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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 ...
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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 ...
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12 votes

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

Yes. 郷【ごう】に入【い】っては郷【ごう】に従【したが】え which literally means "When you enter a village, obey (the custom of) the village".
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10 votes
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Meaning and usage of ~としたことが

としたことが and ともあろうものが are used to express the surprise of the speaker toward the (bad) behaviour of someone. With 私, it expresses something around the line of "Who could have thought I/someone like me/...
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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 ...
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9 votes
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Meaning of "gkbrです"

According to the ja.wikipedia page on GKBR, it can be ゴキブリ as well as: ガクガクブルブル - 恐怖で震えるさまを表す擬態語。 So it'd be "GaKu BuRu," onomatopoeia that represents fearful trembling. It's some 2ch slang, ...
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9 votes
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What is the image/feeling/concept behind 面白半分に◯◯する?

The 面白 comes from 面白い which as you probably know means "fun, interesting". The 半分 part means "half". The expression ”面白半分に” means literally to do something "half fun", "half serious" (as you hinted ...
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9 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 ...
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8 votes
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Is "背中に嫌な汗を掻いた" an idiomatic phrase?

嫌な汗 is commonly used and refers to sweat that comes out in a "bad situation", especially in anticipation of a "bad situation". In my personal opinion it emphasizes how the person is still maintaining ...
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8 votes

Japanese equivalent of the phrase "wrapped around your finger"?

When talking about children/grandchildren and not romantic relationships, a common idiom is: 目に入れても痛くない{いたくない} (Literal: It wouldn't hurt if I put them in my eye) It's similar to saying that ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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7 votes
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ムダ足だった == useless leg?

I believe [無駄足]{むだあし} is derived from [無駄足]{むだあし}を[運]{はこ}ぶ ("move one's feet in vain"), which is one of a series of counterintuitive idioms Japanese vocabulary has. [小腹]{こばら}が[減]{へ}る "little stomach ...
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7 votes
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Rain on your parade

If what you're talking about is this: to do something that spoils someone's plans We have idioms 水【みず】を差【さ】す and 腰【こし】を折【お】る in Japanese. 水を差して [apology words] … 水を差すようで [apology words] … ...
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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.
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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: ...
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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-...
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7 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 ...
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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,...
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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 (...
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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 ...
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  • 456
6 votes
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How to say "all in all"

All in all it takes 15 minutes to get there 全部で15分かかる。 (more examples of this structure) All in all this movie was quite fun この映画は全体的におもしろかった。 (more examples, more examples, more) This dictionary ...
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  • 4,956
6 votes

"over in the blink of an eye"?

一瞬で, 一瞬にして, etc. Coincidentally (or not coincidentally), the 瞬 in 一瞬 means blink.
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