The Meaning of Mada Mada: What It Is and How To Use It

This article will provide all of the information you need on the term mada mada, including its definition, origin, sentence examples, and more!

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What does the Japanese term mada mada mean?

According to Slang Lang, mada mada or “まだまだ” directly translates to “not good enough” or “not yet” in English. However, the term is usually said sarcastically and can also be used to mean “pathetic.” The term is also frequently followed by the word “desu.” According to Nihongo de Care-Navi, “madamada desu” or “まだまだです” means that something specifically still has a long way to go, or room for improvement. 

For example, someone could compliment one’s Japanese speaking by saying the following, per Zoom Japan:

Person 1: Nihongo joozu desu ne! (English: your Japanese is great!

As a reply, the other person could could say that their knowledge of Japanese is “madamada desu,” meaning that they still have a lot to learn.

“Mada: my itself is also a Hindi term, according to Shabdkosh. In Hindi, “mada,” or “मद” means pride, stubbornness, or drunkenness. 

Where is the term mada mada commonly seen?

Many websites, including Urban Dictionary and Slang Lang, assert that it was popularized by the character Genji in the video game Overwatch. Since its popularization, people have begun to make memes of Genji saying mada mada on social media sites including Facebook, 9Gag, and more.

The term is also seen in certain anime and manga. According to the Prince of Tennis Fandom site, “mada mada dane” or “まだまだだね” is a phrase that has been made popular by character Ryoma Echizen. This phrase literally translates to “no, not yet” but can also be interpreted to mean “you have a long way to go,” “still no good,” “it’s not over,” or “not good enough.” In the English version of the manga, they translate the phrase as “you still have lots more to work on.” In the anime, however, it is translated as “You still have a ways to go.” The character says this phrase in a taunting way.

How can mada mada be used in a sentence?

If one chooses to use the term mada mada among other English speakers, they may become confused as to what you are saying. Mada mada is not a common term amongst most English speakers, unless they play Overwatch or are fans of anime or manga. In most cases, the term mada mada should only be used among friends or family with a shared vernacular of the phrase’s definition, or one may risk confusing others.

In this first example, Hal and Will both love to play Overwatch, and are familiar with the Genji meme that has taken over the internet. They are working on a project for school.

Will: Now for the finishing touch, the flag on top of our paper mache Eiffel Tower! What do you think?

Hal: Eh, mada mada.

Will: Are you kidding? We just spent six hours on this and you’re telling me it’s mada mada?

Hal: I’m just messing with you. It looks great. Ms. Landry is going to love it.

Here, Hal uses the phrase mada mada in a teasing way to tell Will that their immaculately-constructed Eiffel tower is “not good enough.” The phrase is appropriate in this context because Hal and Will both play Overwatch and know the meaning of the term. 

In the next example, the phrase “mada mada” is used to mean “not yet.” Jenny and Chris like to watch anime together. Jenny has a surprise for Chris for his birthday.

Chris: Can I take this blindfold off?

Jenny: Mada mada!

Chris: …Please?

Jenny: Mada mada! Be patient, it’s almost ready… And, done! Okay, take off the blindfold!

Chris: A Prince of Tennis cake! Oh my goodness, I love it! Thanks, Jenny!

Here, Jenny uses the term mada mada with Chris because they both have a shared understanding of the term from watching anime together. She uses the term to mean “not yet,” urging Chris to wait to take his blindfold off.

What are synonyms to the word mada mada?

The term mada mada can be used to mean “not yet” or “not good enough.” Word Hippo lists synonyms in English for both of these meanings. These are listed below!

Meaning One:

  • Not as of yet
  • Not at this time
  • Not now
  • Not right now
  • Not so far
  • Not so quick
  • Not thus far
  • Not as of now
  • Still has not
  • Still does not
  • Not just yet
  • Still lacking
  • Not at the time being
  • Not currently

Meaning Two:

  • Lacking
  • Deficient
  • Inadequate
  • Insufficient
  • Low
  • Wanting
  • Limited
  • Incommensurate
  • Scarce
  • Insubstantial 
  • Meager
  • Measly
  • Minimal
  • Scant
  • Slight
  • Spare
  • Bereft
  • Lean
  • Paltry
  • Incomplete
  • Inferior
  • Substandard
  • Suboptimal
  • Subpar
  • Dissatisfactory
  • Second-rate
  • Leaving much to be desired

There are many different substitutes in English one can use for the Japanese term mada mada. If someone chooses to use the Japanese term with others who are not well versed in Overwatch or anime, they may be confused and question what one is saying. However, if one uses one of these synonyms with other English speakers, they are certain to understand what one is trying to communicate.

Overall, the term “mada mada” is a Japanese phrase that means “not yet” or “not good enough” in English. The term is often used sarcastically to comment on something or someone as pathetic. The term was popularized by the character Genji in the game Overwatch, which has led to the spread of memes featuring the character saying the phrase by Overwatch and anime fans alike. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.shabdkosh.com/dictionary/english-hindi/mada/mada-meaning-in-hindi
  2. https://princeoftennis.fandom.com/wiki/Mada_Mada_Dane
  3. https://eng.nihongodecarenavi.jp/eng/entry_7162.html
  4. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mada%20mada
  5. https://www.zoomjapan.info/2018/07/12/no63-language-lets-nihongo-nihongo-joozu-desu-ne/#:~:text=your%20conversation%20partner%20would%20then,not%20yet%2C%20not%20yet%E2%80%9D.
  6. https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/another-word-for/lacking.html
  7. https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/another-word-for/not_yet.html
  8. https://www.powerthesaurus.org/not_yet