What Does Genki Mean?

Do you know the Japanese word genki?

You might be familiar with the term, as most Japanese use it in the expression: O'genki desu ka? (How are you?) as a standard greeting. But what does genki really mean?

Misako Yoke, the author of Take Heart! You're Stronger Than You Think shares her definition of genki: to be full of life.

To be full of life

Nick: Let's move in a positive direction, so genki means full of life, a state worth aspiring for, and most people would know this word because they know it's used as the greeting 'Genki desu ka?' How are you?

But genki has various meanings related to both physical and mental state. So I remember in Japan if you saw a fit person you could say 'ano hito genkisou ne?' People would look at you and say 'genkisou ne'.

If you looked tired or sad,  they might say 'doushita no? Genki ni nai'. Do you want to touch on some of the meanings of genki?

Genki meaning in Japanese

Misako: Of course, I love to. Genki uses two Chinese characters: one is the origin, the other one is chi. Chi means our energy. The origin of energy is genki.


Genki, 元気,  can mean the foillwoing; lively; full of spirit; energetic; vigorous; vital; spirited; healthy; well; fit; in good health.

  • Gen, 元, can meand origin; source; base; basis; foundation and root. 
  • Ki, 気, can include the following meanings; spirit; mind; heart: nature; disposition intention; mind; will; motivation mood; feelings

Often we use it as a more spiritual way of bringing up your enthusiasm that is contagious, and lively and animated. We are the origin of genki, that's what I love about the word genki so much.

I am often told that I am such a genki person and I love it, instead of you’re weird. Sometimes that means you're weird, you're too genki. Sometimes you're too weird. But I love the meaning of genki, it's origin of energy.

Also yes, it's not only physical, sometimes we are genki but not genki at the same time because it's got physical well-being and spiritual well-being. Genki has both sides.