Tag Archives: 史記

All in one basket, no less

累卵の危うき(Ruiran no ayauki;“The peril of a pile of eggs”) Definition: An especially unstable and dangerous situation. Potential downfall and ruin. Breakdown: We begin with the compound noun 累卵 (ruiran), literally a “pile of eggs.” This is joined by the associative … Continue reading

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The best lover is one who breaks your spine

A book lover breaking your book’s spine, I mean. 葦編三絶i.hen.san.zetsu Literally: reed – braid – three – sever Alternately: Reading the same book over and over again. Close, careful, and frequent reading of a text. Notes: Think of a text … Continue reading

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The great insulator

Second only to sudden bereavement – Joan Aiken 一攫千金i-.kkaku.sen.kin Literally: one – take – thousand – gold Alternately: Making a large profit at one stroke without much effort. Note that the instantaneous and easy nature of the wealth in question … Continue reading

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Why that two-faced rat

Well, he looks that way sometimes 首鼠両端 shu.so.ryou.tan Literally: neck – mouse / rat – both – edge Alternately: Caught in indecision, often between two choices. Vacillating; sitting on the fence. By extension, the phrase can also refer to someone … Continue reading

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Keep your debrief brief

敗軍の将は兵を語らず (Haigun no shou wa hei wo katarazu; “The defeated commander speaks not of war.”) Definition: Someone who has failed at something has no authority to speak on the topic; a defeated general should not give their opinions on warfare. … Continue reading

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And the Wild Things gnashed their terrible teeth

And clenched their terrible arms? 切歯扼腕 se-.sshi.yaku.wan Literally: cut – tooth – dominate / obstruct – arm Alternately: Convulsive rage (or frustration, or other negative emotion). Grinding the teeth and clenching the arms against one’s body. Being so worked up … Continue reading

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Ambition is for the birds

燕雀安くんぞ鴻鵠の志を知らんや (Enjaku izukunzo koukoku no kokorozashi wo shiran ya; “How could the swallow or sparrow understand the goose or swan?”) Definition: People of lowly character or small ability don’t, and can’t, understand the thought processes and ambitions of those with … Continue reading

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Arts and crafts for quarantine

門前雀羅を張る (Monzen jakura wo haru; “To spread a sparrow-net at the gate”) Definition: For a place, especially a home, to feel desolate and deserted due to lack of visitors. When the entrance to your estate (because you are an aristocrat … Continue reading

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Hot air rises

意気揚揚i.ki.you.you Literally: mind/heart – spirit – raise – raise Alternately: In high spirits; triumphant, elated… by extension, boastful; proud unto arrogance; full of oneself. Often used with the ironic or critical nuance that someone’s inflated self-esteem is not actually in … Continue reading

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Just avoid immovable objects

…and you’ll be fine. Right? 断じて行えば鬼神も之を避く (Danjite okonaeba kishin mo kore wo saku; “If you do things decisively, even demon-gods will get out of the way”) Definition: If you take decisive action backed by strong determination, there is little that … Continue reading

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