I have doubts about the usage of the phrase どんぶり勘定 below:

Jisho suggested that I should understand it as "rough estimate" of profit, which kind of makes sense to me in this context. However, I cannot find any mention of this meaning in other dictionaries, like Pixiv. Can どんぶり勘定 mean "rough estimate"?


2 Answers 2


It appears that "yes", donburi kanjō is a set phrase referring to a kind of rough-and-ready approach to finances.

If you can read Japanese, this page on Kotobank has entries from both the 日本国語大辞典【にほんこくごだいじてん】 and 大辞泉【だいじせん】. I see similar entries in my copies of 広辞苑【こうじえん】, 大辞林【だいじりん】, and 新明解【しんめいかい】

Broadly speaking, this originally refers to essentially just having a pile of money, and not bothering to record debits and credits and just dealing with things as they happen. The donburi part refers to the donburi bowl, a large bowl maybe akin to some senses of the English word "pot", into which one would put all cash, taking out what is needed to settle any bills, and just throwing more money into the pot whenever paychecks come in.

By extension, the term donburi kanjō came to refer to this kind of rough-and-ready, "eh, that's about good" way of accounting: everything is "petty cash" might be one way to look at it. 😄


Can どんぶり勘定 mean "rough estimate"?

I don't think "rough estimate" is the primary translation of どんぶり勘定. A sentence like "どんぶり勘定でいいのでこの案件の見積もりを教えてください" can be translated like "Give me a rough estimate / ballpark figure for this project", but this does not mean どんぶり勘定 by itself refers to an estimate.

The other two definitions on jisho (sloppy accounting; slapdash bookkeeping) more directly explains the meaning of this set phrase, and they perfectly make sense in the context of this manga, too. In this manga, the phrase どんぶり勘定 describes how the company was able to operate without being concerned about money. It's not about an approximate amount of someone's salary. (Even if it's about a profitable company, the amount of money depicted in the picture is unnatural for an individual's salary.)

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