What is an English counterpart to the Japanese signal word, “Dokkoisho” uttered unconsciously in such case as sitting down on the bench?

When you get old, it becomes tough to move your body. We Japanese, particularly old people and the middle-aged use to utter a signal word or interjection, “Dokkoisho” when we sit down on the chair, bench or stone on the roadside and when holding up a bulky and heavy thing like heavy luggage. It sounds like a kind of sigh or onomatopoeia.

It may be similar to ‘upsy-daisy,’ but “Dokkoisho” is addressed to yourself as a monologue, and seldom used by young people or people who are in the prime of age. When you start to say “Dokkoisho” in taking any motion, it’s a sign that you’re getting old. It has a tone of both “Relax” and “Be aware of the action now you are taking.”

I’m curious to know if there are counterpart words to “Dokkoisho” in English.

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    @kosmonaut. I’m just asking “English expression” for an occasion taking a motion for relaxing, or bracing for a pressure by presenting an example of Japanese word “Dokkoisho.” as a clue. If users consider this is the question out of order or inappropriate, they should have ignored my question. I’ve been benefitted tremendously from this forum in expanding vocabulary of English and knowledge of its usages by finding counterpart to our language as a short cut. I don’t expect to learn any other languages through this forum. Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 3:51
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    @Kosmonaut. To supplement my foregoing comment, I got 11 votes and a Nice Question badge for the above question in six hours since posting the question, so the answerers did the same, which I think endorses what I said above, and the users of this forum have broad perspective and flexible elbowroom in discussing the subject associated with English language. Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 5:15
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    @Yoichi Oishi: "If users consider this is the question out of order or inappropriate, they should have ignored my question." Stackexchange's value is in its narrow scope — adhering to strict rules and closing those questions that do not fit. There are many off-topic questions that one could pose that would get a lot of upvotes simply because they are interesting. You can also sometimes see answers that don't answer the question, but get upvotes for having interesting content, or cool pictures. However, if the site doesn't stay on topic, it loses its value as a resource.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 12:37
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    @Yoichi Oishi: What you could do is edit out the Japanese part and just give a description of this sense that you want to convey. The reason for leaving out the Japanese part is that we don't want people to start discussing the nuances of the Japanese word.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 12:39

8 Answers 8


While lifting yourself or an object, you might say oof, an onomatopoeic word: "Oof, it's difficult to get up from here."

After exerting yourself, whew: "Whew, that suitcase was heavy."

While trying to move, if your balance is shaky, whoa: "Whoa!" or "Whoa, I'd better be careful." This might be said as an admonition to yourself, or as acknowledgment that you do need a hand or need to hold the railing, when someone else is around. I think this is closest to the idea of telling yourself to relax and be aware.

I don't think speakers often say these to themselves without listeners present, so I'm not sure any of these are quite what you're looking for.

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    +1: Though I prefer Callithumpian's "easy does it" I think "whoa" or "whew" are more likely to be uttered (when the utterance is not an actual grunt).
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 20:42
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    Note that 'oof', 'whew', and 'whoa' are all widely used by all age groups. A 20-year-old might say 'oof' when lifting a heavy appliance, while a 90-year-old might say 'oof' when standing up.
    – krubo
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 2:36
  • I would add "ooh", especially if said in a somewhat higher pitch, with two distinct tones proceeding from high to lower. This indicates a measure of surprise but fits perfectly with surprise pain or discomfort where the surprise is more pronounced than the pain itself.
    – ErikE
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 18:47

My best guess, and one I have heard older folks say to themselves in such circumstances:

easy does it
used especially in spoken English to advise someone to approach a task carefully and slowly.


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    +1 This is probably how I'd translate it, given that there's no literal cultural equivalent. "Easy does it" can be said to oneself, under one's breath, as well as to others.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 20:39

Dokkoisho, along with yoi-sho, wa-shoi, and sei-no all have quasi equivalents in English, albeit with regional variations.

Respectively, I'd suggest, "oomph," "one-two," "heave-ho," and "alley-oop."


In Minnesotan English, which in turn gets it from Norwegian, there's the interjection, "Oof-dah!" or "Uffda!", said when lifting heavy objects and being literally and figuratively overwhelmed.

  • +1 This is prevalent in the Midwest and other places that feature a large Scandinavian-American population.
    – Zoot
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 19:11
  • That’s hilarious! Interestingly, I don’t think Norwegians would use uffda in this situation. In actual Norwegian, it’s more used to express sympathy (“Oh no, that’s dreadful!”), disgust (“Eurgh!”), or disapproval (“Tchah!” or “Tut-tut!”). Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 22:16

Not universally used, but another possibility would be "here we go", having the sense of 'beginning a difficult undertaking'. Callithumpian's "easy does it" is probably the best verbal translation, though.


I think a difference to note is that Japanese has a lot of what could be called set utterances. In situation "A" a Japanese person will say "1" and pretty much every other Japanese person will too. English speakers on the other hand will say some of the suggestions above, or whatever they feel like. They might also make a non-verbal, grunt-like utterance in the situation.

  • Would you elaborate on what you mean by “1” in your line, “In situation "A" a Japanese person will say "1"? Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 8:09
  • Yoichi, what I meant was that in a given situation, Japanese people tend to make the standard response when English speaker might choose from a range of responses, or even create their own. In a drink/toasting situation Japanese people will say "Kanpai!", when someone arrives home they say "Tadaima." and the other person says "Okaeri." At work for example "Osaki ni...otsukaresama". I'm not saying there arent set phrases in English, of course there are, but it seems in Japanese there is much less choice for what to say in some situations. Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 4:55
  • I totally agree with what you're saying. We have very limitted choice of words in motion-related expression such as 'Dokkoisho'though we have broad range of word choice in other sensory or emotional area, such as "Wabi," "Sabi" and "Fuzei," "Monono-Aware" as you're familiar with. We only have 'Sayonara' when parting with someone We only have "Arigatou" in Tokyo Area and "Ohkini" in Osaka area when exressing "Thanks a lot,"(though strictly saying, there are lot of other variations, but we seldom use them). You gave me a new discovery on the trait of our language. Thanks a lot. Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 11:28
  • Is "1" mean "one" pattern phrase? Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 11:35
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    +1 for non-verbal grunts which is what I seem to be doing a fair bit now that I'm middle-aged (-: Commented Jun 27, 2011 at 3:15

I reckon, when old people sit down, they usually say:


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    @To all answerers. Thank you for giving me many of prescious input. Having seen all those helpful input from you, I tried to categorize English counterparts to “Dokkoisho” for either self-warning before taking a motion and relaxing sigh after taking a motion as follows; (1) “Self-blacing-for” exclamation before or during motion: (a).Onomatopoeic:Oof, Ooh, Oof-dah, Uffda (b).Verbal: Here we go. Easy does it, One-two, Heave-ho, Alley-oop. (2) “Relaxing sigh” after motion: Whew, Aah. Do you think this classification make any sense? Commented Jul 4, 2011 at 0:44

I often heard my dad say 'steady the bus' when doing things which didn't come as easily as they used to.

I had probably misheard. Apparently, it was Steady, the Buffs!

The Oxford English Dictionary says the expression is a reference to the army regiment and means “hold on! keep calm! be careful!” No origin is given.

He would also say a variant to people a bit 'squiffy' or unsteady on their feet.

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