What does ahegao face mean?

The ahegao faces have been in the world of manga and anime for several decades. They have been used in compromising situations, very disparate from each other and in favor of the plot (or not).

It has become so fashionable that the merchandising industry has rushed to create hundreds of accessories. In this brieg guide we are going to answer the question ‘’What does ahegao face mean?’’ we will explain what the ahego face is and how it became so famous on social media.

On this page you can find out what an ahegao is.

What does ahegao face mean?

“Ahegao (アヘ顔)”, a characteristic expression of p*rnography in Japan denoted by an exaggerated facial expression (usually made by women or men being penetrated) during sex, characterized by eyes rolled back or crossed (squinting), tongue out and face flushed, demonstrating extreme enjoyment or ecstasy.

The first part of the term, “Ahe (アヘ)” is an abbreviation of “Aheahe (アヘアヘ)”, an onomatopoeia for “gasp” or “moan”. The second part, “Gao/Kao (顔)” means “face.” Thus, ahegao can be interpreted as “face that groans or gasps”. There are other names for facial expressions made at the moment of orgasm.

One of them is “Ikigao (イキガオ)” which means “coming [i.e. orgasmic] face”. The difference between ahegao and ikigao art style is the more realistic drawing used for ikigao, which is found in relatively more conventional works. Others are “acmegao (アクメ顔)” from the French term “acmé (orgasm)”, and “yogarigao (よがり顔)”, meaning “face of satisfaction”.

What does ahegao face mean?

The popular research book on the adult content industry, The History of Hentai Manga, written by Kimi Rito, explains that ahegao has three fundamental points to be considered as such:

  • The whites of the eyes are visible or about to be visible. The focus of the eyes is not fixed, nor are they “rape eyes,” in which the eyes are rolled up in the head and the pupils are not visible.
  • The mouth is open and the tongue protrudes.
  • There is usually saliva, mucus, sweat and other body fluids.

What was the first appearance of the ahegao face?

The first time we could appreciate the ahegao was in the 80’s when the illustrator Suehiro Maruo, who focused on ero-guro, published a manga titled Shoujo Tsubaki. The work in general stands out for being too violent and its vignettes show the signs of this iconic expression.

Shoujo Tsubaki later had an anime adaptation and became one of the most grotesque and disturbing works to date, causing controversy among the anime community because of its origin.

In the mid-2000s, the use of the term ahegao increased, and the drawing style became quite mainstream and began to spread through the otaku culture. In 2008, the first ahegao-themed doujinshi anthology, A-H-E (the name is too ambiguous to be found in nh*ntai), was published, and from 2010 onwards the massive use of this resource would begin.

At that time, facial expression appeared in common p*rnographic videos during the popularization of adult content fetishes in the real-life sex industry. Exaggerated ahegao-like facial expressions also sometimes appear in other non-p*rnographic anime and manga works in a non-sexual context.

In 2015, an image by erotic artist Hirame depicting various anime characters with ahegao faces made the rounds on the Internet, and in the same year, the images were used for clothing designs.

In May 2017, these images began to appear in Western fashion, the clothing depicting among other works an image from the adult manga Danke Dankei Revolution. However, multiple anime conventions worldwide prohibit the use of these garments on the premises, although they do not prohibit their sale.

Finally, not everything is positive in ahegao. China’s Shenzhen Guangcai Trading filed a trademark registration for the term “Ahegao” in September 2018 and obtained approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on April 23, 2019. On July 27, 2020, Jacob Grady, CEO of adult comic book publisher FAKKU, announced his intention to challenge the trademark registration and accused Shenzhen Guangcai Trading of using stolen artwork.


Ellis, T. J. (2021, March 19). The History Of Ahegao: Is It Damaging To East Asian Women? Retrieved August 9, 2022, from Anime Motivation | Where Anime & Motivation Collide website: https://animemotivation.com/the-history-of-ahegao-face-racism-asians/

‌Sherman, M. (2019, October 3). What’s the Story Behind This Egirl Face? An Investigation. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from Jezebel website: https://jezebel.com/what-s-the-story-behind-this-egirl-face-an-investigati-1838371813