Questions about those phrases with fixed words used as a single unit, which typically have a meaning beyond what is obvious from its constituent parts.

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1
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2answers
237 views

“Year of the X” - is there an idiom?

So, if we were talking about "this is the Year of the Dog", I think the correct rendering of that in Japanese would be 戌年, with the reading いぬどし. But does that extend outside of the astrological ...
4
votes
1answer
135 views

ムダ足だった == useless leg?

When I look up the phrase 無駄足だった, I see it translated as "It was a Wild goose chase." I found this bizarre, since it seems like it would mean "It was a useless foot/leg." is this some sort of figure ...
7
votes
1answer
62 views

Meaning of ~と言われればそれまでだが、…

I have found this sentence: 好みの問題と言われればそれまでだが、私はこの店の内装はなんとなく好きになれない。 To my poor understanding it sounds similar to: 好みの問題と言われても、私はこの店の内装はなんとなく好きになれない。 If it is completely different and I ...
2
votes
2answers
183 views

Can [面倒]{めんどう} be used as “boring”?

I've just heard many times [面倒]{めんどう} in anime, in translation is not troublesome but boring. Is it usual? Which is more appropriate? Example: 面倒な仕事です。
3
votes
2answers
142 views

How do you say “after all”, in the sense of reaffirming or justifying a previous statement?

For example: "You should wear a jacket. After all, it's snowing out there." "Of course I bought you a present! It's our anniversary after all." I tried an online dictionary but they gave me a lot ...
2
votes
1answer
178 views

What does 馬鹿も一芸 mean in English? [closed]

I'm wondering how 馬鹿も一芸 should be translated into English. EDICT-based dictionary sites list this phrase with the following translation: 馬鹿も一芸 even a fool has a talent Is this translation ...
4
votes
1answer
185 views

Meaning of あさっての方向 “Asatte no houkou”

I just heard something like: この話があさっての方向に向かっています Kono hanashi ga asatte no houkou ni mukatteimasu It was used when one of conversation partners said something off topic or loosely tied to it. ...
6
votes
3answers
307 views

How to say “all in all”

I have been many times blocked in a conversation because I have no way to translate "all in all" in those general contexts: All in all it takes 15 minutes to get there All in all this movie was ...
4
votes
1answer
116 views

When to use 出て来る over 出る

Here is a sentence from the children's story ももたろう, describing when the child appears from within the giant peach. 桃の中から赤ちゃんが出てきました。 My dictionary lists 出て来る as meaning "to come out" with a note ...
4
votes
0answers
127 views

“Automatic Doors Don't Open For Him”

I remember hearing this idiom which meant someone was so lowly, they were not even considered a person. I don't know the source, but remember it was referred to as a 'common Japanese idiom'. ...
1
vote
1answer
99 views

Opposite of 歯止め?

According to WWWJDIC, 歯止め is used as follows: 歯止めをかける; 歯止めを掛ける (exp,v1) to curb; to halt; to apply brakes; to put an end to The English translations have a pretty good correspondence with the ...
2
votes
1answer
173 views

What is a good idiom for 'not being invested'?

In English there are a few idioms that are variants on the phrase, I don't really have a horse in this race, so... which essentially means "I'm not invested in the outcome of the current ...
0
votes
2answers
227 views

What is the literal meaning of 'マスコミにバラして'?

The sentence is, 'マスコミにバラしてもいいんですよ?' What does this mean, literally? Also, is this figure of speech frequently used? If it is, could you please give me some instances when it is used in daily life? ...
6
votes
2answers
603 views

Is there a Japanese phrase equivalent to the English phrase: “Guilty Pleasure”?

I am at a loss of words to describing to my host family why I sometimes listen to "bad" or embarrassing music. Is there a japanese phrase that can help me tell them it's a "guilty pleasure" of mine?
2
votes
1answer
121 views

Question on the idiom 頭が回転しない

I found the following dialogue on lang-8: A: 駄目だ、飲み過ぎて頭が回転しない。 B: 仕事、明日にしたら? A: Oh no, I drank too much so I can't concentrate on it. B: Why not do your work tomorrow? So does 頭が回転する ...
0
votes
2answers
192 views

心は出血している - what exactly the Japanese idiom for it?

is there the same expression in Japanese for good russian idiom 'Сердце кровью обливается'? 「心は出血している」? 'My heart is bleeding' is not very accurate, not really verbatim. This idiom in Russian ...
3
votes
1answer
196 views

What does “だがたまには下も見るもんだぜ” mean?

There is a suggestively conversation between two men who are fighting each other. A is claimed to be strongest wizard and B is nearly strong as A. Here is the conversation, A:世の中上には上がおる B: ...
4
votes
1answer
109 views

Is ネコでも分かる・サルでも分かる idiomatic?

I heard the expression ネコでも分かる... mentioned in a TV drama as title for a (fictional) book, in the sense of "...for dummies". A quick search on Amazon brings up a few (real) titles ネコでも分かる... or ...
2
votes
2answers
812 views

How to playfully scold someone?

I haven't heard from a good friend for a while, I would like to reproach him playfully, but have no clue what the appropriate thing to say would be. Would 恥を知れ! be appropriate if said in a funny ...
3
votes
2answers
187 views

Is there an idiomatic meaning for 口の中?

I read this phrase in a book: ・・・・[彼]は口の中でうなった。 I'm guessing the うなった is 唸った, or groan, but I'm curious as to if 口の中 has a meaning or implication other than the obvious, inside his mouth. How ...
6
votes
1answer
270 views

How to describe the inside of one's mind?

On one page in my book, I came across 3 different phrases for, what seems to me, subtly different ways of saying the same thing. The first was: 頭の隅に Then: 脳裏に The information I was able to find ...
6
votes
1answer
302 views

Translation of 「そんなことない」

What is a correct translation for 「そんなことない」 and when can it be used? I understand the "this is wrong"/"this is not correct" general sense but is this considered either as harsh or a gentle way of ...
5
votes
1answer
165 views

The thin line? What is 線がうすい's meaning and etymology?

I just found this phrase in my book (I don't know how much context is relevant, this is the entire sentence): それにな、わたしが商人の線がうすい、といった理由はもうひとつある。 I looked up the phrase and found this 線が細い. It ...
4
votes
2answers
200 views

根も葉も火種も — is it proverbial?

I suspect「根も葉も火種も」 is an allusion to something I do not recognize. To what does it refer? Consider this couplet from an amusing song released in March by IOSYS called 「ステマの女」(CD and promotional ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What does ただいま actually mean?

I was wondering what the literal translation really means. I've seen it translated as I'm home but I've also seen it in a few situations where the person wasn't arriving home.
1
vote
1answer
378 views

At what level should we be able to understand Yojijukugo?

In my experience, Chinese language learners are introduced to these 4-character phrases at an early stage (around Chinese 3 in my high school); what I want to know is there a certain aptitude level ...
7
votes
1answer
207 views

Does 換骨奪胎 have negative connotation?

In the book ロボット学論集 by 瀬名 秀明, I saw this sentence (not exact since I'm solely depending on my memory) 2004 年公開の映画 "I, Robot" は,Isaac Asimov の同名の小説を換骨奪胎した別物である. I looked at several online ...
4
votes
1answer
237 views

Questions on the Japanese equivalent of “window of opportunity”

In English we have a saying "window of opportunity" which means that there is specific time period where a certain event can occur. Based on that expression we talk about a "launch window" when it ...
9
votes
2answers
419 views

Japanese idiom equivalent to “take with a grain of salt”

Is there a Japanese idiom equivalent to "take with a grain of salt"? In other words, an idiom which means "don't accept this information as completely true or the complete truth".
7
votes
1answer
209 views

Is there a figurative use to 春風?

I often hear 春風【はるかぜ】(or, much less often, 春風【しゅんぷう】) used to describe the characteristically windy weather of early Spring. I was also certain I had heard it used on occasions as a figurative ...
3
votes
1answer
318 views

Meaning/origin of 三寒四温【さんかんしおん】

Recently I was introduced to the 四字熟語【よじじゅくご】: 三寒四温【さんかんしおん】 ... to describe the type of changing weather one often experiences around late Winter/early Spring. As to the literal meaning of ...
6
votes
1answer
347 views

Understanding “よりを戻す” and “止めておこう”

I don't think us getting together tonight is such a good idea. やっぱり今夜、よりを戻すのは止めておこう。 I would like to understand this sentence better, specifically the (idiomatic?) expression, "よりを戻す." I ...
4
votes
1answer
286 views

What does the idiom 体が余る mean?

I found a list of Japanese idioms (without translations) that I wanted to study, so I sat down and looked up the meanings. Most of them I found in my trusty denshi jishyo, and a couple of them I had ...
3
votes
2answers
140 views

Is 東西二つ idiomatic?

I came across this sentence about a traditional festival in Japan: 阿月の神明祭は、阿月地区を東西二つに分けて行われる災厄除けや病気除け、豊作を祈願して行われる。 (link) The general meaning is clear, but what I don't fully understand is this ...
12
votes
3answers
577 views

What's bugging the Japanese language?

In my JLPT workbook, it has a section which gives a list of idioms that use [虫]{むし}. 仕事{しごと}の虫 (worker bee) 点取{てんとり}虫 (derogatory term for a student who tries too hard) 虫がいい (selfish) ...
6
votes
2answers
302 views

What is the meaning of お気の毒に and how is it used?

Although the there are several definitions in the dictionary: my condolences that's too bad my sympathies What does お気の毒に literally mean? I'm guessing that it might have something to do with ...
5
votes
2answers
206 views

What is the etymology of 赤の他人?

彼は赤の他人だよ — He's a total stranger to me How did "red stranger" come to mean "total stranger" in Japanese? Is there anything that makes this expression make sense more than "That's just what it ...
9
votes
1answer
481 views

Making sense out of Japanese proverbs

I was never able to make any sense out of the following Japanese proverbs or idiomatic expressions: 豆腐の角に頭をぶつけて死んでしまえ。 'Hit your head against a corner of a cake of tofu, and die.' ...
5
votes
2answers
200 views

Do 気が[付]{つ}く and 気[付]{づ}く have the same meaning?

If they both mean the same, is が optional?
9
votes
1answer
507 views

Comparing 気にする vs. 気になる

Consider this example sentence from SPACEALC: あなたがどうしているか気になっていた。  "I was concerned about how you were." What is the difference when 気にする is used instead? I.e., あなたがどうしているか気にしていた。 ~なる ...
4
votes
2answers
254 views

What does あらいだす mean?

What does あらいだす mean? I have been hearing it from my colleague and based on his explanation it means to identify. For example identify the problem. I tried to search the net and it only results to ...
12
votes
1answer
199 views

Can I always use 色々な or do I have to use 色々の sometimes?

On the web I can find many occurrences of both 色々な and 色々の. 色々な seems to be used more often though. Can I always use 色々な and get away with it, or is 色々の the only choice in some particular cases? If ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Taking Class, Course, Lecture - Which verb is fit?

I would like to know how we say taking class or course or lecture in japanese. I have heard about 「クラスを受ける」 and 「クラスを取る」. Are there significant difference? And Is there any other verb we can use ...
5
votes
1answer
232 views

How did the ざ in 様{ざま}みろ get the dakuten?

I am under impression that the first syllable in a word gets a dakuten when it is transformed into voiced form under the effect of rendaku. But in the idiomatic expression 様みろ {ざまみろ}, the kanji 様 ...
2
votes
1answer
587 views

Difference of 「なんとかなる」 vs. 「だいじょうぶ」

are 「なんとかなる」 and 「だいじょうぶ」the same? 大丈夫か? なんとかなるか? 大丈夫よ。 何とかなるよ。 大丈夫さ。 なんとかなるさ。 だいじょうぶだった。 なんとかなった。 大丈夫じゃない/だいじょうぶじゃなかった。 なんとかならない/なんとかならなかった。 ... thanks sorry if ...
7
votes
1answer
310 views

“Never say never”

Since there is apparently no literal translation for "never", how would you translate this idiom ? What periphrasis would you use to express the same meaning ?
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Ways to end a phone conversation

Despite its being one of the most basic element of daily-life Japanese, I often find myself looking for a proper way to end certain phone conversations. Of course, I know the standard: [それでは]失礼します, ...
8
votes
2answers
270 views

Saying 「おかわり」 when requesting second helping: what is being exchanged?

I am aware that the phrase 「おかわり」 that is used when asking for second helping (of meals especially) is an idiomatic expression, so its usage is understood as it is. But, I'm curious about the origin ...
6
votes
2answers
241 views

What's the meaning of すます in 耳をすませば?

What's the meaning of すます in 耳をすませば? How would you translate this?
11
votes
4answers
365 views

“Unsolvable problem”

What is the correct construction of "unsolvable problem"? Is it "解{と}けられない問題{もんだい}"?(Question 1) Plain(intransitive): 解{と}ける "To be solved". Potential form(of intransitive): 解けられる "can be ...