Definition of nisei in English:


Pronunciation /ˈniːseɪ//niːˈseɪ/

nounPlural Niseis, Plural niseis

North American
  • An American or Canadian whose parents were immigrants from Japan.

    Compare with issei and sansei
    • ‘I joined that group shortly thereafter and it was there I met Isao Takahashi Sensei, a middle-aged nisei Hawaiian who spoke English with an accent having lived in Japan as a boy.’
    • ‘In order to eliminate the confusion that might arise in the Pacific, the nisei units were to be employed only in the Mediterranean and European theaters of operation.’
    • ‘Our children therefore are second generation immigrants and about 901st generation natives, which makes them thoroughly indigenous nisei, and so extremely interesting in many respects.’
    • ‘Besides the chief instructor, most of the senior students were nisei or sansei and several of them had moved to California from Hawaii where they had earlier begun their aikido training.’
    • ‘Her mom's father was a U.S. Navy officer on a destroyer en route to invade Kyushu; her father's dad was a nisei returned to Japan to avoid a U.S. internment camp, an engineer working in a factory near Hiroshima at the time of the fatal drop.’


1940s: from Japanese, literally ‘second generation’.