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When i was reading an entry about 暗峠 the writer mentioned an expression using 峠 which is「今夜が峠です」, they said that when a close person is seriously ill and are on their deathbed this expression is often used.

親しい人が重病で、生死の境目にある時、我々は比喩的に“今夜が峠だな。”とよく言います。

So what does it mean exactly?

Is it something like they are expressing how difficult a situation it is since 峠 has the meaning of difficult part or does it have the subtle meaning of wishing the ill person survives and expressing their sadness?

Are there any similar expressions in English?

  • When i was reading an entry about  _暗喩_? ?  Ok, it's more often ⇒隠喩 (いんゆ) – HizHa Oct 15 '16 at 19:17
  • 暗峠 is a mountain pass (kuragari mountain pass) that connects Nara and Osaka but i guess mentioning it wasn't necessary. – Moune Oct 15 '16 at 19:34
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    The use of the 親しい人 there may be a bit misleading; closeness has little to do with the expression per se and is at best only incidental to the circumstances in which such a statement is uttered. – goldbrick Oct 15 '16 at 20:40
  • So it's just describing the situation as it is regardless of emotions – Moune Oct 15 '16 at 21:21
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    「今夜が[山]{やま}だ。」とも言いますよね・・ – Chocolate Oct 16 '16 at 1:03
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峠 is the highest point of a mountain path.

It figuratively means the most difficult/hard point to overcome. So 今夜が峠だ means one is the closest to death tonight.

I don't think it has a nuance of familiarness or sadness; it just describes such a quite serious situation.

Another common phrase involving 峠 is 峠を越えた, which means one has survived and is getting better.

3

According to the dictionary:

とうげ【峠】: 物事の勢いの最も盛んな時。絶頂。
Climax, crisis, peak, the most difficult part
example: 病気は今夜が峠だ
http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/155532/meaning/m0u/%E5%B3%A0/
http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/je/52947/meaning/m0u/%E5%B3%A0/

So it should be that "they are expressing how difficult a situation is".

In English I would say something like "this is the moment of truth".

2

“今夜が峠だな。” -- I think emotion (closeness) is part of this expression. If two doctors are talking about a patient, they may not use such an expression (euphemism). Their conversation may be strictly in medical and technical terms.

Are there any similar expressions in English?

峠を越えた http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/over%20the%20hump (turned the corner)

  • over the hump

  • out of the woods !

  • on the comeback trail

  • on the mend

  • on the road to recovery

http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/crisis -- (the hump?), dire straits, turning point, moment of truth, ... ((the proverbial) Cape Horn?)

What have i missed ?

  • I also think that closeness is part of it even if a little, i've read that a doctor who would say that would only be on dramas or a ドラマ見すぎの頭のイカレタ迷医だけです。I wonder why though – Moune Oct 15 '16 at 23:43
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    もちろん「急性期を脱した」とか言ってもいいですけど、普通に専門家同士でも「峠を越えた」「山は越えた」は使うと思いますが。少なくともそれ聞いて妙に感傷的だとか同情的だとか思う人はいません。 – naruto Oct 16 '16 at 1:43

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