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I think "一触即発" can be used to refer to the personality of a person and means "quick to anger or get emotionally upset". If it cannot, please just say "no it cannot" and no reason to read further.

This is how I think it can be used:

talking directly to the person:
「さすが一触即発の性格でしょうね。えと、なのに、ふつつかな私を許してください。申し訳ありません。」 (You have such a personality that is quick to anger. Um, anyway, please make allowances for my incompetence. I have no excuse.)

talking with someone about a third person who is not present (Tanaka-san):
「田中さんは一触即発の人だと思わない。」(Do you think that Tanaka-san is quick to anger?)

  1. Does it make sense to even refer to a personality as 一触即発? Does it sound funny, make a native speaker laugh? Or, a personality cannot be defined that way?
  2. Should it be "一触即発の人" or "一触即発の性格がある人"?
  3. Either way, it is very informal / humorous way among friends to describe someone who easily gets upset?
  4. 人柄 instead of 性格?
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    @nodakai Please try to avoid answering questions in the comment section. – snailcar Jan 5 at 1:59
  • @snailcar and removing my comment was the best thing you could do for the benefit of the community? Awesome. – nodakai Jan 5 at 14:50
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    @nodakai I think so. Users flagged it asking for it to be removed, and as a moderator, I’m trying to do what the community wants. Please feel free to post answers as answers. – snailcar Jan 5 at 14:54
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I think it is a bit awkward to use 「一触即発」for describing one's personality which is short-temper, getting upset easily, etc. since the expression is normally used to describe that something dangerous/unwanted will be triggered on the spot when an action taken.

I guess the word more suitable is「瞬間湯沸かし器」: instaneous water boiler or 「すぐカチンとくる」: easily losing temper for what you imagine.

If you want to use 「一触即発」, the sentence came up to me is 「〇〇さんは喧嘩早いので、いつも一触即発の事態になる」: Since 〇〇 are bellicose, we are always getting into a powder keg.

However, it seems the phrase「一触即発の人」is not so odd to me. Probably it could be used between your friends for making fun of them because of their humorous behaviour. So, it depends.

I think「一触即発の性格」would be better than「一触即発の人柄」since 「人柄」is basically used to describe one’s personality affirmatively.

  • 1
    I felt impelled to click +1 for 瞬間湯沸かし器 – broccoli forest Jan 7 at 7:20

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