The baka is a protective spirit delivered by a voodoo priest in the form of a dwarf. It protects a house or property.

The baka is believed to be evil and can turn on it's owner to inflict various misfortunes, including his or her death or the death of their loved ones.

The American unofficial code name for the Ohka suicide weapon deployed by the Japanese near the end of WWII.

The Ohka (trans.: cherry blossom) was a slender fuselage with skimpy (and inadequate) control surfaces and a cockpit in the middle, with all the space forward of the cockpit stuffed with explosives and the space aft of the cockpit containing rocket engines. Dropped from a bomber, the rockets would ignite, and the pilot had barely enough control available to him to roughly guide the "aircraft" into a collision with an Allied ship. Theoretically, it was a bit more cost effective than expending a whole airplane for a kamikaze attack, and its speed and size would make it more difficult to shoot down, but in practice, it was just too difficult for the pilots (especially given the quality of their training at that stage of the war) to score hits. It was also relatively easy for Allied fighters to just shoot down the parent bombers first.

Upon learning of the Japanese name for these things, someone in the Pentagon who actually spoke some Japanese pinned the name "baka" on them, and it stuck.

"Fool" in japanese. Not really a 'swear' or 'cuss' word, as nearly every Nihon-jin 5 year old knows the word.

Written with the kanji for horse and deer. No, I do not know why.

Here's some info on the etymology of the word "baka."

According to some sources, the kanji for "horse" and "deer" are assigned to represent "baka" only phonetically. In this theory, "baka" was derived from the Sanskrit "moha" (meaning a person lacking knowledge). It was part of slang used by monks which came into general usage.

There is another theory, which concerns a Chinese Emperor and his power-hungry chief retainer. Since the Emperor was a little slow, the chief retainer had most of the power. One day, the retainer brought a deer in front of the Emperor and asked him what it was. The Emperor answered, "It's a deer, of course." The chief retainer said that it was a horse, not a deer. The chief retainer then asked all the other retainers in the room what it was. The retainers who were loyal to the Emperor answered that it was a deer, while those loyal to the chief retainer said it was a horse. The chief retainer said to the Emperor, "I assure you that this is in fact a horse, and all those retainers who say that it is a deer are lying to you." The Emperor believed him, and had all the retainers who said that it was a deer executed.

On the other hand, the Chinese don't use the word "baka," so this story might not be true.

Baka does indeed mean stupid and is used to insult someone you are mad at, but it also has another use which is widely unreported.

The first and most common use is basically the same as it is used in English.

  • Someone cuts you off in traffic.
  • You go to the supermarket and forget your wallet.

The list goes on and on (not here it doesn't though).

However, a much more interesting use in Japan is as a term of endearment. Couples use it all the time, not in an insulting way, but in a warm fuzzy way. A woman won't say baka to any man except her boyfriend or husband. Not because it is disrespectful, but because she is too embarrassed.

One time I held a kompa and thought I'd try this out for some fun. In the usual kompa style, there were three guys and three girls sitting opposite each other. The girls were to look the guy opposite them in the eyes and say as seriously (but not angrily) as possible, "baka". For added emphasis, the word should be drawn out a few seconds.

Not one of the girls was able to say it. They sank in their seats, red-faced, giggling uncontrollably. Next was the guys' turn. Nor could they say it. Being called baka by a new boyfriend/girlfriend accompanied by a playful smack on the top of the head is considered a comforting sign of how well things are going.

Baka is also the filipino word for any bovine creature or its meat. Also it is the filipino word for maybe.

What's for lunch?
Baka Tapa.*

*Tapa is cured meat.

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