Everything You Wanted to Know about Ahegao

If you are reading this page, it is probably because you are curious to learn more about what Ahegao or Ahegao face is all about.  In short, it refers to a specific facial expression you may see young women making on social media or in manga/anime cartoons. Read on for all of the fascinating details.

What is the Definition of Ahegao?

The first part of the term, ahe ( katakana : アヘ) is an abbreviation for aheahe (アヘアヘ), an onomatopoeia for ‘pant’ or ‘moan’. The second part, gao or kao (顔) is kanji  and means “face” in Japanese.

So, the simplest translation is as a “moaning face” or “panting face.” In pop culture it has become a Japanese meme to convey – an exaggerated, *happy* facial expression. This is done in a fun way to connote an overabundance of pleasure.

What is the History of Ahegao?

The term dates back to the 1990’s. Back then some “adult” magazines used the word to describe factual expression of actual women in mature movies that were only for people 18 and older, if you know what we mean. (Wink, wink)

Also it was used on various message boards, including 2Channel, in the early 2000s.

During the 200’s it became more common and started spreading throughout otaku culture.

In more recent years, it has become a face often made by teenage girls usually on cosplay Twitch channels or in TikTok videos.

Why Do People Like Ahegao?

The facial expression has gained popularity in the last few years, especially as cosplay girls, anime girls and TikTok stars have been making the face more on social media, especially on Twitch and TikTok.

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Some have speculated that young men like the face because it shows clearly that the woman is experiencing pleasure.

Other people, myself included, think it is just a fun visual meme and way from Japanese concepts to gain more global expression. I view it as a fun empowering thing for the women that choose to post these images of themselves.

Depending on how it is expressed, it can be fun, cute, sexy or more sexualized. But typically it is expressed as more innocent sexy manner. It has become an “inside joke” with a lot of teenage girls making this face on their social media because it’s a shared meme/joke with their friends that their parents will not understand.

Also, one of the fun things about anime/manga, especially for westerners, is the complete exaggeration of facial features. It’s a rather extreme, absurdist face. Turning an “O-Face” up to an 11. And for that reason, it’s very funny to teenagers across the globe!

Belle Delphine Ahegao

Belle Delphine is a very popular cosplayer – one of the most famous in the world. Belle has leveraged the Ahegao trend and she has helped popularize it over the last few years.

She often makes or uses this face in her social media, and especially on YouTube and TikTok videos.


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A post shared by kittybelledelphine (@belle.delphiny)

Ahegao Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Ahegao Reddit

Ahegao is a very popular subreddit on Reddit. You can find it here.

Video: The Psychology of Ahegao

Understanding the symbolism of the Ahegao face, utilizing Camille Paglia to uncover the secret Gorgon, Medusa, and more present in the symbolic expressions of these anime girls.

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Featured Image Credit: Cold Ones Clips, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Ahegao Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you pronounce Ahegao?

It is pronounced ah-heh-gah-oh.

What is Ahegao?

It refers to a facial expression that includes crossed eyes, a tongue suggestively dangling out of the mouth, blushing cheeks and often drool from the mouth. It is almost always only seen in woman and female anime or manga characters, in a cartoonish format.

How did Ahegao originate?

It started in the 1960’s in Japan and has a historical connection to anime which also was popularized around the same time in Japan. Over the last decade, it has become more popular on the internet and more recently in TikTok videos!

The etymology of the word itself stems from the Japanese word “aheahe” which refers to someone who is moaning or panting from physical exertion or sexual arousal. So the exaggerated facial expression depicts a woman that has lost control due to an intense act of passion!

Is Ahegao Sexist?

Some professors have tried to make the argument that it is “sexist” or glorifies an unrealistic depiction. Honestly, we think this is faux-academic analysis and is basically nonsense and not legitimate academic research.