What does Ahegao mean?

Published 31/07/2023

Ahegao means? A Japanese term for an exaggerated, orgasmic facial expression. Generally a sexual one, the face is believed to be made due to an abundance of pleasure.

Other definitions

It is a term for a crazy facial expression made in bawdy Japanese illustrations when a character feels immense sexual pleasure. often characterised by rolling eyes, protruding tongue, and heart-shaped pupils. a bizarre orgasmic facial expression. the term comes from the combination of the japanese onomatopoeia for panting or moaning “aheahe” (アヘアヘ) and the kanji “gao” (顔) meaning face. a sexual facial expression derived from japanese hentai and manga. the term has become popular due to photo-sharing websites on social media, where people can submit their photo, to get an animated variant in return.

(あへがお), also called O-Face also called “Oro-Face”, is a term from Japanese pornography that describes a facial expression of fictional characters during sex often used in pornographic video games (Erogē), manga and anime (Hentai). Meanwhile, the Ahegao face has become a fashion trend for erotic enthusiasts in Japan. Many clothes are available with animations and manga characters making the face.

What is a Ahegao face, the hentai face suddenly seen everywhere in 2021?

The expression gives its wearer the distinct and unsavoury impression of having dropped an anvil on his foot while tripping on drugs.

The year is 2021. A virus is raging, people are staying in their homes and a strange specific facial expression is taking over the internet. The expression – called “ahegao” – is characterised by a dangling tongue, crossed eyes and drawling combination of spit, snot and tears.

It is not exactly ornamental, but it is actually everywhere. From ahegao hentai to ahegao Instagram models to popularity on Reddit, it pops up everywhere, in whatever deranged dimension memes are born. But while it may look like nothing more than an overzealous O-face, it is actually much more than that, It is a historic, highly specific hentai species that is fast becoming mainstream as people realise that the seductive “I’ve lost control of my facial orgasms, dad” expression is a rare, viral hybrid of funny and hot.

What does it mean, and is it used in porn?

According to Khursten Santos, a manga expert and Asian studies researcher at the University of Wollongong in Australia, its true purpose is “to exaggerate the orgasmic face to show that the character is having an orgasm beyond normative notions of pleasure”. Designed by – you guessed it – men, the ahegao symbolises a loss of control; a total surrender to the overwhelming urge to cum. The vast majority of people who are like this as you may have also guessed – young women.

Ahegao has existed in Japanese erotic art forums and communities since the 1960s, but it only began to proliferate on the internet of the Western world in the last decade, mainly due to the increasing popularity of hentai on sites like 4chan and Fakku. According to Santos, it is still a common species in Japanese porn comics by both male and female authors, but it has also made its way into mainstream, non-erotic animation, cosplay and selfie culture, where it has been adopted as a symbol of extreme pleasure that can be used to symbolise the enjoyment of anything, not just sex.

Because of its many potential uses, Santos says it has quickly become a meme legend. It is so ingrained in online culture that you can stick an ahegao face on a photo of the lasagna you made to let your 43 Instagram followers know it pleased you. In that sense, ahegao is a kind of emoji – a meaningful, universally understood phrase that can replace words when words are not needed.


Emojis may very well explain the inexplicable, but there aren’t entire Internet universes devoted to most of them. Here, however, they are. Reddit’s multiple ahegaoonly subreddits have more than half a million followers; there are numerous websites devoted to user-submitted ahegao attempts; and there’s even one of those “Elders React To” videos where cute old people try their hand at the lolling expression. There are also celebrities like Belle Delphine who have millions of followers and T-shirts with drooling, ecstatic faces in the throes of delight. Google searches for “ahegao” have also been shooting up for years.

All this begs the question: Why are so many people obsessed with this one, specific facial expression (and why for more than 80 years)? What is it about that face?

As Santos explains, the appeal comes from its utter absurdity. No one really looks that way when they cum, but there’s something undeniably seductive – and a little funny – about turning up the volume to 11 on an orgasm that happens in response to what is probably a disproportionate stimulus (imagine a girl squinting and getting slack tongues because someone has “found” her clitoris).

“It’s clearly unrealistic, but fans find the Ahegao face humorous, as if it were a satire on women’s sexual expression,” says Santos, who explains that in traditional Japanese erotica, female characters are almost always excessive in their reactions to mild sex things. This direction plays on this by overreacting to their excessive reactions, and the result is usually muted giggles from the black depths of yours truly and a multiverse of moist memes whose humor stems from exaggeration.

The other part of the equation is sex appeal, of course. It’s hard to deny that an orgasm powerful enough to turn your face into putty is a sexy idea, and the smart people of the Internet make the most of that fantasy.

Meet the top cosplay girls

On Reddit’s /r/realaheago sub – to which a cool 304,000 “ahegao lovers” are subscribed – hot, mostly younger women post NSFW ahegao faces for an audience of remarkably supportive, gender-diverse fans. Most of the posts are X-rated, but others, are perfect, just a cute girl sticking out her tongue and bubbling cleavage, nothing to see here! Anyway, the posts produce pretty horny responses – “How do you keep your tongue so clean and pink? So fucking hot,” and “I’d love to ride you like a Harley,” for example. It is clear from the posts and comments that “extreme female pleasure” is a common attraction. But what do they get most excited about? Choosing a monthly Ahegao Queen (who is usually naked).

Redditor coffeecreamer06 is a former Ahegao Queen who regularly posts NSFW content on Reddit. She started this branch last year after a fan of her nude photos suggested she try it, and she immediately loved the amount of attention and validation it gave her. “I love the idea of feeling so much pleasure that you have to make a face,” she writes.

MidiSymphony, a female redditor who enjoys watching female ahegao faces, is into it for the same reason. “It’s really a beautiful expression of female sexuality,” she tells me. “Female pleasure is still taboo, so I’m always willing to support other ladies who bring themselves out and do it because it makes them feel sexy. It’s exciting to see a woman feeling herself.”

Male fans

And the male fans? Coffeecreamer06 thinks they do it for a slightly different reason – so they can project their own aspirations of sexual wizardry onto the person pulling the face. “I think men like it so much because it’s a physical way of knowing that pleasure is being felt,” she says. Steven, a pseudonymous ahegao fan who frequents real ahegao, confirms this and explains that he likes it because it appeals to the fantasy that one day he can make someone feel good enough to drool too. “It’s easy to imagine myself as the person doing that to them,” he explains.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a 2017 study found that men’s primary interest in giving women orgasms is not because they care about women’s pleasure; it’s because it makes them feel “manly.” Or more simply but it may be that some men’s interest in ahegao is less about women feeling good and more about their ability to “perform” like a man.

Still, female posters seem to enjoy playing with and taking advantage of men’s fantasies – as a Reddit post “I don’t care where you come, just make sure you drown me in your cum!” shows that can be pretty fun, especially if it doesn’t require doing much more than making a face.

In fact, that’s one of the biggest advantages, it allows people to express and explore their sexuality without necessarily being naked or explicit (although much of it is also pornographic). Like selfies of buttocks or under breasts, it invites praise and admiration in a slightly safer, friendlier way than, say, uploading a close-up of your buttock to Imgur and, in turn, it also invites less threatening responses. Ahegao fans usually say things like, “You’re so beautiful, I love your makeup,” as opposed to more aggressive speeches like, “I’d rip your pussy apart.” Coffeecreamer06 says she loves this part of ahegao – although she has posted X-rated versions of it, she also enjoys how easy it is to get a positive reaction to a photo that is just her face. “If you make your face good enough, that’s all you need,” she says.

How do you practice it?

But how to do it? By strict convention, it turns out. According to Kimi Rito, author of The Expression History of Eromanga, there are three things that make up a great ahegao face:

The person’s mouth must be wide open and the tongues must stick out or dangle.

Various bodily fluids should come out of the face, tears, drool, sweat and even snot.

The eyes should be turned back so far that the pupils are no longer visible. Disturbingly, these types of eyes were initially associated with rape scenes and called “rape eyes.”

This brings us to the more controversial side of this animated version. While almost unanimously accepted as a harmless, fun expression, some people find it sexist and misogynistic – it glorifies women’s loss of control in sexual situations, and “rape eyes” is not exactly a forgivable term.

Santos, however hesitates to put a negative label on it. Whether ahegao is a comic expression of female sexuality or a camouflaged crisis of masculinity projected onto the female frame depends entirely on the context in which it takes place, she says: “In some stories, women take deliberate steps to achieve the ahegao expression, so it’s not necessarily a loss of control, but rather some women enjoy the overwhelming pleasure of a sexual act.”

In that sense, it can be empowering. “But for other stories in pornographic manga,” she continues, “the ahegao is absolutely a manifestation of a man’s sexual prowess. We have to consider that like any form of pornography, is an expression that exists to explore the limits of sexual fantasies, and these explorations are varied.”

Is it sexist?

Stephen Reysen, a psychology professor at Texas A&M who studies hentai, agrees with Santos. In his view, ahegao seems no more or less sexist than other types of media or pornography. He argues that while ahegao glorifies and hyperbolizes an unrealistic depiction of female pleasure, so do beer commercials, Pornhub videos and just about any TV show ever. Whether or not it is sexist, he says, has more to do with the viewer and the scenario than the actual expression itself.

There is also a male variation – although the lion’s share is female and it was traditionally intended to show the frenzied nature of female orgasm, more modern hentai and cosplayers have tried to close the “ahegao gap” by posting more gender-diverse representations of absolute pleasure.

That doesn’t solve the problem of whether female ahegao is inherently sexist, but after talking to women who make it, it seems to be much more empowering than denigrating. As MidiSymphony says, “Any time women can claim pleasure for themselves, it’s a victory. Excessive meme pleasure is no exception – it still keeps the conversation on women getting ready, and that’s something we could use a lot more of.”

Have you watched, experienced or admired Ahegao face?

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