ひま: "bored" or "free / available"?

I first encountered ひま in the phrase

わたしは とても ひま です

which is translated as "I am really bored."

Now there is a new phrase

いつ ひま ですか

which is translated as "When are you available?" (even though the clue is still "bored").

I started looking at dictionaries, and nowhere do I find the "bored" meaning for ひま, so does it even exist?

July 16, 2017


I think とても is also important here: it could be that this is just a figure of speech by saying "I am very free" that it actually means being bored.

I'll ask a Japanese person about that.

July 16, 2017 is my go-to dictionary for Japanese - although it doesn't explicitly list "bored" as an entry, a phrase containing the same kanji is listed as meaning "killing time", so maybe it's something to do with idiom, e.g. "I'm doing nothing" might mean "I'm bored"?

July 16, 2017

Interesting. I had looked for both "bored" and ひま on jisho and found nothing, so I'll try to remember to add a kanji search next time.

From what you have found, it sounds like a very specific kind of bored (not the boring-movie or boring-meeting kind of bored). Japanese speakers, can you confirm this?

July 16, 2017

I checked Goo and Weblio (the two common dictionaries used by Japanese people), and non of them uses ひま to indicate "bored". They both define it as "having time during which you are not obliged or committed to do anything". Here are the links to the entry in both sites ( and (ひま). Commonly, the two words associated with boredom are 退屈 (たいくつ)used for (bored) , and つまらない used for (boring).

July 16, 2017

Bored because you have too much spare time and nothing to do.

If you check it up with "暇だ" or "暇な", or an entry labelled <形動> you will get this meaning.

July 16, 2017

'暇' is an extra time. free time. Against 'busy'. High school students sometimes say '暇だ'. Mother says '暇なら、勉強しなさい'. The shop clerk says '暇だ' when customers few.

The patient suddenly cancels the dentist reservation. The dentist says '暇になった'.

I think that it does not use '(あなたは)いつ暇ですか' on the business. not polite.

It is used friends each other when they want to play together.

July 16, 2017

みなさん, thank you!

I am in process of watching my very first Japanese dorama ("Atelier" on Netflix - don't judge!), and as serendipity would have it, the protagonist says ひまだ when she has to mind the store and there are no customers.

July 17, 2017

I would like to add my before opinion. The case that I do not recommend to use '暇ですか' on business, it is to a customer (the person who not belong to the same company). The firm has extra time means the job is a bit. Therefore it is bad meaning.

July 22, 2017

In Japanese bored is たいくつ or the kanji 退屈。So, 退屈ですか?Whereas ひま is to be free, or have time. Your boss might say すみません、今ひまですか? Have you got a minute...

July 21, 2017

In your example, do you think 'ひま' resemble 'AVAILABLE'?

eg. 'someone be available'.

August 10, 2017

Yes, it's certainly used like that sometimes.

August 11, 2017

I see. It is difficult that I get correct feelings and nuances from these words.

In dictionary, about 'available' is written '(すぐに)利用できる、入手できる、得られる' in the dictionary.

The explanation includes 'できる'. And the word 'available' includes 'able' at the end as well.

So I have think this is a positive word. I don't think 'ひま' is a positive word. Though 'おひまをください' or 'おひまを取らせていただきます' are old fashioned phrases. The meaning is 'I will quit (your job).' or 'I will divorce to you'.

I could not make these words connect.

But I feel gradually closer after hearing you say.

August 11, 2017
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