Cool Compound – 初耳


Short and simple today. 初耳 (はつみみ) is a nice quick way to say that you’ve heard something for the first time. Makes sense, right?



is 40% more efficient than this:


And 初めて聞いた (the pattern I always used that now makes me think of an Eastern-European-accented “First time I hear this!”) I think should really only be used as a modifier, i.e. 初めて聞いたとき.

8 thoughts on “Cool Compound – 初耳

  1. that’s excellent! it really is.
    I don’t know if this has been published on the blog before, but I like this compound when pondering whether I’ve seen or heard of something before: verb + remember

    kiki oboeru kana-
    mi oboerukana-
    sore ga tabeoboeru kana-
    and so on..

    it’s really cool and fluid.

    cheers again

  2. follow up,
    I’m not really sure to what extent you can use it as well. I don’t know how many verbs you can prefix remember with. I have yet to use
    やり覚える yet, so I don’t know how it will go down.

  3. I have the same feeling about 初めて聞いた, and yet I am pretty sure I have actually heard it frequently from Japanese people. For what it’s worth, Google has 526,000 hits for “初めて聞きました”.

  4. Have to agree with Nick here. 初めて聞いた is a perfectly acceptable way of conveying the notion. As for the Eastern-European vibe, that may be for good reason. Many E. European languages have a system of declension and conjugation that renders word order fluid by comparison with English. Japanese has some similar qualities. But this 初耳 is interesting. Apparently they’ve got a 初目(はつめ) as well, which is sort of self-explanatory ( I’m starting to wonder if one can make a compound out of any of the sensory organs…there’s a first time for everything after all.

  5. Good point, Nick. And now that I think about it, 初めて知った is a perfectly valid phrase, so I guess 初めて聞いた really is okay…must’ve psyched myself out that I was speaking weird Japanese.

    Hey Jake, those are definitely cool phrases, but I think they’re most often used in the pattern 見覚えがある. 見- and 聞き- being far more common than any others.

  6. yeah, I kind of forgot about the ” がある ” bit. haha, hope I haven’t corrupted too many of your readers!
    Thanks for the heads up, and thanks for the cool blog (only just found it!)

  7. That’s ace! I thought I’d contracted it enough when I’d got to その話は初耳だ but it turns out I don’t even need the 話! Superb cheese..

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