Category Archives: Japanese

Hot air, cold air

物言えば唇寒し秋の風 (Mono ieba kuchibiru samushi aki no kaze; “When you say something, then your lips will feel the chill of an autumn wind”) Definition: Being nasty will only make you feel bad later; shooting off your mouth invites disaster. Needlessly … Continue reading

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Sorry about all the words

暴言多罪 bou.gen.ta.zai Literally: violence – word – many – guilt/sin/crime Alternately: This is a polite, formulaic phrase to use at the close of a letter, apologizing to the recipient for being overlong, going too far with its content, or anything … Continue reading

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The softest immolation

鳴かぬ蛍が身を焦がす (Nakanu hotaru ga mi wo kogasu; “The silent firefly burns itself”) Definition: Those who feel the most deeply are silent, while those who talk the most are often shallow in their thoughts and feelings. “Light cares speak, great ones … Continue reading

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A garde for vants

斬新奇抜 zan.shin.ki.batsu Literally: behead – new – strange – extract Alternately: Completely new. Unprecedented. Often used to describe a novel idea or unconventional way of thinking. Notes: Compare and contrast this compound with prior entry 奇想天外. It is an error … Continue reading

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When nothing sticks

箸にも棒にも掛からない (Hashi ni mo bou ni mo kakaranai; “Can’t be caught on a chopstick or a pole”) Definition: A work that’s just really badly made, or a person who is completely out of control. By extension, something or somebody about … Continue reading

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The actual cruelest month

…would be September, then, I guess. 秋霜烈日 shuu.sou.retsu.jitsu Literally: autumn – frost – intense – sun Alternately: Stringent severity – of intent, or of some expression of authority such as discipline, punishment, etc. Strictness as harsh as a lethal late-fall … Continue reading

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Blue sea, Red Cliffs, pale blue dot

滄海の一粟 (Soukai no ichizoku; “A single grain of millet in the deep blue sea”) Definition: Something incredibly small in the middle of something something incredibly big. A needle in a haycontinent. Metaphorically, the trifling, ephemeral existence of humans within the … Continue reading

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