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Goroawase (語呂合わせ) is a Japanese wordplay where series of symbols1, often numbers are associated with words based on their same spelling. It sounds harder than it really is, let's look at the example: 4649 which can mean よろしく. Let's break this down, each number was given a reading: 4 → よ, 6 → ろ, 4 → し, 9 → く. As we can see 4 was assigned two different spellings. It is because each number can have multiple different readings.

Goroawase table

Number (kanji)OnyomiKunyomiOther
0 (零)れい, れ-ゼロ, まる, ま、ない
1 (一)いち, いひとつ、ひと, ひあい、ぼう
2 (二)ふたつ、ふた、ふ、じ
3 (三)さん, さみっつ, みつ, み-
4 (四)よん、よっつ、よふぉ, ほ
5 (五)ご, こいつつ、いつ
6 (六)ろく、ろむっつ、むつ、む-
7 (七)しちなな、ななつ、な-
8 (八)はち, は, ばやっつ、やつ、や-
9 (九)きゅう, くここのつ、ここの、こ-

The table shows some possible readings. Numbers readings are mostly derived from onyomi and kunyomi readings of kanji. They can also come from English words (zero ゼロ two つ four ふぉ ほ), shape (ぼう pole あい English I) or even chinese reading (う). Bigger numbers (like 10) can also be assigned a reading (じゅう, と ).
Now after learnig how they are created let's see some examples of goroawase!


  • 4 し (死) death
  • 648 虫歯 (むしば) cavity
  • 888... パチパチパチ... clap clap clap...
  • 893 やくざ yakuza
  • 18782 いやなやつ (嫌な奴) unpleasant guy
  • 18782 + 18782 = 37564 みなごろし (皆殺し) two unpleasant guys = let's kill everyone!
    Ok now we know some examples of goroawase, the question is where are they used?

Use cases

  • Dates: 1/5 いちご (イチゴ) is a strawberry day, 3/3 みみ (耳) an ear day, 2/10 にと (ニート) a NEET day...
  • Phone numbers: Dentists often go for a phone number that includes 6480 むしばゼロ (虫歯ゼロ) meaning zero cavities
  • Number Plates: x459 しこく (四国) 4580 よこはま (横浜)
  • Mnemonics for numbers like historical dates: 1492 (Columbus discovery of America) can be written as い-よこのくに (いいよこの国) meaning I like this country.
  • To avoid ban or NG filter in chat: 4ね しね (死ね) meaning die!, 56すぞ (殺すぞ) I will kill you!

Now knowing where to look for you won't stop seeing them!
If you want to learn more about goroawase checkout links below:

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  1. In this article I focus on numbers but goroawase can be used with any symbols. For example KitKat can be associated with きっとかつ meaning "will for sure win" so it can be given as a present before exam for good luck