What To Say When Someone Calls You Senpai?

What would be your response when someone blatantly calls you an older person? Even if it came from a place of deep respect, I know a bunch of people who wouldn’t buy into that idea.

This is also the case when someone calls you senpai; a Japanese term that denotes an elder or senior.

When used outside of the walls of Japanese society, there may be cases of raised eyebrows, as to what should be your response when someone calls you Senpai.

When I encountered a similar case with a friend obsessed with Japanese myth, I just knew I was in for a bit of clarification because I didn’t know what it meant.

I got the clarification I needed and that was it. Since I’ve explained that to you, I will then walk you through a series of replies that you can put up when someone calls you Senpai. 

19 Things to Say When Someone Calls You Senpai

What To Say When Someone Calls You Senpai?

I know you’re probably concerned that your response, in this case, might come off bad, courtesy of the fact that there’s no certain way to respond to such a compliment. But, this post begs to differ.

I’ll start with the commonest thing to say in this situation, which is to simply say “thank you”.

Alternatively, you commend the person’s gesture to recognize you as an elder by saying things like “You’re so respectful“, “I’m delighted” or better still take the commendation to his or her parents for raising such a child.

In contrast, you can equally find out if the show of respect is really from the heart by asking questions like “Hope you’re not mocking me” or “I hope you’re serious about that”.

The point of even replying to such a gesture either shows your acceptance or depicts your curiosity. To get the full note of some of these replies, let’s get right into the main context of this post below.

Thank You Kohai

What To Say When Someone Calls You Senpai?

Saying “thank you” is easily the first thing to say when someone calls you Senpai. This is you being grateful that the person acknowledges you as an elder and even proclaimed it by calling you Senpai.

You might want to make sure you portray a corresponding facial expression when saying this, to really confirm that you are truly grateful for such recognition. 

You can also add the “Kohai” term if you know a deal about Japanese honorifics. I’ll explain if you don’t know… because Kohai is the contextual opposite of Senpai.

While Senpai denotes senior or elder, Kohai means junior or younger. So you can use it to complete your gratifying line when someone calls you Senpai.

You’re So Respectful

Aside from showing thankfulness bring saying it, you can praise the speaker’s show of respect in the act of responding to him or her.

With this line, you’re trying to stress the extent of the show of reverence that the person just exhibited.

You can precede this line after saying “thank you Kohai”. It aids further to edify the person’s ability to recognize you with such a title.

I’m Glad You Know Your Place

The Senpai-Kohai term is prevalent in the Japanese working class society. But since there’s always a migration or borrowing of terms all over the world, you can hear this same term in a Western or American circle.

If you have a shady junior colleague at work, who later addressed you as Senpai… it is certainly a show of respect. You can use this line to remind the person of the hierarchical arrangement of things in the office. 

Although this may come out rude, I’d advise you to add a bit of a smile to your face when saying it. This way, the bluntness in your words won’t be too much to notice.

That Is What People with Good Values Would Say

Having good values entails quite some things and according respect is one of such components of good values. However, this practice might look alien in a society where everyone acts without care.

This makes it more right to use this line when someone calls you Senpai because it is rare to see a person with such good value.

You can also reply with this since it is clear that people with good values are scarce and commending one won’t be bad at all.

I’m Delighted

What To Say When Someone Calls You Senpai?

There’s this satisfaction that comes with realizing that someone respects you, to the extent of using an honorific to portray that.

It’s wrong to just sulk it up, so why don’t you say it out? Why don’t you express how glee you are? If you think you can do that… then place this line on your lips.

This is because it is the best way to simply and judiciously express how glad you are, for the recognition which you received from the person. I’m sure the person at the receiving end, will be more than happy to hear those words from your mouth.

You Can Do Better Than That

It can only get better with more lines of recognition from the person. When someone calls you Senpai, it is both delightful and impressive, especially if it is coming from a kid or a youngster.

To encourage the kid’s commitment to being more respectful, you can use this line. Telling the person that they can do more than that serves as a boost to them and I’m sure they’ll get the hook of the encouragement and do more.

In the same vein, this can even make the person give you more delightful remarks, as per your words of encouragement.

Hope You’re Not Mocking Me

I’d recall a friend of mine in high school, who would mockingly call people elders or accord respect to them.

Once he is done with the statement, he will quietly mumble to us that the person thinks he or she is a senior. In his words, “it is pathetic to see them claim seniors when they don’t act like one”. 

Peradventure, this could be the case you find yourself. If you suspect that someone mockingly calls you Senpai, the best thing to do is to enquire from them with this line.

The result might be a yes or no answer, but the bottom line is that you’ll know the motive of the title either via their words or body language.

I Hope you’re Serious about That

Just like the previous reply, you can identify the right intention why a person calls you Senpai by using this line as a response.

While this might be like the previous one, it does not have to do with mockery, but unseriousness. This means that the person who calls you Senpai might not be serious about it but is not in any way trying to ridicule you. 

With this response, you will get to the root of the reason why the person called you Senpai.

Can You Stop That Already, I Feel Old

Like I mentioned earlier in this post, I know a bunch of people who would frown at you for addressing them as elders or older people. You might ask why.

Well, the singular reason ties with the belief, that they’re still young within, so why call them old or senior or something else aimed at creating a hierarchy amongst humans? 

If you’re anything like this people, then you should probably consider this as the right response you should put out to anyone who calls you Senpai. This way, they will know that you do not enjoy the acknowledgment of old age.

I See You’re Fond of Me

What To Say When Someone Calls You Senpai?

In a different context from just being an elder or senior, Senpai can also be used as a term to refer to anyone to who you have a likeness.

So, if someone calls you a Senpai in this type of scenario, you can respond to them by saying that you’ve noticed that they’re fond of you. If this is true, the person will respond affirmatively or negatively if it is not. 

Respect Attracts Good Thing, Don’t Relent

Using this reply might appear you being didactic but it doesn’t matter because your main point is delivered.

If the person who calls you Senpai did that out of respect which is the usual thing, you can tell them not to relent in showing respect, not only to you but to others too. Your point is that respect attracts good tidings from people.

I Guess Your Parents Raised You Right

One sign of a well-raised person is their ability to show respect no matter the situation. If you encountered one of such persons who calls you Senpai, it shows that he or she had a good upbringing.

So you can use this line as a response to them, to show that you commend their good upbringing for being the reason they had to show you that much respect.

Big Ups, You’ve Got Some Manners There

Sometimes, it does not require any special skills to be certified as a well-mannered person. Doing little things like extending hands of charity to people and showing respect, counts as shows of mannerism.

So when someone calls you Senpai, it is a sign of good manners on their part and you can capitalize on that to serve them a response to extol their virtue.

I Thought You Were Insolent, This Proved Me Wrong

Just like showing respect attracts good tidings; it can also rewrite other people’s narratives about you.

If someone you suspect to be rude ends up showing you respect by calling you Senpai, you can react to that with this statement.

It is clear for you and also a way of telling the person that people notice their actions and hold thoughts about them.

Stop That Already, Just Call Me by My Name

I once worked under a boss who doesn’t like titles and detests being addressed by any honorific because of his position. If you’re not addressing him by his name, then you guys have scores to settle.

If you’re such a person, you can adopt this line as your response when someone calls you Senpai. This statement clears the air more and reiterates your preference of being addressed by your name only.

That Is Very Thoughtful of You

Do you know it takes a thoughtful person to recognize a senior when he or she sees one? Even at work or in the academic field, some do not have regard for the hierarchical arrangement of humans.

If you come across someone who calls you Senpai because of your class, it shows that the person is quite thoughtful. 

Therefore, in response, you can chip in this line to laud their thoughtfulness in acknowledging your place.

I See You Know Your Anime Terms

What To Say When Someone Calls You Senpai?

While I was writing this article, a couple of Anime stories and movies came to my mind, because the “Senpai” term is rarely missed out in any anime character development or storyline.

If someone refers to you with this term, maybe they’re fans of anime. Hence, you can imply this line to anyone who calls you Senpai due to their knowledge of terms used in anime story plots.

I’ve not heard of that Before, What Does It Mean?

If you’re ignorant of what Senpai means, then this response is the best you can deliver. There’s nothing wrong if you ask for the meaning of Senpai because it shows your quest to know more.

Someone who doesn’t care will say something like “whatever…” but you chose to know what it means which is a good thing.

The speaker will certainly try to explain to you what it means if they’re friendly and intends to show you respect by calling you that.

Hey Thanks for that, it sounds Asian though… Are You Asian?

There are a lot of things you can get to know with questions. It is not bad to ask the speaker if they’re Asian because the term is clearly from Asia.

This question can lead you into discovering several other things about the person which you do not know already.

Whatever the outcome is, you will get to know if they’re Asian or not and also how they came about the Senpai term.


Before I close the curtain on this edition of “what to say”, I hope you got enlightened, and I duly met your quests for answers.

Remember to scale your circumstance first, before you imploy any of the replies which I offered in this article.

You are also free to share this post with your friends or family, and practically anybody who might need it.

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