The expression “onii chan” originates from the Japanese language. While it has thousands of years of use in Japanese, it’s only recently become a word understood and used in the western world. Language experts believe “onii chan” appeared in English in the late 1980s and 1990s with the rise of anime content and the “hentai” category.

When people use the saying followed by “san,” they are using the phrase in the context of their older brother. The first appearance of the expression in the Urban Dictionary was in 2007. The term spread around internet message boards and forums like 4Chan and Reddit, becoming the caption on many hentai memes.

Phrases Similar to Onii Chan

  • Older brother.
  • Daddy.

Phrases Opposite to Onii Chan

  • Maknae.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Onii Chan.

Ways People May Say Onii Chan Incorrectly

If you’re in Japan and call someone “onii chan” they’re likely to think you’re a westerner looking for an attractive man.

It might be a slightly offensive term to some, and it could also land you in trouble if you don’t understand the intimate meaning of the phrase and the other person starts coming on to you.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Onii Chan

You can use the phrase “onii chan” to describe a big brother figure in your life. It's a sign of respect for your elders. However, you can also use it to describe an attractive man that gives you feelings of lust for them. The phrase is a Japanese substitution for “daddy” in a sexual reference, especially in hentai.

The phrase is more common in online scenarios. You can use it in chat to describe a man you want to be intimate with. The saying applies less to the older-brother meaning and more to the hentai sexual meaning in modern language and online use.

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