ota·​ku ō-ˈtä-kü How to pronounce otaku (audio)
plural otaku also otakus
: a person having an intense or obsessive interest especially in the fields of anime and manga
often used before another noun
otaku culture

Examples of otaku in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Despite its debut in the decidedly less woke mid-aughts, this gender-bending lampoon of Japanese otaku and host-club culture is chock-full of graces and rewards. Eric Vilas-Boas, Vulture, 5 Apr. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'otaku.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Japanese, literally, "your house, your home" (from o-, honorific prefix + taku "house, home"), used as a polite second person pronoun

Note: In Japan the use of the pronoun otaku to refer to young, usually school-age males with poor social skills who devote themselves to technology or some aspect of pop culture began in the mid-1980's; the usage is said to be comparable to the use of nerd or geek in English. It has been claimed that it originated in the column "A Study of Otaku" ("'Otaku' no Kenkyū") by the humorist and essayist Akio Nakamori, published in the manga magazine Manga Burikko beginning in June, 1983. Nakamori does not explain why he applied the word to such youths, but it is hypothesized that it arose from the use of the pronoun among fellow otaku who were strangers, first as a mark of somewhat excessive politeness, then self-consciously as a means of expressing solidarity. See Morikawa Kaichirō, "おたく/ Otaku/Geek," translated by Dennis Washburn, Center for Japanese Studies, UC Berkeley, 2012 (https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5zb9r8cr).

First Known Use

1992, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of otaku was in 1992

Dictionary Entries Near otaku

Cite this Entry

“Otaku.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/otaku. Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

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