Recently I read the following exchange:

A: 何か食べたい?
B: お肉
A: 肉か
A: 昨晩、使い切ったからな。ソーセージもベーコンもハムすら無い
B: お肉無い?
A: ああ。無い。肉どころかハムやソーセージなどの燻製ものすら無い

Judging from it, there seems to be a large distinction drawn between 肉 and 燻製. Specifically, I'm wondering if in Japanese it's always the case that when you say 肉を食べたい you mean that you want to eat non-preserved meats.

2 Answers 2


You encountered two contextual meanings of 肉. It is fairly common in most languages to use the same word for a concept as well as in a more narrow sense for a specific object.

Compare to English where meat in "a piece of meat" is not the same as "being a meat eater". Japanese distinguishes between a specific object and general category only by context only, not by grammatical construction, so this kind of confusion is common.

  1. 肉を食べたい . Meat in the general sense. Including all meat products like sausages and smoked meat. In this statement meat includes preserved meat.
  2. 冷蔵庫に肉がある. A specific piece of raw meat in your fridge.
  • 5
    – chocolate
    Apr 24, 2018 at 2:37
  • 3
    @Chocolate 「何でもいいからお肉が食べたい」に対して「ベーコンならあるけど?」と返して怒る人はいないと思うので、それこそ「文脈による」というこの回答の趣旨でいいのかなーと
    – naruto
    Apr 25, 2018 at 0:56
  • @naruto はい、「文脈による」ってところは賛成です。
    – chocolate
    Apr 25, 2018 at 1:07

in response to 何か食べたい? "do you want to eat anything?" refers to a kind of dish. I think it's the same in English. "What's the dinner, honey? Chicken" refers to a dish where a chicken meat is a center piece.

So the first three lines set the scene where readers mentally picture a meat dish, which is unusual choice for a breakfast and thus implies a big appetite. But then next, it is revealed that there's no meat piece that's suitable for that, which leads to 肉どころかハムやソーセージなどの燻製ものすら無い

This means not only there's no meat in the fridge that can be used as the center piece of a dish that meets the implied appetite, but there are also no ham, bacon, nor sausages, which are common ingredients of a breakfast and thus could have been an answer that somewhat meets the ask, if not very well.

So all in all, I don't read that there is a distinction between and 燻製. Rather, the distinction is made between a main piece of a meat dish that's unusual for breakfast, vs the kind of side meat thingy that commonly shows up in breakfast.

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