I keep hearing something that sounds like "naninanidesu", but what does it mean?

I have been listening to a lot of Japanese audio for my listening exam today at University using the recommendations here in the community (thanks again for all your suggestions). There is one phrase that I have been hearing repeatedly that sounds like they’re saying “nani nani desu”, but I’ve no idea what that is for sure. Google is returning no results for me, so I might be mishearing it… any idea what it could be?


なになに is a vague pronoun. Kind of like assorted whatever. It should be in your grammar book. And I should know the right term for it, but I don’t.


I am up to lesson 10 in Minna no Nihongo 1. If it is in there, I don’t think I’ve encountered it yet.

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You’re level 5, so you probably already got the kanji https://www.wanikani.com/kanji/何

That word can mean “what” in English, but it can also mean “something” in other contexts.



If you are actually hearing なになに it’s like saying “something something” in English. It’s a filler.

Other similar ones are なんちゃらなんちゃら, ほにゃらら, まるまる, and probably others.


Yeah you’re right. I have learnt that Nani or Nan as means “what”. But then wasn’t sure when I heard “what what” xD
It meaning something makes a lot more sense!


I like むにゃむにゃ。


My teacher uses this to indicate

  1. variation in possibilities, like nani nani ga suru
  2. in speaking practise to indicate I should fill in a variation. assignment f.e. you forgot your naninani at the resaurant. make a phonecall to retrieve it etc.
  3. if she herself is struggling to find a word in English or Dutch when she wants to help me out (she is Japanese)

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