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落ち着いて見えても、鋭い牙が内包されていることに変わりはない。

It was a sentence in a light novel (ようこそ実力至上主義の教室へ) that I've been reading, and I have an impression that it should be some kind of idiomatic words.

鋭い (from Jisho.org) : perceptive; keen; quick (mind); astute; shrewd; discerning.

I was wondering what the true meaning of 鋭い牙が (sharp fang) in human character.

Can it be translated as sense of perception?

Sharp also has a meaning of fierce, so I was thinking an option like fierce personality.

Thank you in advance for your kind guidance.

  • I have a general idea of the translation, I also aware of of the 落ち着 that you mentioned. I was just wondering if 鋭い牙が words have a more definitive meaning rather than the literal translation "sharp fang". The context is the mentioned character was reading a book, and a group of friends were watching him from a distance. The guy used to be violence, so they tried not to provoke the guy. – Amanda Zhang Nov 29 '19 at 12:29
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For reference to other readers, here's the Jisho.org entry for 鋭い.

I think you're overthinking this.

As seen in the entry, the topmost sense and core meaning of 鋭【するど】い is simply "sharp", not "perceptive". It can be used to mean "perceptive", but that's the same as saying that "someone is sharp" in English can mean that they're quick on the uptake, they're smart, they're shrewd.

In the specific case of your sample text, 鋭【するど】い牙【きば】 can really only mean "sharp fangs". And, like in English, when we refer to someone having "sharp fangs", we don't (usually) mean that they literally have sharp fangs -- instead, this expression is used figuratively to mean that someone can be vicious.

「落ち着いて見えても、鋭い牙が内包されていることに変わりはない。」
"Even though they look calm, that doesn't change the fact that they've got sharp fangs."
→ Even though they look calm, they can be vicious.

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    Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking about. My translation is almost similar to yours (I prefer violent). But I wasn't sure about it, so I tried to get some confirmation from the experts here. – Amanda Zhang Dec 4 '19 at 6:04
  • @AmandaZhang, one consideration is that violent implies physical action, whereas vicious refers more to mode of action. For instance, one can be vicious in what someone says, but it's generally not possible to be violent using only words. – Eiríkr Útlendi Jan 21 at 17:34

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