I'm trying to translate this sentence, "Not only am I late to the first day on the job but I'm lost, too." and I can't decide between 迷子になる and 道に迷う.

What I have right now is, 仕事初日に遅刻してるだけじゃなく、迷子になってしまった。 But I'm unsure of the difference in nuance between the two expressions. Is what I have written correct? Or is there something better I could use? The specific context of the sentence is someone driving around looking for where they need to go and talking to themselves, kind of chastising themselves for being late/lost if that makes a difference. Thanks.


2 Answers 2


道に迷う is the better phrase in the context in question.

  • 道に迷う requires 道 (roads). You cannot 道に迷う in a department store or a desert. This is not a problem when you are driving.
  • 迷子になる, as the kanji suggests, mainly refers to a small child being lost after straying from their parents in public spaces, but you can still use it to refer to an adult who has strayed from the group in a crowded place. It is not a very appropriate expression if you are alone from the beginning (though it would be understood as a bit humorous and teasing expression).

Also note that it's usually better to align the tense/aspect. You have to say either of:

  • 仕事初日に遅刻しただけじゃなく、道に迷ってしまった。
    (if "what happened" is important)
  • 仕事初日に遅刻しているだけじゃなく、道に迷ってしまっている。
    (if your current situation is important)

I agree with what naruto wrote.

Additionally, if you describe somebody as 迷子 as opposed to 道に迷っている there is a degree of infantilization. For example, if you say 「部長、道に迷ってたんですね」, the expression is mostly neutral. If you say 「部長、迷子になってたんですね」 it infantilizes 部長, so unless you have a close relationship it could be offensive. Similarly, if you say 「迷子になって遅れました」on your first day of work, it would sound childish/odd whereas 「道に迷っていて遅れました」would be neutral.

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