Tag Archives: Records of the Grand Historian

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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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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Please do not bend, fold, spindle or mutilate

曲学阿世 kyoku.gaku.a.sei Literally: bend – study – flatter – society Alternately: Twisting knowledge or reason in order to fit in with a trend or pander to some powerful element of society. Perverting truth in favor of social or political expediency. … Continue reading

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Nor trying at plying

All the songless birds can fly, though 鳴かず飛ばず (Nakazu tobazu; “Nor crying nor flying”) Definition: Quietly waiting one’s chance. Doing nothing for a long time, but with the specific intention of taking action as soon as the opportunity finally comes. … Continue reading

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Yinstring and Yangtwine

禍福は糾える縄の如し (Kafuku wa azanaeru nawa no gotoshi; “Good and ill fortune are entwined like (the strands of) a rope”) Definition: Good luck and bad luck are intimately and inextricably connected; you can’t have only one or the other. Every cloud … Continue reading

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War and Weft

合従連衡 ga-.sshou.ren.kou Literally: join – vertical – lead – horizontal Alternately: This compound commonly refers to diplomacy based on calculations of profit and loss; of making and breaking alliances based on the convenience of the moment. Originally, it referred to … Continue reading

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Earthquake blooming

Arson benevolence?!? 改過自新 kai.ka.ji.shin Literally: change – error – self – new Alternately: Turning over a new leaf. Recognizing and working to correct one’s flaws and errors, and starting anew with a change of heart. New Year’s Resolution stuff. Notes: … Continue reading

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Mere anarchy

Does the candy association accept this member mint? 四分五裂 shi.bun.go.retsu Literally: four – part – five – split Alternately: Disintegration. Things coming apart. Order breaking down and chaos taking over. Notes: The 分 may also be pronounced bu, although this … Continue reading

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🎶So🎶

Later someone invented a system of eight directions. 四面楚歌 shi.men.so.ka Literally: four – face – Chu – song Alternately: Completely alone and cut off, surrounded by enemies. Having foes in all (four cardinal) directions. Feeling forsaken and betrayed. Notes: This … Continue reading

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