The Merriam Webster Dictionary has helped many of us in our time of need, and now, they have noticed both Senpai and Kouhai, and are thinking of adding both words to their dictionary.
According to Merriam Webster’s official website:
Senpai made its first appearance in Urban Dictionary back in 2004, when a user defined it as “an upperclassman.” Other entries (a number of which mention anime and manga) have since been added; it’s defined there variously as “someone older than you,” “someone you look up to,” “mentor,” “senior,” an “older person who you adore.” There are more.
The top definition (as chosen by users) is “someone who will never notice you.”
They have also noticed Kouhai, which is ranked just under Senpai. Accoding to the official website:
“typically translated as “junior” or “protégé,” is often used to contrast with senpai”
However, remember that the two terms are still not yet part of the English dictionary, and are still up for consideration as Merriam Webster is looking at the frequency the word is being used in the English language.
“Senpai is not yet a fully naturalized member of the English language, as the frequent glosses of it in context demonstrate.
But senpai is real. Which we know will be reassuring to a certain set.”
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