I have a sentence that I read in a manga that has caused some confusion for me. It is an unsaid sentence by a girl who was surprised by an accidental encounter she had with a boy. She was in a robe and seemed to have just left the shower. Here is the sentence and my attempted breakdown follows,


あの時 is the non logical topic.

The unsaid subject of the first clause is the speaker.

びっくりしてらしく - I believe to be 「びっくり」 + 「する(て form)」and 「らしく」 is 「らしい」, meaning seeming or appearing, in its て form but with the て left off

- additive particle. In this case it is following the て form so it will have a meaning of "even though."

なく is the start of the second clause - ???

The subject of the second clause is still the speaker.

追い返しちゃった - "Done" sent away. The action has completed and is a fact. She done sent away the boy.

けど - trailing but, something may be implied.

So my likely incorrect and current best guess and what the speaker is thinking in her head with this sentence is, "That time, even though I seemed surprised, I turned him away."

I'm not sure at all how 「なく」 fits into this or if my thinking that there are two logical clauses here is correct. I think that the "even though" part of my translation sounds a bit funky as well. Of course someone would turn the other person away if they saw them at an embarrassing moment. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks

1 Answer 1


One possible way is to divide the sentence in four parts as follows:

あの時は / びっくりして / らしくもなく追い返しちゃった / けど.

Each part has its own role:

Time (When?)

あの時は, or 'at that time.'

Reason (Why?)

びっくりして, or 'because I was surprised.'

Action & Way (What? & How?)

らしくもなく追い返しちゃった, or 'I turned you away, which was らしくない.'


けど, or 'although.'

(In fact, more context is necessary to figure out the meaning of けど. Note that someone uses けど both meaninglessly and frequently.)

Now, take a look at らしくない. The word comes from らしい, or more precisely 自分らしい in this context, and is the negation of 自分らしい. A 自分らしい act of doing something is to be yourself or be honest to yourself and do it. In contrast, a 自分らしくない action is to do something, not being yourself or not being honest to yourself.

From the discussion above, we can infer the meaning of なく and the sentence:


At that time, although I don't normally do (or I actually didn't want to do) this kind of things, I turned you away because I was surprised.

Addendum on も

emphasizes the sense of negation (ない) when it is used in らしくない. The same applies to らしくもなく.

The question we ask is: Why did the girl say らしくなく, rather than らしくなく? To understand her word choice and her feeling, focus on a causal relationship. As discussed above (and as the questioner mentioned in the comment), the girl did not want to turn away the boy. Then, what made her turn him away? One cause of her doing so is the surprising encounter with him. But, is there any other cause? Here comes into play: By using , the girl emphasizes that herself is not a cause of her doing so (thus the surprising encounter is indeed the major/predominant cause). Also, by emphasizing the sense of negation, she may feel less responsible for what she did.

  • 2
    I imagine the insertion of も between らしく and ない is also something the OP hasn't encountered before.
    – Leebo
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 23:51
  • That is correct, I haven't. It's gonna take me a couple more read throughs to understand this answer but I believe it to be correct. I certainly believe the girl would have wanted him to stay, just as the answer suggests too Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 0:41
  • 4
    @UCProgrammer You can think らしく(も)ない is a set phrase (or a lexicalized i-adjective) in its own right meaning "unusual (for someone)", "not like someone". For example 「怒るなんて、らしくないじゃん」 means "It's unlike you to get angry". This も is a kind of softener explained in questions like this and this. You don't have to translate this, but it's more or less like "quite" as in "It's not quite like ...".
    – naruto
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 1:20
  • 5
    けど is attached to the whole sentence, not to らしくもなく, so it's "I turned you away, which was not really like me, but..." rather than "Although I don't normally do this, I turned you away."
    – chocolate
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 1:43
  • 1
    @UCProgrammer and All: Thank you for the comments. A paragraph on も has been added at the end of the answer.
    – user
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 8:40

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