Category Archives: Yojijukugo

Balanced on the head of a hinpin

文質彬彬 bun.shitsu.hin.pin Literally: style – substance – refined – refined Alternately: (A person in whom) external beauty and internal substance are in balance and harmony. Someone unbalanced in favor of their “interior” is crude, plain, unrefined. Someone unbalanced in favor … Continue reading

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A leap of dumbth

軽挙妄動 kei.kyo.mou.dou Literally: light (as opposed to “serious”) – action – delusion – motion Alternately: Rash, unthinking action. Doing this and that on impulse, without planning or consideration. Indiscriminate wild flailing. Notes: Despite their relatively similar meanings, replacing 妄 with … Continue reading

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Chai knees characters

(Why yes, I am using this because I was looking into 焉 for the previous kotowaza post. Funny how that works.) 烏焉魯魚 u.en.ro.gyo Literally: bird – how / why – foolish – fish Alternately: The meanings of the original characters … Continue reading

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There’s a storm coming

(Not to mention the storm that’s already here) 前途多難 zen.to.ta.nan Literally: before / front – road – many – difficult / trouble Alternately: Hard times ahead. Notes: Compare and contrast 前途有望 and 多事多難.

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As above, so below

(Wet) 上漏下湿 jou.rou.ka.shuu Literally: above – leak – below – damp Alternately: A poverty-stricken household; a dilapidated house. Water leaks in from above when it rains, and damp seeps up from below; a double threat not to be taken lightly … Continue reading

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Words, words, words

千言万語 sen.gen.ban.go Literally: thousand – say – ten thousand – word Alternately: Very many words. A vast number of words. Really quite a very large number of words indeed. Speech or writing that is long-winded, meandering, overdone, prolix, repetitive, tedious, … Continue reading

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On words, the eating thereof

If it happens too often, you might want some grains of salt. 前言撤回 zen.gen.te-.kkai Literally: before – say – withdraw – revolve Alternately: “I take it back.” A phrase that negates a previous phrase, opinion, or comment. Notes: This “practical” … Continue reading

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Selfless love

Like, literally selfless and universal 兼愛無私 ken.ai.mu.shi Literally: already / and – love – no – self / I Alternately: Equal affection for all people, without drawing lines between oneself and the Other. Universal love without bias or petty tribalism. … Continue reading

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A long and winding… gut

羊腸小径 you.chou.shou*.kei Literally: sheep – intestines – small – path / diameter Alternately: A small and winding mountain road. A path that twists and turns like (sheep) intestines. Notes: This is another compound of compounds. 小径 (“path,” “lane”) on its … Continue reading

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“Under a dictatorship, a nation ceases to exist.”

-Wole Soyinka 残酷非道 zan.koku.hi.dou Literally: remainder – cruel / unjust – un- – road / morals Alternately: Unconscionable cruelty. Inhuman brutality. Notes: We’ve seen this before.

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