Just came across this phrase and upon breaking it down it looked like it would have the opposite meaning to what it really has (高を括る-to make light of). Have I missed something and there's actually a good explanation for this phrase? My first thought was that it would mean 'to expect a lot' or something similar.

  • It look like 括 can mean "constrict". Does there need to be more to it? – flowsnake Feb 28 at 21:32
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    @flowsnake the dictionary I checked says the meaning of 括る here is 予想する, so I'm not sure "constrict" plays a part. – Leebo Feb 28 at 22:13

高【たか】 means "yield/amount/quantity" (e.g., of a crop). くくる means "to bind/tie" and, by extension, "to summarize/consolidate". Thus, the literal meaning of 高をくくる is nothing more than something like "to estimate (the capability of someone/something)" or "to assume". However, as an idiom, it has gained a derived implication of "to (wrongly) estimate/assume", and that's why "to make light of something" is a valid translation. When it comes to idioms, you cannot expect their literal meanings are preserved.


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