Catch Phrase | KY

Writer: Zhang Chanwen  |  Editor: Stephanie Yang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2021-10-18


Originating in Japanese, this term is the initial letters of “kuuki ga yomenai,” which is literally translated as “cannot read the air(说话不合时宜).” “Reading the air” (talking and behaving appropriately in circumstances) is important in Japan. “KY” is often used to deride people who don’t understand the unspoken rules of a group or say things and behave in an obviously offensive way. The term was first popular among high schoolers in Japan, but was used in news headlines when former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to resign after a devastating election defeat in Japan’s parliament.


A: 昨天你的同学聚会怎么样?

Zuótiān nǐde tóngxué jùhuì zěnmeyàng?

How was your class reunion yesterday?

B: : 总体还是很开心的,但有一个同学一直KY,让人有点扫兴。

Zǒngtǐ háishi hěn kāixīn de,dàn yǒuyíɡè tóngxué yìzhí KY,ràngrén yǒudiǎn sǎoxìng。

Overall it was still a good time, but one classmate spoke particularly out of place, making it a bit of a bummer.