The Meaning of Doki Doki in Japanese & English (How to Use)


The Meaning of Doki Doki In Japanese and English - How to Use in a Sentence どきどき ドキドキ

Have you ever watched an anime, read a manga, or played the game “Doki Doki Literature Club” and wondered what the Japanese worddoki doki” (ドキドキ) means? I have certainly seen the word over and over again in all kinds of romantic scenes and even had the chance to use it in Japan. So in today’s blog post, I’m going to tell you all you need to know about the meaning and translation of “doki doki“.

“Doki doki” (ドキドキ) is a Japanese onomatopoeia that mimics the sound of a pounding heart or faster heartbeat. It can mean that the person is excited, nervous, embarrassed, scared, or full of anticipation. However, it is most commonly used in romantic situations and translates as “ba-dump ba-dump”.

As usual, this is just a quick summary and answer to what “doki doki” (ドキドキ) means in Japanese and English. Read on if you are interested in finding out all of the possible translations and meanings of this onomatopoeia. I will also show you how you can usedoki dokiin a sentence and we will talk a bit more about the story behind the infamousDoki Doki Literature Club” (no spoilers).

What Does “Doki Doki” Mean in Japanese & English?

The Japanese word “doki doki” (ドキドキ, どきどき) is a so-called Japanese onomatopoeia – a word that expresses, mimics or is associated with a certain sound. In Japan, “doki doki” refers to the sound of a beating heart and usually, it indicates a pounding heart or a heart beating at a quickened pace.

  • pounding heart
  • quickened heartbeat
  • feeling your heart beating (fast)
  • sound of a heart beating (quickly)

Most of the time the reason behind the pounding heart and the “doki dokisound is a positive emotion like for example love, excitement, or anticipation of what’s going to happen.

It can also be due to feeling shy, embarrassed, or nervous because you are too close to someone you like or alone with your crush. However, it can also be caused by negative emotions like, for example, anxiety or fear.

  • love
  • anticipation
  • excitement
  • embarrassment
  • nervousness
  • anxiety
  • fear

In English, we have a couple of onomatopoeia with the same meaning as “doki doki” (ドキドキ, どきどき) in Japanese. For example, “ba-dump ba-dump“, “lub dub“, “thump thump” or “pit-a-pat“, are very similar. However, in my opinion, they sound less cool and less romantic than the Japanese “doki doki“.

  • ba-dump ba-dump
  • lub dub lub dub
  • thump thump
  • pitter patter
  • pit-a-pat

So whenever you feel excited or nervous and your heart starts pounding or racing you can express that feeling by saying “doki doki” (ドキドキ, どきどき) or “doki doki suru” (ドキドキする) in Japanese.

Doki doki” is not the only word you can use in this situation, by the way. You can check out my other article to learn 10 words and phrases that express excitement in Japanese.

The Meaning of “Doki Doki” in Anime & Manga

In anime and manga, the Japanese worddoki doki” (ドキドキ) stands for the sound of a fast-beating heart and usually means that the character has fallen in love. It illustrates that the character is excited, nervous, or full of anticipation. The equivalent onomatopoeia in English is “ba-dump ba-dump“.

Doki doki
ドキドキ
どきどき

Translation: ba-dump ba-dump (sound of a fast-beating heart)
Meaning: love, excited, nervous, full of anticipation, etc.

Very often, “doki doki” (ドキドキ) in anime and manga refers to the feeling that we describe in English as having butterflies in your stomach. You can see a lot of female anime characters, but also shy male characters, start blushing and their heart goesdoki doki” in all kinds of romantic situations.

That’s why you most commonly encounter the word “doki doki” (ドキドキ) when a character falls in love, sees their crush standing somewhere, talks to their crush for the first time (alone), receives a lovely text or cute picture, is about to confess their love or when two characters are about to touch or kiss (for the first time).

Every now and then the word “doki doki” (ドキドキ) is also used in anime and manga when someone got shocked, scared, or freaked out and their heartrate went up due to fear or anxiety. However, judging from my own experience using the word like that is less common than using it in relation to love or romantic situations.

How Do You Use “Doki Doki” in a Sentence?

In English, you can use “doki doki” in the phrases “My heart went doki-doki” or “Horror movies make me doki-doki“. In a Japanese sentence, you can use the word “doki doki” (ドキドキ, どきどき) on its own, or you can use the expression “doki doki suru” (ドキドキする, どきどきする) to say you are excited or nervous.

Let’s look at some examples!

Doki Doki – Means “Ba-dump Ba-dump” or “Thump Thump”

The Japanese word “doki doki” (ドキドキ, どきどき) can be used as a stand-alone expression or onomatopoeia meaningba-dump ba-dump” or “thump thump“. So in Japanese you can just say the two words “doki doki” to imitate the sound of your (fast) beating heart and express “I’m excited” or “I’m nervous“.

doki doki
ドキドキ
どきどき
I’m excited
I’m nervous
*ba-dump ba-dump*
*thump thump*
*sound of a heart beating fast*

Depending on the situation it can also be translated as “I’m scared” or “I’m frightened“, of course.

Doki Doki Suru – Means “I’m Excited” or “I’m Nervous”

When used in the expression “doki doki suru” (ドキドキする, どきどきする) the Japanese word generally means “I’m (so) excited“, “I’m nervous“, or “I have butterflies in my stomach“.

Doki doki suru.
ドキドキする。
どきどきする。
I’m excited.
I’m nervous.
I have butterflies in my stomach.

Some of you may wonder what about “I“, which is “watashi” (私) in Japanese. Well, when the topic or subject is clear that part is usually omitted and left out of the full sentence. You can read more about that in my other blog post: “How to Say “I am” in Japanese – Don’t Use Watashi (wa)“.

However, what you can do is adding the particle ga (が) to explicitly state that your heart is beating or throbbing as shown in the examples below.

Shinzou ga doki doki suru.
心臓がドキドキする。
My heart beats fast.

Mune ga doki doki suru.
胸がドキドキする。
My heart throbs.

Doki Doki Shiteru – Means “My Heart is Beating Fast”

Doki doki shiteru” (ドキドキしてる, どきどきしてる) is the present progressive form of “doki doki suru” (ドキドキする, どきどきする) and is best translated as “My heart is beating (so) fast“, “My heart is throbbing“, or “My heart is thumping“. It can also mean “I’m excited” or “I’m nervous“, though.

Doki doki shiteru.
ドキドキしてる。
どきどきしてる。
I’m excited/nervous.
My heart is throbbing.
My heart is beating (so) fast.

Same as before it can be used in combination with the particle ga (が).

Shinzou ga doki doki shiteru.
心臓がドキドキしてる。
My heart is beating fast.

Mune ga doki doki shiteru.
胸がドキドキしてる。
My heart is throbbing.

Doki Doki Shita – Means “My Heart Went Pit-a-pat”

When talking about something that happened in the past you can use the phrase “doki doki shita” (ドキドキした, どきどきした) which means “I was excited“, “I was nervous“, “I was frightened“, “My heart was beating fast“, “My heart was throbbing“, or “My heart went pit-a-pat“.

Doki doki shita.
ドキドキした。
どきどきした。
I was (so) excited/nervous.
My heart was beating fast.
My heart was throbbing.

Kanojo wo mite mune ga doki doki shita.
彼女を見て胸がどきどきした。
When I saw her my heart went pit-a-pat.

Kowakute doki doki shita yo.
怖くてドキドキしたよ。
I was so frightened and nervous!

What is the Story Behind “Doki Doki Literature Club”?

Doki Doki Literature Club” (DDLC) is a visual novel and anime dating simulator that evolves around a high school student joining the school’s literature club. The “doki doki” (ドキドキ) refers to the crazy story that will make your heart beat quickly in excitement, anticipation, as well as anxiety.

The cute-looking anime dating simulator is actually a hardcore psychological horror game that contains extremely dark, gore, adult, and violent elements and should only be played at your own discretion. It is not suitable or recommended for children or people who get easily disturbed or triggered.

If you are curious you can check it out here on amazon. On October 8th, 2021 the new “Doki Doki Literature Club Plus” has been released.

Alex (RockinJapanese)

おはよう. I'm Alex. I have started studying Japanese when I was still a high school student and I have been living and working in Japan since 2015. I'm still learning new Japanese phrases and words every day and I thought that publishing them online will be useful for you, too. Hopefully, my study notes and free Japanese lessons will help you to reach the Japanese level you want to have! If you have any questions feel free to contact me anytime! Alex

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