I ran into the following sentence:


The same phrase appears in another sentence in the same book:


Does 三角や四角 have some special meaning besides "triangle and square"? It doesn't make sense to me with the literal meaning.

  • 1
    I'm a native Japanese speaker, and it doesn't make sense to me, either. Is this person an ordinay human being who can speak freely? What's the context?
    – naruto
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 23:01
  • @naruto The same thing appears in another spot in the book, so maybe that will help. The context behind the first one is that the narrator is freaking out after having a romantic-ish encounter with a girl. The narrator is a completely normal human.
    – Sam
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 23:39
  • It makes no sense to me either, but if I had to guess, and assuming there is no context missing, based only on the fact that triangles and squares are simple shapes, perhaps it just means something like simple/simply or fundamental(ly)? It works, sort-of, in those sentences. Makes me think of Sengai's ○△□ images.app.goo.gl/RDoKywikf9MNTT8C6 -- DT Suzuki* interpreted these three 'fundamental forms' as geometries of formlessness and infinity, and thus building blocks of the universe. > *not exactly hot in present scholarship, but this comment is highly speculative...!
    – henreetee
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 11:17
  • Could you share the title of the book? A broad context may have a hint for this, but for now all I can say is 三角/四角 has no idiomatic meaning that fits here.
    – naruto
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 11:20
  • @naruto Yeah, the book is やがて君になる 佐伯沙弥香について. Sounds like I am probably just missing something though.
    – Sam
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 13:46

3 Answers 3


I have not read the story, but apparently the character pictures emotions as squares, triangles and circles. I got that from a comment found here, which says


So as long as the person who wrote this comment is not making things up or just completely wrong, it is an expression unique to the story that only people who have read it could possibly understand.

Applying it to the second excerpt:


When the character is sitting next to a girl she gets a feeling she can't quite pin down, she compares it to the sound of the waves at the seashore and that unclear sound is trying to convey a feeling to her that is something other than (what she understands as) a triangle or square.

I realize a single comment is pretty feeble evidence, but it seemed plausible enough to post an answer.

  • There's nothing in the book that I can remember besides the two cited passages to indicate she pictures emotions as shapes in general, but I think this makes sense. She's just a kid at the time and didn't know how to describe what she was feeling. Thank you for the answer.
    – Sam
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 18:03

I have not heard of other meanings, but as symbols like triangle are sometimes used to refer to e.g. words / parts of a sentence when eg explaining grammar, maybe the sentence was taken out from such a contect, and it was preceeded by the actual sentence?

  • There are no surrounding sentences that contain a square or triangle character if that's what you mean.
    – Sam
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 22:28

I think it is referring to the practice of expressing unintelligible speech in novels or manga with a sequence of random-looking characters like

△◇ ★彡◼️◇ ¤♡☆_♫ etc.

So, basically, something which cannot be expressed by words but possibly by some symbols/images.

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