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I saw this phrase discussed on esaura.cc

話が噛み合わない
'There's a gap in their conversation.'
'They can't meet on common ground.'
'They have been at odds with each other.'
'They have not been on the same page.'

Is this the same 噛み as in [噛]{か}み[付]{つ}く 'to bite (at), to snap at, to snarl at' or 噛{か}む 'to bite, to chew, to gnaw'? If so, or if not so, would anyone care to explain or expand on the metaphoric implications of the original sentence (on the assumption that it uses a metaphor)?

Here is the original page: http://esaura.cc/questions/598

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

噛み合う かみあう
(v5u,vi) to gear (engage) with; to be in gear (mesh); to bite each other

Gears have teeth, so it could be said that they "bite" into each other.

gears

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thank you! did you use an online dictionary to get that definition? –  yadokari Oct 26 '11 at 3:48
    
I find Rikaichan (or Rikaikun) invaluable for this. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 26 '11 at 13:22
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Well, I think you can see a relation with gears that have dents (aka teeth, 歯) and when two gears are well in phase, well united, the teeth are properly interleaved. I think you can derive something like the "fitness of bites", i.e., 噛み合う from there.

It's quite far-fetched and purely hypothetical, but still, it make sense (to me at least).

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