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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12
votes
5answers
8k views

How is 空気を読む translated into English?

I've often seen 'read the air' (literal translation) or 'read between the lines' but is there a better rendition of this concept in English? Or does it just not exist?
6
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2answers
232 views

In what contexts can 旗色が悪い be used?

According to コトバンク, 旗色が悪い can be used when there is some connotation of a battle, war or fight - which makes sense because it literally translates to something like the color of the national flag is ...
2
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1answer
97 views

1つの嘘から始まった連鎖は meaning

1つの嘘から始まった連鎖は留まることを知らない。 I think the above sentence is an idiom. I'm just guessing that the meaning is (roughly): Once we began to tell a lie, we will try to cover our lie with more lies. 留まることを知らない ...
3
votes
1answer
119 views

What is the difference between 音をさせる and 音がする and 音を出す/立てる?

と、士道がそんなことを思っていると、令音がおもむろに手を背中にやってパチン、という音をさせたのち、手を服の中に入れて何やらもぞもぞと蠢き、首元からブラジャーを抜き取った。 Hi. Could you please explain the difference between 音をさせる and 音がする and 音を出す/立てる? All of them seem to mean the ...
4
votes
1answer
143 views

Japanese term for “cookie cutter”

I’m looking for a term in Japanese that conveys the same sense of repeated design with minimal or limited variation that is implied by the English phrase “cookie cutter”. My particular interest is in ...
2
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1answer
100 views

Is there an idiom equivalent to / similar to “gut feeling”?

Is there an expression or metaphor similar to "gut feeling", as a metaphor for one's intuition or instinctive feeling about something?
3
votes
1answer
312 views

Meaning of 「どどめ色」

I came across this sentence: 「あんた ホントに どどめ色の青春を過ごしてるわね」 The context is that the addressee wanted to show the speaker a new move he learned by watching the same video over and over again. ...
8
votes
1answer
976 views

What is the etymology of the phrase 隴を得て蜀を望む?

I just came across this phrase, which is listed in the dictionary as: never being satisfied with what one gets, and always wanting more; giving someone an inch and having them take a mile; taking ...
8
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3answers
776 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 「...
7
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1answer
911 views

“The eye (crust ?) laughs at the booger”?

What does this phrase mean? 目{め}くそ鼻{くそ}くそを笑{わら}うだよね。 Is it some sort of idiom? Does it have a parallel in English?
1
vote
1answer
116 views

鋭い牙が meaning in human nature

落ち着いて見えても、鋭い牙が内包されていることに変わりはない。 It was a sentence in a light novel (ようこそ実力至上主義の教室へ) that I've been reading, and I have an impression that it should be some kind of idiomatic words. 鋭い (from Jisho....
3
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2answers
205 views

Japanese idiom for “don’t get your meat where you get your bread”?

There is an idiomatic expression in Portuguese: Onde se ganha o pão não se come a carne Literally, it would translate to "where one earns their bread one does not eat the meat" and it relates to a ...
2
votes
1answer
133 views

Last Minute + Studying/Questions etc

In English "last minute" is a pretty common phrase, but I am having a hard time finding a parallel in Japanese. I want to say things like Any last minute questions? I am doing some last minute ...
2
votes
1answer
116 views

How may I express concern without asking if the person is 'OK' but wanting them to be 'OK'?

How may I express concern without asking if the person is 'OK' but wanting them to be 'OK'? It's not obvious how to do so in English. In English you might say something like "get well soon", but that'...
7
votes
1answer
201 views

What is the term for the English idiom of “with high stakes”?

In English there is the idiomatic expression "with high stakes." There is also the adjective high-stakes, which means involving serious risks if there is no success. Is there a similar idiom in ...
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2answers
174 views

How would I say “This place is Heaven on Earth”?

How would I say "This place is Heaven on Earth"? Would このところは地球上の天国です。 be correct?
4
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2answers
876 views

What does 鴨が葱を背負って来る mean?

I checked the meaning of Farfetch'd on Bulbapedia and it says it is "カモネギ", likely to be inspired by "鴨が葱を背負って来る", meaning "something surprising, but convenient". What does "surprising but ...
3
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2answers
244 views

What is the meaning of 山は越えたよ?

The sentence given with its translation is: I'm out of the woods. 山 は 越えた よ。 When I looked up the word "越えた", it was only matched with "越える" instead. I think the meaning is similar. When I ...
6
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1answer
683 views

How to describe the inside of one's mind?

On one page in my book, I came across 3 different phrases for, what seems to me, subtly different ways of saying the same thing. The first was: 頭の隅に Then: 脳裏に The information I was able to find ...
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2answers
192 views

Is there a Japanese word for the game “horseshoes?”

I'm guessing this will come across as two questions, but their interrelation is important... Is there a specific word for the game where you toss a horseshoe at a peg (in English just called ...
5
votes
1answer
162 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 ...
2
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1answer
295 views

What is the correct parsing of お高くとまる?

I had always thought that the phrase お高くとまる consisted of the adverbial お高く combined with the verb とまる. I never actually paid much attention to the literal meaning since it is obviously a figurative ...
1
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1answer
363 views

Not seeing is a flower?

Can anyone explain what does this idiom means ? I read the English translation and googled it but I still don’t know what it really means and what does flower refer to . 見ぬが花 “Not seeing is a ...
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1answer
188 views

Jibun dake baka o miru meaning?

I saw it on a prep book and there says the meaning is to waste time and money, but I don't understand how.
2
votes
1answer
93 views

What does 意識が遠くなる mean?

I ran into this japanese medical site. http://www.kojinkai.or.jp/msc/outpatient-selfcheck18.html The title "意識が遠くなる" stumps me. Best I can guess is "Consciousness is fading." Is that right? "...
3
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2answers
121 views

About using おかげさまで as a standalone

I've been doing some research on おかげさまで and, not content with just memorising sayings, am wondering why おかげさまで is used as a standalone/response. Does it mean 'thanks to you', 'thanks to God and ...
5
votes
1answer
754 views

Meaning/origin of 三寒四温【さんかんしおん】

Recently I was introduced to the 四字熟語【よじじゅくご】: 三寒四温【さんかんしおん】 ... to describe the type of changing weather one often experiences around late Winter/early Spring. As to the literal meaning of this ...
3
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1answer
120 views

In the clause われこそはと心驕りしていられる方々からは, … what does the と mean?

I read this clause as something like "I myself surely, and all of those whose hearts were being made indignant, (...)" However, I'm not confident this is correct, mainly because I'm not sure what the ...
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2answers
249 views

Difference between 七転び八起き and 七転八起

I really need someones help and PRONTO!! So I have finally decided my next Japanese Kanji tattoo! :) BUT I got one problem when I was doing some research on "Fall down seven times, stand up eight." I ...
2
votes
2answers
448 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? ...
7
votes
3answers
195 views

鶴の一声 — Origin and context?

So, I understand what the idiom actually means, roughly -- "the final word," "the word from on high." But where does it come from? Is there a story or a history that gives it context?
2
votes
1answer
166 views

Understanding 絵に描いたように

そんな絵に描いたように満ち足りたダーズリー家にも、たった一つ秘密があった。 In the Dursley family, who were the very picture of contentment, there was just one secret. My translation of そんな絵に描いたように満ち足りた is purely a guess based on Jisho'...
9
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3answers
2k views

What does 今日という日 mean?

I'm trying to translate a song lyric that says 今日という日は 過去 前例のない 僕たちの誓い日和だよ And I get a dictionary result at Jisho for 今日という日 as something like every day; all day but that doesn't make any sense ...
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2answers
813 views

Meaning of: いらっしゃいます。

I know what はじめまして means. It means, pleased / nice to meet you. When reading Manga at school to learn these expressions, I see the phrase quite often. But there was one Manga where I saw the phrase, ...
5
votes
1answer
128 views

「守りが甘い[上手]{うわて}」…どういう意味ですか?

守りが甘い上手【うわて】と打つとやられるぞ "If you play this stronger player for whom 'protection is sweet' you will be done for." is my best attempt to understand. The context in which this happens is the teacher of ...
6
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1answer
149 views

Is あわやと思った an idiom? What is the meaning of あわや?

I've come across this sentence あわやと思ったその時 and I have looked around without success for a translation for あわや. Tangorin simply says it's an adverb meaning 'almost on the verge of happening', but ...
2
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1answer
152 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
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1answer
88 views

尻馬に乗る Have I understood this idiom correctly?

So I am struggling with this sentence, and was wondering if I have interpreted the idiom correctly? I have found that 尻馬に乗る means 'to follow suit', 'to follow the lead of others' or 'A fool laughs ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Japanese idiom equivalent to “that ship has sailed”

What is the closest expression in Japanese that conveys a similar meaning to the English idiom "that ship has sailed", referring to an "missed opportunity" and "it's too late (to do anything about it)"...
4
votes
3answers
118 views

一線を画する ambiguity

This passage comes from Underground by Haruki Murakami: 年長者であり医師であり、科学技術省の「武闘派」とは一線を画している林が敢えて実行者として選ばれた理由は不明だが... The translation by Alfred Birnbaum is Why Hayashi - a senior medical doctor ...
1
vote
1answer
116 views

Meaning of ツッコミどころ多すぎ?

I've come across the phrase: ツッコミどころ多すぎ In a book where the character was for a second time expressing annoyance at his colleague's reckless actions. But I'm unsure of it's meaning since it ...
5
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2answers
143 views

How to interpret “一日の楽しみ”

こいつにとって水泳は本当に一日の楽しみなんだと思う。 The person in question here swims literally everyday. "I think she really enjoys swimming (everyday? all the time?)" It's hard to fit these use cases here.
0
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0answers
81 views

A good translation for 寒がるふり / 冷めたふり / etc?

Every once in a while, I come across some variant of a phrase that would literally translate to "pretending to be cold." As far as I can tell, it refers to a sort of desperate attention-seeking ...
2
votes
0answers
117 views

Searching for idiom frequency list

I am looking for a list of the most common idioms in Japanese, and ideally I want the list to be frequency-based. In other words, it should be based on a large corpus.
5
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2answers
12k views

How to say “I am confused”?

I have found the following examples in http://tatoeba.org/jpn/ 頭{あたま}が混乱{こんらん}している。I'm confused. 本当{ほんとう}に参{まい}りましたね。I'm really confused. Are these examples a natural way to deliver the idea ...
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2answers
249 views

What's 'to take one's proper station' in japanese?

It was quoted in The Chrysanthemum and the Sword and appears to be a japanese idiom.
0
votes
1answer
145 views

~とく・ておく to emphasize a negative thing?

I know ておく・とく as meaning "in preparation for something". But today I came across the following two sentences: あれだけみっともない辞め方をしといて、まだ政府にモノが言えるのは、民主党はいまだ鳩山の懐をあてにして金を貰っているのでしょうか。 (from Oshiete Goo) ...
2
votes
2answers
119 views

meaning of 身を切る

This is a passage from Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活 2 light novel. Subaru has finished telling Ram the Japanese story The Ogre who cried. story summary by Crunchyroll (link contains spoilers for the anime ...
1
vote
1answer
141 views

Is 二人の顔はそっくりだ a possible way to say “Both of their faces look the same”?

This is my attempt at translating the sentence "Both of their faces look the same": 二人の顔はそっくりだ Does it make sense or is it completely wrong?
2
votes
2answers
534 views

Is there an idiom for something that will never happen? [duplicate]

Inspired by this question on English SE, and the List of idioms of improbability in Wikipedia which does not have an entry for Japanese, I was wondering... Is there an idiom in Japanese for something ...