Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I often see 手{て}, hand, used in a metaphorical sense to mean something along the lines of effort or presence... but I'm not totally sure.

For example, consider this sentence:

手を[抜]{ぬ}いて仕事{しごと}をしていたら、部長{ぶちょう}に怒{おこ}られた。

手{て}を抜{ぬ}く appears to be a set phrase, meaning, "to slack off."

However, I'm trying to get at exactly what the 手{て} refers to. When I first read this sentence, I thought that if one pulled one's "hand" out, then one simply wasn't doing the work.

What it seems to mean instead, though, is that one is still going to do the work, but not put in an effort.

Is it accurate to say, then, that 手{て}, when used metaphorically, usually refers to "effort"? Would the sentence mean the same thing if it was written like this:

努力{どりょく}しなくて仕事{しごと}をしていたら、部長{ぶちょう}に怒{おこ}られた。

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

手 is such a basic word that it represents many meanings, one of which is “efforts.” Other examples of 手 in this meaning are:

  • 手をかける (take great care), 手がかかる (be troublesome (because it requires efforts))
  • 手が込んでいる/手の込んだ (intricate)

There are too many meanings of 手 to list them up. Look up in a dictionary for a list.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It seems to mean "effort", i.e. "attempt to accomplish something", yes.

The primary not-completely-literal usage of 手 that I'm most familiar with is in discussions of the game of Go, where it generally means "play" or "move" in the game-mechanic sense of "single action by one player", and sometimes "play" in the sense of "manner of playing the game" (as in the phrase 神【かみ】の一手【いって】).

share|improve this answer
    
This is reminiscent of playing your "hand" in a card game. –  qubyte Nov 22 '11 at 10:59
    
The reading is different, but I am reminded also of 上手 / 下手. –  Billy Nov 25 '11 at 4:07
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.