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18 votes

What does 今日という日 mean?

今日という日 (literally "the day called today") is just an emphatic version of "today", or "this very day". This expression is commonly used in formal greetings and poems. (I tried jisho.org but got nothing ...
naruto's user avatar
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14 votes
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What is the etymology of the phrase 隴を得て蜀を望む?

What is the etymology of the phrase 隴を得て蜀を望む? We can reorder the characters to get 得隴望蜀, which is a Chinese-language yojijukugo. This phrase may reference a few unrelated historical events. The ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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10 votes
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Understanding 軍服に着られた

It is a rhetorical use of passive voice. 服に着られる basically means the person in the clothes gives a funny impression, e.g. the size is too big, it simply does not go well, etc. (Added) It is less common ...
sundowner's user avatar
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8 votes

Japanese idioms of improbability

You can find many idioms that denote something is impossible on online glossaries, including: 石に花咲く (a flower blooms on a stone) 太陽が西から昇る (the sun rising from the west) 網の目に風とまる (wind being trapped ...
naruto's user avatar
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8 votes

What does 鴨が葱を背負って来る mean?

Basically it means "easy hunt/game/prey". I think "something surprising but convenient" is slightly wrong. So it can't be used like your example. Second example is correct, the phrase exists for. We ...
ゆるキャン's user avatar
8 votes
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In what contexts can 旗色が悪い be used?

Here's the list of examples from BCCWJ. We can see the idiom 旗色が悪い can be safely used in non-military contexts, but is always used in the context of argument, debate, competition, or at least ...
naruto's user avatar
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8 votes
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Understanding the も in 見るも

見るも is better remembered as a fixed adverbial idiom "patently", "manifestly" but usually qualifies what is shocking at first glance. This phrase cooccurs with following adjectives ...
broccoli forest's user avatar
7 votes

What are the origins of the Japanese idiom ななころびやおき (nanakorobiyaoki)?

I thought I remember something from Chinese and it seems indeed that 七転び八起き originally comes from the Chinese saying 七顛八起{しちてんはっき}. (I found it written also as 七転八起). Now, regarding why the numbers ...
Tommy's user avatar
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7 votes

Meaning of 足のつかない?

The idiomatic expression refers to not having any leads. See the explanation for 足がつく here. So the phrase in your example is actually referring to a person who has disappeared without a trace.
keithmaxx's user avatar
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7 votes
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Japanese idiom equivalent to "that ship has sailed"

I personally think 時すでに遅し is fine (時すでに遅し is an idiomatic phrase which is not based on plain modern Japanese grammar), but if you want "more idiomatic" ones, you may use the following expressions: ...
naruto's user avatar
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7 votes
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What is the correct parsing of お高くとまる?

I'm curious which dictionary you used to find that odd kana-ization? Searching for the kana string おたかくとまる over on Kotobank, a decent online dictionary aggregator sourcing from reputable native-...
Eiríkr Útlendi's user avatar
7 votes
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Meaning of 「どどめ色」

Have you tried Wikipedia? どどめ色 どどめ色(ドドメ色、土留色)とは、その名前は知られているが正確な定義のない色。方言では桑の実、また青ざめた唇の色や、打撲などによる青アザの表現に用いられ、赤紫から青紫、黒紫を指す。 慣用句としては青紫色から「病的な」、不正確性から「不明瞭な」、泥色から「汚れた」といったネガティブな意味合いで用いられることが多い Physically,...
naruto's user avatar
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7 votes
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Japanese equivalent for 'black ice'

There are a few terms that might be used to describe ice on a road. [路面凍結]{ろめんとうけつ} (literally "road surface freezing") アイスバーン (from the German word "Eisbahn") ブラックアイスバーン (...
Leebo's user avatar
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7 votes
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The origin of 首にする

I'm an etymology geek -- I love finding out how and when different words and expressions and meanings arose. I offer this as an addition to @sundowner's fine answer post. What is the origin of the ...
Eiríkr Útlendi's user avatar
6 votes

Japanese idiom equivalent to "take with a grain of salt"

鵜呑{うの}みにしない This literally means "don't swallow it whole" (like a pelican), in other words take it with a grain of salt. For example, when I went clothes shopping recently in Japan and the staff kept ...
Karitate's user avatar
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6 votes

meaning of ここに来て

http://thesaurus.weblio.jp/content/%E3%81%93%E3%81%93%E3%81%AB%E6%9D%A5%E3%81%A6 thesaurus.weblio.jp ここに到って ・ ここへ来て ・ ここまで来て ・ ここに至って ・ ここに来て ・ ここで ・ ここで初めて 今さら ・ この期に及んで ・ こんな時に ・ 今の今になって ・ ここに来て ・...
HizHa's user avatar
  • 3,155
6 votes

Saying or Idiom for 'trying to force a square through a circle'

How about... 「[木]{き}に[竹]{たけ}を[接]{つ}ぐ」? It would be like "trying to force a square through a circle". 「まるで、木に竹を接ぐようなものだ。」 Sources: 英辞郎 "square peg in a round hole" 故事ことわざ辞典「木に竹を接ぐ」
chocolate's user avatar
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6 votes
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Is アリ in そんなのアリかよ⁉︎ some type of slang?

「あり」is a pretty old style of the flexion of a transitive verb,「ある,」meaning “be,” “exist” and “lie.” 「池のほとりに一本の梅の木あり」means “There is (stands) a plum tree near the pond.” 「ほかならぬ理由あり」 means “There is a ...
Yoichi Oishi's user avatar
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6 votes

Why does "hajimete" mean "for the first time"?

There are two kanji with the same kun-reading "haji-". The kanji for hajimete meaning "for the first time" is 初, which means initial, first, or beginning but does not mean to begin. Don't mix it with ...
naruto's user avatar
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6 votes

一線を画する ambiguity

This ~と一線を画す is an idiom, and in this context it means "to keep a distance from ~". It's not even ambiguous, and I think your translation attempt is correct. 年長者であり医師であり is of course "being a senior, ...
naruto's user avatar
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6 votes

What does 今日という日 mean?

Remember that ...という (...と言う) means "That which is called...", because it's a useful phrase. Examples: 愛という光 (the Light called Love), 笑顔という幸せ (the happiness which is called a smile). The original ...
God_Is_Love's user avatar
6 votes
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鶴の一声 -- Origin and context?

It is part of a longer saying 雀の千声鶴の一声, which means that rather having than the 1000 voices of commoners (represented by 雀) having a single voice from on high (represented by 鶴) is preferable. The ...
Ringil's user avatar
  • 8,524
6 votes

What does 鴨が葱を背負って来る mean?

This idiom is understood by virtually all native speakers, but ordinary people rarely use it. They usually see this phrase used by villains in fictional works. 鴨 is a duck, and in Japanese it's also ...
naruto's user avatar
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6 votes
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idiom along the lines of "you get more relatives as you get famous"

Perhaps you heard 売れると親戚が増える? 売れる means "(for a celebrity/artist/etc) to be popular/successful" and 増える means "to increase". This is not a traditional idiom at all, but I've heard ...
naruto's user avatar
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6 votes
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向こうも向こうで What does this mean in this context ? (mukou mo mukou de) Is this some kind of Japanese Idiom?

This is a variant of the AはAで construction that has been asked several times on this site: Meaning of あいつはあいつで What is the meaning of あいつはあいつで? What is meant by それはそれで面白い in this sentence This も ...
naruto's user avatar
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6 votes
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気が合う人 is correct but why can't I say 気が合える人? Why is using the potential form wrong?

(According to web searches,) there is a distinction called 意志動詞 and 無意志動詞. The former denotes the verbs that express voluntary actions. The rule is that there is no potential form for 無意志動詞, which 合う ...
sundowner's user avatar
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