The entire line is:


Is it saying to "Struggle at most"? If it is, what would be a more natural way to say it?

1 Answer 1


Originally, 「精々」 just meant "to the best of one's ability", "as best as one can", etc., and in imperative (and similar) constructions could be used as sincere encouragement. It's still used in this manner sometimes, often by people who are rather along in years.

But somewhere along the way, it picked up a sarcastic, scornful, condescending connotation implying the speaker's doubt that the best effort of the person in question, in the action denoted by the accompanying verb, doesn't or won't amount to much, or simply the speaker's contempt for the action itself.

(There's also the "at best/most" sense, but that doesn't fit too well in this context.)

Here's NHK's little treatment of this duality: https://www.nhk.or.jp/bunken/research/kotoba/20150601_3.html

It's hard to know for certain which use the quote at hand represents, but my money's on the sarcastic one, in which case I'd say it means something like:

Struggle, my child, whatever good that does.

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