どん引き ( = Donbiki) (Slang)



=Minasan, paatii no tochuu desuga korekara shiken wo hajimemasu!

“OK, everyone! I know we’re in the middle of a party (and we’re all having fun) but I am going to give you an exam now!”


= Eeeh! Maji de?

“What? Are you serious?

Today we will learn a Japanese slang 「どん引き」(or ドン引き)( = donbiki)

This is another one of those hard-to-translate-exactly words. Roughly, it means, “turned-off”

The verb form is どん引きする。( = donbiki suru) “to be turned off” ,”to have a chill cast over, “to be scared off.””to get creeped out”)

When someone says or does something extremely awkward or strange or makes a very bad joke, people around them don’t know how to react. They’re in a kind of state of shock. That kind of reaction (even if it’s non-verbal) is called 「どん引き」 ( = donbiki)



For example:

If a freshman at work gets really drunk and says something incredibly tactless or inappropriate to a higher up in front of everyone at a party,


= Buchou tte kowaku mieru keredomo tamani akachan kotoba wo tsukatte irutte hisho no Kato san ga itte imashita kedo hontoussuka?

“(To the division head) Sir, You seems to be scary but your secretary Ms. Kato told me that you sometimes use baby talk, is it true?”

At that moment,


= Mawari ni iru hito wa mina donbiki suru.

Everyone around them got paralyzed by his words. (They get very upset and don’t know what to do.)

A guy tries to get all the attention at 合コン ( = goukon) , a matchmaking party, he sings a karaoke version of “My Way” with just a bit too much ….feeling for everyone’s comfort,


= Kare wa mina ni donbiki sarete ita.

He turned everyone off.


It is an emphatic form of

引く(or ヒク、ひく)  = hiku) : The literal meaning is to pull”

Ex. 「これ言うと引いちゃうかもしれないけれども彼、15歳までお母さんとお風呂に入っていたんだって!

= Kore iu to hiichau kamo shirenaikeredomo kare juugosai made okaasan to ofuro ni haitte itandatte.

“You might be turned off by hearing this but I heard he used to take a bath with his mother until he was 15.”


= Mou donbiki!

”Yeah! It really turned me off!”


= Hontou ni hikuyone.

“That really turned me off!”

「どん」( = don) adds the meaning of “really” to a word. Conversationally it is “really”, but it feels a bit like “Bam!” or “Boom!” in English.


= Mina hiite ita.

Everybody got turned off.

➡︎ (stronger)


= Mina donbiki shiteita. =


= Minani kanari hikare chatta. 

(I) turned off everyone.



= Mina ni donbiki sarechatta. 


= Watashi hiichatta

I was turned off.



= Watashi donbiki shichatta.


This word originally comes from comedians’ jargon to describe the audience who don’t even crack a

smile at jokes.

This slang expression gained popularity and now everybody uses it.

Actually there are tons of slang expressions that originally came from お笑い ( = owarai), (Japanese)

comedians or comedies. Check  「笑う( = warau) lesson!


 <Related expressions>

•When someone makes a poor joke, we say,

「寒い!」( = Samui) or 「さっむ〜」 ( = Sammuuu) (The literal meaning of 寒い ( = samui)  is cold)

➡︎寒いジョーク ( = samui jouku) = bad joke

(I don’t hear this expression as much as before, though.)


= Sono samui gyagu maji hiku!

“That bad gag (joke) really turned me off.”

When someone says an inappropriate joke or spoils the good atomosphere, we will be

白ける ( = shirakeru) to become chilled

:rrrr: 座  (orが白ける

 = za(or ba) ga shirakeru

the mood or pleasure of the place or people around you get spoiled.


= Kare no heta na jouku de ba ga shirakete shimatta.

His bad jokes spoil the mood of that place.

座を白けさす  = za wo shirakesasu) to spoil the mood


= Nagai supiichi wa ba wo shirakesasu.

Long speeches spoil the mood.


Note : People who usually turn off people are called,  KY  (  = kei wai).

K means 空気  ( = kuuki) the mood or atmosphere, including the feelings of people around you

Y means 読めない ( = yomenai) can’t read

KY (=kei wai) means those who can’t read between the lines, can’t sense what is happening around you or other people’s feelings. In short, people who are clueless as to how to act in certain situations.

Let’s go back to the picture above! Everybody is having a lot of fun at a Halloween party. But out of the blue, Maggie-sensei says she is going to give them an exam in the middle of the party.


= Minasan, paatii no tochuu desuga korekara shiken wo hajimemasu!

“OK, everyone! I know we’re in the middle of a party (and we’re all having fun) but I am going to give you an exam now!”


*皆さん  ( = minasan) everyone

*パーティー  ( = paatii) party

*〜の途中  ( = tochuu) in the middle of

*です  ( = desu) ”be” verb

*が  ( = ga) but

*これから ( = korekara) from now

*試験  ( = shiken) exam, test

*を  ( = wo) particle for object

*始めます  ( = hajimemasu) to start

All her students get どん引き ( = donbiki) because it is not appropriate at all and spoiled the party.

Yeah, what a turn-off! Huh? So they say,


= Eeeh! Maji de?

“What? Are you serious?

マジ で? ( = maji de?) : slang (very casual) : ”Are you sure?” “No kidding!” “Are you serious?”

(We can just say 「マジ?( = maji?))

 You’d better not use this with your your teachers.


frenchbulldog マギー先生より  = Magi-sennsei yori = From Maggie-sensei


= Minna ga donnani donbiki shitemo shiken wo shimasu karane.  

No matter how much you got turned-off, I’m giving you the test anyway!)


= Minmasan wa donnna toki ni donbiki shita?

Everyone, tell me what situations make you feel DONBIKI?


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  1. Hi Maggie sensei,

    I have a question that is not about どん引き, but one of the example sentences instead.

    In this sentence, the secretary said something. Why is it written as 秘書の加藤さんが言っていました? Shouldn’t it be 秘書の加藤さんが言いました?

    I see past tense verbs like that sometimes. Why is there a need to change it to the ている form? Thanks very much in advance.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      Happy New year!
      Good question.
      When you quote what someone has said, you can use 言った・言いました or 言っていました・言っていた but 言っていました・言っていた

      The difference is,

      A) 昨日、おごってくれるって言ったよね。
      = You told me yesterday that you were going to treat me, didn’t you?
      * You focus on the action, saying something, more. / someone said something in particular time.
      In novels, you use this form a lot.

      ” ~~~~” he said 「~~~~」彼は言った。
      Then she said ” ~~~~ ” すると彼女は言った。「~~~~」

      B) おごってくれるって言ってたよね。
      = You were saying that you were going to treat me, weren’t you?
      * You focus on what someone said more.
      When you simply quote what someone said in conversation, this form is much more common.

      You use 言ってた・言っていました 1) when someone said more than once/said something repeatedly. 2) to describe what someone said more vividly.

      in this case, there is no specific time mentioned and 加藤さん might have repeatedly mentioned it or

      1. Thanks very much Maggie sensei. Feels like a nuance thing that I just have to get used to from experience. Happy new year!

  2. Your lessons are very useful, thank you for posting so frequently. I have one question. I have seen this sentence written in this two different ways: 雨が降る and 雨は降る. I would like to know what’s the difference between them or which one is the correct one. Thank you.

    1. @Yotsuba

      Hello Yotsuba,
      the difference between は and が is complicated but the main difference is
      が:emphasizes what comes after
      は:emphasizes what comes before

      You usually use が when you simply describe the weather, it is raining/it will rain/ It rained.

      Ex. 明日は雨が降る。(明日は雨が降ります。)

      * past tense
      Ex. 昨日は雨が降った。(昨日は雨が降りました。)

      *present progressive
      Ex. 今、雨が降っている。(今、雨が降っています。)


      You use は when you show the contrast.

      = It won’t snow tomorrow but it will rain.
      (showing the contrast between the snow and the rain)

      Ex. 何故、雨は降るのですか?
      = Why does it rain?

  3. konnichiha
    first, I want to say that you’re my number one teacher.. Every day, I take new lesson to study and I have all your lessons printed and review them from time to time. I still have so much to study from this site.

    I have question.. it’s related to passive verbs, though:
    Kare wa mina ni donbiki sarete ita. (shouldn’t the meaning be everyone were turned off by him(
    so why we didn’t say: minna ha kare ni donbiki saremashita??

    what I know so far is like :
    The cake was eaten by him= keeki ha kare ni taberaremashita.

    thank you my # 1 teacher.. !MUSIC! !star! :yy:
    why don’t you teach us in Saudi Arabia.. they need someone qualified like you.. shall you come if there was any teaching opportunity.. I’m really looking to meeting you in person boucingheart!

    1. @Roro

      Konnichiwa Roro! I am very happy to hear you have been studying hard from this site.
      Q: Kare wa mina ni donbiki sarete ita. (shouldn’t the meaning be everyone were turned off by him(
      Ah good point! Yes, that is a direct translation.
      Passive sentence is hard to translate. (Especially this word, ドン引きされる)
      Since the subject of this sentence is “kare= he”, it may be more natural to translate He turned off everyone.

      Passive form lesson is coming soon!
      I mentioned the translation problem in that lesson.
      Awww how sweet… Thank you for your nice message.
      I am sure there are many good Japanese teachers in your country. I am doing this for fun. :D

      1. thank you for your fast reply :tulip3:

        So, in that case, if I say: (minna ha kare ni donbiki sareta) , is it right?
        I know that particle ni comes after the doer, correct me if I’m wrong.
        passive is fine with me.. but sometimes I find the opposite of what I’ve already studied :((

        sigh~unfortunately, we don’t have teachers.. even if someone is willing to teach, they won’t allow her since none has official teaching certificate. :cryingfirl:

        1. @Roro

          OK, here’s the pattern.
          A wa B ni donbiki sareta.

          A did something strange and that creeped B out. (A’s behavior/what A said made B feel uncomfortable)
          = A turned B off (←B was turned off by A)
          = A creeped B out (←B was creeped out by A)

          Trust me. The simple passive tense is much easier to understand. This particular slang word is more complicated. :)

  4. what makes me feel donbiki ね?For example, when a guy approaches me and one of the first things he tells me about himself is what kind of car he has, how he organizes great parties at his house, or how I m “special” -__-; that really turns me off!

    1. @Aki

      I totally agree!!! Also マザコン男 is donbiki for many Japanese girls.
      (マザコン男 = A guy who depends on his mother too much (or mother still takes care of him too much) or shows too much love towards his mother in front of one’s girlfriend.)

      1. that too!!! so true! I mean, I don’t want him to disrespect his parents/siblings cause he needs to be a “family guy” in a way but too much attachment is ダメ!
        also, if he keeps bringing up his ex girlfriend into our conversation, and especially if he compares me with her (like “oh anna used to do it like this and you do it like that” or “sarah cooked spaghetti a bit different and I liked that”) that’s a TOTAL ABSOLUTE どん引き !!

        1. @Aki

          Oh, no “ex-talk”, either!! You know what? We can go on and on… There are so many どん引き examples in the world! :lol:

  5. マギ先生がすきよ! ww レソンありがとう! wあたしの日本語は本当わるいです。

  6. That helps a lot, and it confirms that the way I was trying to understand your example sentence is in fact the right one, and not in the extra example I provided.

    The trick was in the word ドン引き, then, and not necessarily the “に”.

    Thanks for the help, much appreciated. I’m enjoying hearing more about these words that I hear from (for example) my students a ton that I’m not quite 100% on. 微妙 was another one, and I was happy to see it a few posts below.

    1. phinehas-san,

      Sorry! I went out without finishing my last reply …I wrote it in hurry so it may not make sense but I am glad to hear it helped you somehow.
      You are right. The trick was in the word DONBIKI. And it complicates more with ~saseru+~ sareru.
      In a way, it is funny that I have never imagined myself thinking about this word this seriously before.
      But anyway, it is a fun word to remeber. Older generation won’t understand the meaning though.. Matane!

  7. Hello, this is my first time to your site and I’m really appreciating this great information! I will certainly be visiting quite often.

    I have a question – reading through some of your examples on how to use this word, I stopped at this one: “彼は皆にドン引きされていた。(=Kare wa mina ni donbiki sarete ita.) He turned everyone off.”

    Right now the passive voice is something I’m working at, and I am a little confused as to who is being turned off in this statement. Particularly, I’m having trouble with the “に” particle.

    If you had given me the English sentence and asked me to translate it, I probably would have nearly the same example sentence, except I would have switched 皆 and 彼, (皆は彼にドン引きされていた).

    Your example sentence sounds to me like “They turned themselves off on him” – of course, I’m not saying that’s wrong, I’m just wondering if my understanding of the word is off. Please help, thanks!

    1. phinehas-san,

      Hi! Nice to hear from a new person!! Great question!
      As I mentioned in my saseru+saserareru lesson,it is not so common to use a passive form in English so I translated some sentences in this donbiki lesson not using passive form to make things easy to understand.

      “彼は皆にドン引きされていた。(=Kare wa mina ni donbiki sarete ita.) is very hard to translate. If I have to translate the sentence, “He turned everyone off.” into Japanese, it would literally be 彼は皆をドン引きさせた。(He caused everyone’s “donbiki” reaction.)
      Situation-wise, it is the same thing as 彼は皆にドン引きされていた. While the first sentence focuses on his action, the second one describes the situation.
      If you say 皆は彼にドン引きされていた, that means, “He got turned off by everyone”.

      If you think ドン引きされた as “Donbiki reaction wo sareta”, it may be easier to understand.
      Hope this helps…

  8. 質問がありますが、「ドン引き」に関わりません。

    ”He’s totally my type! And I could use a boyfriend!”


    1. Harin-san,
      Thank you for visiting ABC lesson as well!
      We use もろ to emphasize words. It means “very” “entirely” “totally” or “completely”. But it is a bit different from 超、激。

      もろ(or モロ)タイプ is the most common word to use MORO.
      Recently I posted a lesson about DONBIKI and you can also say もろ+引く(HIKU)

      Ex. あんなことを言うなんてもろ引いちゃう! (He really turned me off by saying that.)
      Ex. もろわかり =obvious あなたが彼のこと好きってもろわかりだよ。(It is obvious you like him.)
      Ex. もろ嘘だってわかるよ。(Moro uso datte wakaru yo) = obviously lie, We can tell it is a lie obviously.
      Ex. もろそのもの
      When you see a really good copy, you can say “もろ、そのものだね!”(That is exactly the same.)
      Ex. もろ+人の名前
      (彼ら)もろジャニーズだ!They look exactly like Janiizu (->Japanese idol singers.)
      Ex. もろ見え (to expose something)

      ABC lesson might have more colloquial expressions than my Japanese learning site. But if you feel like it, please visit there again.
      One last thing,
      構ったら ->? You mean “if you don’t mind?”
      You can ask me from any of my sites!

      It is not a proper example for this site(!?) but you might see モロ見え (to show or expose something entirely) in the explanation of “adult videos”

  9. 私は本当のmoronですよね。(^_^;)(笑)

    そうですね、金縛りはHalloweenじゃありますよね。( ̄□ ̄;)

    ところで、私は以前、Victorのビデオを見た前に、「金縛り」を聞いていました。 But I still confused it with Halloween LOL




    Does 起きられなかった mean “not being able to get up”? And what means あったらいつでも?

    1. Mikaさん、

      例えば、かっこいい男の子が雨の日にいつも使っている傘を貸してくれてその傘がピンクのハローキティー柄だったらドン引きでしょ!(For example if some cool guy lends you his umbrella in a rainy day and you find it is a pink Hello Kitty umbrella, you will feel DONBIKI, right?)
      As for your questions,
      あったら : If there is 
      いつでも :anytime
      Means if there is anything you don’t understand, please ask me anytime.

      okirarenakatta : You are right. It means not be able to get up.
      I couldn’t get up because of Kanashibari.


  10. 今日は!


    ところで、マーギ先生は、あなたの助手に、ユカリさんに、働きすぎてさせないでくださいね。 (ーー;)

    金縛りにパーティーをさせてください! (#^.^#)

    Happy halloween!

    1. Mika-san,

      そうですね、ドン引きは、「寒い時に外でバスが来るのを待たなきゃいけないの時」よりも〜〜〜〜っと驚く時に使います。特に意外な人が意外な時に意外なことをなんか言ったり、やったりする時によく使いますよ。(igai = unexpected) 
      金縛り(Kanashibari) ?すごい単語を知っていますねえ。(笑)なるほど!Victorの動画を観たんですね。
      金縛りは動きが取れない時、特に朝寝ている時、動けない時に使います。霊に取り憑かれて金縛りにあうと考える人もいます。(We use the word Kanashibari when we can’t move at all. It usually happens in the morning while you are sleeping. Some consider it happens when you are possessed. 動詞は”あう” とか”襲われる”(=osowareru) です。
      Ex. 朝、金縛りにあって起きられなかった。(asa kanashibari ni atte okirarenak natta.)
      Ex.朝、金縛りに襲われた。(=asa kanashibari ni osowareta.)
      Anyway Happy Halloween! 是非、Partyに来て下さい! 
      返事を日本語で書きましたが、わからないことあったらいつでも聞いてね。(I wrote this comment in Japanese but if there is anything you don’t understand, please don’t hesitate to ask me anytime!)
      これからも助手のYukariにはしっかり働いてもらわないと!Yukari! Yukari!! Where are you??????

  11. Thanks for the lesson about “Donbiki” !

    Ha ha, the picture of Maggie sensei is too cute, her expressions are always priceless ! XD

    Oooh by the way… Happy Halloween ! :D

  12. Tom-san wrote :
    Great lesson!
    I often feel ドン引き www

    I think what Larry meant is “how can you type if you are a dog?” Because dog’s don’t have fingers.

    Larry, don’t be too serious about the dog thing xD
    ん?最初に書いてくれたコメントが消えちゃったかな? I wonder why but your first comment has disappeared…

    Thank you for your comments!
    (Now I see what Larry-san meant!) 有り難う!!

    1. Larry-san,
      例え私は犬でもどうやって人間を使うか知っています。助手のYukariが全てタイプしています。(=Tatoe watashi wa inu demo douyatte ningen wo tsukauka shitte imasu. Joshu no Yukari ga subete taipu shiteimasu.)
      Even if I am a dog, I know how to use people. I have my assistant, Yukari and she types all the lessons for me.

    1. zeptimius-san,

      We use them both!
      Actually I typed them in both ways on purpose so that people can learn them both.
      I think I mentioned in other lesson but we tend to use KATAKANA for slang. Also young people mix up with Katakana , Hiragana and Kanji freely. There are no rules for slang or new fun words.
      For example, まじで? マジで? ->We use them both.
      Here are other examples :
      ヤバい!ヤバイ! やばい!(=yabai) (It is another slang. I will make a lesson sometime. It means dangerous, bad or great!)
      超美味しい! チョー美味しい! (=chou oishii!) Very delicious
      微妙! ビミョ〜! (=bimyou) (check my bimyou lesson)

      Not just slang or new words, sometimes we write regular words in Katakana to make it look more hip!
      彼は普通の男の子だよ!(=Kare wa futsuu no otokono ko dayo!)

      This must be very confusing for nihongo learners but I think you should know this trend just for your information.

      Mata kitene!

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