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I'm reading a passage from a book, here one of the characters is making a few observations about the personality of another character (慶介 - Keisuke) who has moved up in status and is a new member amongst the upper echelons of the aristocracy thereby replacing the old predecessors in the story's universe.

先代も貴族の悪い所を煮詰めたような傲慢な男だったが、この慶介という男は表面上は貴族らしからぬ空気も感じさせていた。

I've hit a snag here, I'm not sure how one would parse "先代も貴族の悪い所を煮詰めたような傲慢な男だった", more specifically "悪い所を煮詰めたような" it seems like an idiom to me and I'm not sure what it means, I've tried searching on Google and I got quite a few hits for this phrase, but no explanation about what it means.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

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    It sounds pretty straightforward to me. Did you look up the words separately? Especially 煮詰{につ}める. – Jimmy Aug 30 '17 at 1:42
  • @jimmy yes I looked them up separately but when it came to parsing it together, it came out quite nonsensical. I looked into 煮詰める too, it means to "boil down" and all example sentences I found containing this word was in the context of food and cooking. There's also a second meaning "to reach a conclusion" which is probably the right one in my example sentence in the OP, but again I'm having difficulties with parsing. – DemiHoru Aug 30 '17 at 14:53
  • I think I see why I found it straightforward and you didn't. It's all a case of differences in language. I'll explain that in an answer. – Jimmy Aug 30 '17 at 17:35
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If no one else is answering..

I myself would not call the expression 「悪{わる}い所{ところ}を煮詰{につ}めたような」 an "idiom" because it simply means what it literally means.

One can certainly 煮詰める intangible objects ('human characteristics', in this case), not just tangible objects that you can throw into pots.

My own TL attempt:

"His predecessor (also) was a haughty man with all (sorts of) aristocratic vice condensed into him, but this man Keisuke apparently had a non-aristocratic air about him."

Without further context, it would be impossible to translate the two 「も's」 very well. The most difficult words in Japanese are single-syllable-long and are written in hiragana.

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While your question has already been answered, I'll throw in a quick breakdown of 煮詰める. It does mean to "boil down", but your problem understanding the word lies with the meaning of "boil down" itself.

To boil down means to "reduce quantity by boiling off liquid" or in cooking terms, reduction. What this does in cooking is gives you a thicker, more condense flavor for soup or sauce. In English, the use of "boil down" focuses on "letting the extra liquid evaporate" while in Japanese, 煮詰める focuses on the "thickening/condensing" aspect.

So in your line 「貴族の悪い所を煮詰めたような」, would mean "it's like he had all the bad characteristics of aristocrats 煮詰めた" → "it's like he had all the bad characteristics of aristocrats boiled and thickened" → "it's like he had all the bad characteristics of aristocrats condensed into him".

It's just one of the cases where the Japanese and English point to the exact same word, but what is taken from that word differed by language. A case of the glass being half empty or half full.

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