Questions tagged [idioms]

慣用句・ことわざ. Phrases with fixed words used as a single unit, typically with a meaning beyond what is obvious from its constituent parts.

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7
votes
2answers
672 views

How to understand 節がある?

According to weblio, 節{ふし}がある is defined as follow: 着眼点としてある。そのようにも思われる。「思い当たるふしがある」や、「県警は当初、事件を隠蔽しようとしていたふしがある」などのように用いられる。 "Interesting" point. Considered to be like this. Used like 「...
13
votes
1answer
294 views

Can I always use 色々な or do I have to use 色々の sometimes?

On the web I can find many occurrences of both 色々な and 色々の. 色々な seems to be used more often though. Can I always use 色々な and get away with it, or is 色々の the only choice in some particular cases? If ...
12
votes
3answers
11k views

When/why did 電話する replace 電話をかける?

In some older learning material I came across, they use 「電話をかける」 for "to make a telephone call". When/why did this come to be replaced by 「電話する」 in popular usage?
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Japanese idioms of improbability

I'm sure most (English speakers) have heard terms like: when pigs fly or when hell freezes over or when the Cubs win the World Series [obsolete] (U.S. only) Am wondering if there is ...
10
votes
1answer
948 views

Meaning and usage of ~としたことが

I came across the expression ~としたことが, for example: 私としたことが I'm trying to figure out the meaning and usage of this phrase, but I can't find any English resources that explain it. What does this ...
7
votes
2answers
336 views

What is the etymology of 赤の他人?

彼は赤の他人だよ — He's a total stranger to me How did "red stranger" come to mean "total stranger" in Japanese? Is there anything that makes this expression make sense more than "That's just what it means"?
5
votes
1answer
156 views

Is 足りるだけ with a negative verb idiomatic?

I've encountered sentences like: 「皆【みんな】に足【た】りるだけの椅子【いす】がありません」and 「皆に足りるだけのコーヒーがありません」. In English, we wouldn't say, "There aren't just enough chairs," except perhaps as, "There barely ...
6
votes
1answer
551 views

Understanding “よりを戻す” and “止めておこう”

I don't think us getting together tonight is such a good idea. やっぱり今夜、よりを戻すのは止めておこう。 I would like to understand this sentence better, specifically the (idiomatic?) expression, "よりを戻す." I will ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

What's bugging the Japanese language?

In my JLPT workbook, it has a section which gives a list of idioms that use [虫]{むし}. 仕事{しごと}の虫 (worker bee) 点取{てんとり}虫 (derogatory term for a student who tries too hard) 虫がいい (selfish) ...
35
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2answers
7k views

Where does “もしもし” (moshimoshi) for answering the telephone come from?

Does the term "もしもし" (moshimoshi) predate the telephone? Does it have any use besides answering the phone? Where does it come from, is it just a reduplication of "もし" (moshi) "if", and if so how does ...
9
votes
2answers
365 views

Do 気が付く{つく} and 気[付く]{づく} have the same meaning?

If they both mean the same, is が optional?
16
votes
4answers
621 views

“Unsolvable problem”

What is the correct construction of "unsolvable problem"? Is it "解{と}けられない問題{もんだい}"?(Question 1) Plain(intransitive): 解{と}ける "To be solved". Potential form(of intransitive): 解けられる "can be ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Making sense out of Japanese proverbs

I was never able to make any sense out of the following Japanese proverbs or idiomatic expressions: 豆腐の角に頭をぶつけて死んでしまえ。 'Hit your head against a corner of a cake of tofu, and die.' ......
5
votes
1answer
1k views

When to use 出て来る over 出る

Here is a sentence from the children's story ももたろう, describing when the child appears from within the giant peach. 桃の中から赤ちゃんが出てきました。 My dictionary lists 出て来る as meaning "to come out" with a note ...
2
votes
1answer
290 views

Usage/context of 「私ね…」

Surely the biggest issue here is that I'm trying to learn usage from anime dialogue, which should almost always be taken with the biggest grain of salt possible. But it comes up often enough that it's ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

What does ただいま actually mean?

I was wondering what the literal translation really means. I've seen it translated as I'm home but I've also seen it in a few situations where the person wasn't arriving home.
1
vote
2answers
374 views

Translation of a passage discussing zodiac systems

My friend and I are reading 宝石泥棒 by Masaki Yamada. In the beginning of chapter five, there are a few paragraphs that discuss constellations and zodiac systems, but we can't figure out how to translate ...
8
votes
3answers
303 views

Meaning of 足のつかない?

I wasn't able to find any matches through dictionaries for 足のつかない or 足がつかない. Here is the sentence: 消えても足のつかない人間をさらっては上の集団に引き渡すらしい The context is thugs kidnapping people for money. I don't ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Is there a Japanese equivalent to the phrase, “when in Rome”?

Is there a Japanese equivalent to the phrase, "when in Rome"?
2
votes
1answer
146 views

The meaning of 技術は習うものではなく盗むもの

技術は習うものではなく盗むもの I'm sure this is some sort of idiomatic expression, I just don't know exactly what it means. Searched everywhere but didn't find anything. Sometimes the "Gijutsu" part is replaced by ...
2
votes
2answers
445 views

What is the literal meaning of 'マスコミにバラして'?

The sentence is, 'マスコミにバラしてもいいんですよ?' What does this mean, literally? Also, is this figure of speech frequently used? If it is, could you please give me some instances when it is used in daily life? ...