As the writer described the meaning of 猫の額ほど and how to use it, the following sentence came after it.


My friend told me that this phrase means something like, "If you say 猫の額 when the owner of the house understands that saying and heard you, you'll be considered impolite (so becareful).".

Make sense, since cat can't understand Japanese. But then I wonder why it isn't 猫が分かる人に instead. Maybe cats here are a metaphor or representation of people, which would support my friend's claim.

It could also mean that using the saying in front of a cat is rude since not all cats have 狭い額, but... It's a cat, who cares? Unless the writer is trying to emphasize something.

Either way, I want to know how and why.


1 Answer 1


(Prerequisites: 猫の額 "a cat's forehead" is an established metaphor that describes how tiny a place is.)

I think your friend simply failed to explain this sentence properly. The sentence is clearly talking about 日本語の分かる猫, or an imaginary Japanese-speaking cat.


Read this like so (not a translation but an interpretation):

The forehead of a cat is not necessarily small, and there are cats with a large forehead, too. So 猫の額 might not be a good metaphor. If an (imaginary) Japanese-speaking cat heard the idiom 猫の額, it might be upset and say "Meow, isn't it rude to use our foreheads to describe a small room?"

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