Tag Archives: 慣用句

Japanese Idioms

8 Feb

An idiom, by dictionary definition, is

An expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements…

(according to Dictionary.com)

In Japanese, it’s 慣用句 (kanyouku).

An example of an English-language 慣用句 (idiom) is “kick the bucket“…which, far from it’s literal definition, means “die“.

Here are some Japanese 慣用句 (idioms):

  • へそを曲げる (Heso-o-mageru): (lit. “bend your belly-button”) means: “To sulk“.
  • 尻尾をまく(Shippo-o-maku): (lit. “Coil your tail”) means: “Be defeated and demoralized” (same as “Run away with your tail between your legs”).
  • 目を丸くする(Me-o-maruku-suru): (lit. “Make round eyes”) means: “Be very surprised“.
  • 胸を打つ(Mune-o-utsu): (lit. “Beat your chest”) means: “Feel touched / emotional“.
  • アゴが外れる(Ago-ga-hazureru): (lit. “Dislocate your jaw”) means: “Laugh loudly“.
  • ゴマすり(Gomasuri): (lit. “Grind sesame”) means: “Brown nose / Sucking up“.
  • 花に嵐(Hana-ni-arashi): (lit. “Flowers to storms”) means: “Misfortune often follows happiness“.
  • 花より団子(Hana-yori-dango): (lit. “A snack rather than flowers”) means: “Practical things are preferred over the aesthetic“.
  • 根も葉もない(Ne-mo-ha-mo-nai): (lit. “Without roots nor leaves”) means: “Groundless / Unproven“.

I’ll add some more later.