All in one basket, no less

(Ruiran no ayauki;
“The peril of a pile of eggs”)


An especially unstable and dangerous situation. Potential downfall and ruin.


We begin with the compound noun 累卵 (ruiran), literally a “pile of eggs.” This is joined by the associative particle の (no) to the adjective 危うい (ayaui), in prenominal form and acting as a noun. And that’s it! This week we’ve got another short and simple noun phrase.


An interesting bit of trivia is that while here 累 means “accumulation,” in other contexts it can also refer to “trouble.”

This phrase comes to us from the biography of Fan Sui (范雎, Japanese reading Han Sho) in our most excellent friend the Records of the Grand Historian (Japanese 『史記』 = Shiki). The original passage reads 秦王之国、危如累卵 (“the land of the king of Qin, danger like piled eggs.” This origin is reflected in the variant phrase 危うきこと累卵の如し (ayauki koto ruiran no gotoshi), “a dangerous thing, like a pile of eggs.”

And of course, there are many synonyms, from 薄氷を履むが如し to 一触即発.

Example sentence:


(“Dare ga dare ni nani wo shite, konkai no jiken ni natta no ka wa ore ni mo wakaranai kedo, toriaezu saakuru no senpai-tachi ga itsu naguriatte mo okashikunai to iu ruiran no ayauki ni aru nda.”)

[“Even I don’t know who did what to who to start all this, but in any case we’re sitting on a live bomb and it wouldn’t be surprising if the club seniors actually got into a fistfight at any point.”]

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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