Category Archives: Japanese

A day for lying in

虚誕妄説 kyo.tan.mou.setsu Literally: empty – birth / arbitrary – delusion – explanation Alternately: Groundless remarks. False statements. Talking nonsense; making irresponsible comments; shooting off at the mouth. Notes: This is another two-two-character-compound-compound: 虚誕 refers to not just falsehoods but exaggerated … Continue reading

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Wer anderen eine Grube gräbt

fällt zusammen hinein? 人を呪わば穴二つ (Hito wo norowaba ana futatsu; “If you place a curse, [dig] two holes”) Definition: If you try to harm others, harm will come (back) to you. More literally, if you curse someone to death, their dying … Continue reading

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More likely when the person at the center is rotten

朝蠅暮蚊 chou.you.bo.bun Literally: morning – fly (the insect, not the verb) – evening – mosquito Alternately: A troublesome situation or gloomy atmosphere caused by an assemblage of narrow-minded, trivial people. Like being surrounded by clouds of flies in the morning … Continue reading

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Has, shoots, and leaves

雨後の筍 (Ugo no takenoko; “Bamboo shoots after the rain”) Definition: The same thing, or similar things, popping up one after another. Repetition. Recurrence. Like a profusion of bamboo shoots sprouting after the rain. Like mushrooms after the rain, in Western … Continue reading

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A dangerous game when your name starts with “hundred”

I guess birds are illiterate? 百舌勘定 mo.zu.kan.jou Literally: hundred – tongue – compare – determine Alternately: Arranging things so that others end up paying your costs for you. Especially at a restaurant, manipulating the bill in a way that divides … Continue reading

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Paul Ryan’s next plan for American health care

Nah, it would still cost rich people a bit of money. 二階から目薬 (Nikai kara megusuri; “Eye medicine from the second floor”) Definition: A frustrating situation where things don’t go as you want. Alternately, a roundabout way of doing things that … Continue reading

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Yes elephant plus no elephant

Equals EVERYTHING 有象無象 u.zou.mu.zou Literally: exist – shape – nothing – shape Alternately: All things; a Buddhist phrase combining “things with physical forms and things without physical forms” to denote the entirety of existence. By extension, “A large number of … Continue reading

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