From I know, [悪知恵が働く] means "cunning" and [ずる賢い] also means "cunning". Is there any nuances when I use [悪知恵が働く] or [ずる賢い]?

Also for [悪知恵が働く], the kanji 悪知恵 already means "cunning" so why is が働く is used in the phrase. And one more thing that has been bothering me lately, is [悪知恵が働く] always being used to describe something as cunning or is there any other usage of [悪知恵が働く] that I am unaware about

1 Answer 1


悪知恵 means ”bad wisdom”. So, 悪知恵が働く means ”bad wisdom is working”. It may be more appropriate to translate ”doing evil deed come into my mind” or merely ”doing evil deed”, than ”cunning”.

On the other hand, ずる賢い means ”dishonest and clever”. It mostly use towords people.

”悪知恵が働く” and ”ずる賢い” means almost the same thing.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .