(More) Expressions in Japanese ②

In Uncategorized by Skritter

Learning idioms is a great way to not only improve ability, but also gain understanding of the way a language’s mindset works.  Here are some more expressions in Japanese leaving off from last post.

lit: Cannot read the air.

Also known as “KY” (for Kuuki wo Yomenai), this is a saying that can explain someone who is not picking up on a vibe. You know that one guy who just doesn’t ever get it, even when there is an obvious atmosphere that everyone else is picking up on? This expression fits well there. It’s as if they are unable to “read” the vibe in the air. There is a dictionary entry that explains this well: “A and B are complaining about C, and D joins in praising C”.

Ex: あいつは空気を読めないなぁ。

That guy just doesn’t get it.

lit: Wash feet

Much like the English expression “I’ve washed my hands of that”, this originated from Buddhism where a monk would clean his feet upon entering the temple also cleansing his worldly desires. The expression means “to change your ways”, and no longer participate in the (often wicked) act it is you had been doing. It can also sometimes just mean to quit your job, even if it wasn’t an evil one.Ex: ネトゲから足を洗った
I’ve stopped playing online games.

lit: Do (make into) a good condition

いい加減 was originally spelled

好い加減, meaning “desirable condition”, and the expression
いい加減にする means to “get something over with”, or to “put an end to something” (that’s been going on for too long). The word いい加減 can be a bit confusing on it’s own since it most often takes the meaning of “irresponsible”, though has the word ”いい” in it meaning “good”. In the expression “いい加減にする”, again meaning “to get it over with”, it would almost seem as if using the most common definition of いい加減 (irresponsible) would make it mean “to do irresponsible”, though it means the opposite.

Ex: いい加減にしろよ!
Get it over with already!


lit: Snake legs

This expression means to be redundant or unnecessary, a useless addition. The origin goes: A group of men during the Warring States Period in China were in a drinking competition to see who gets to drink the remaining alcohol (there wasn’t enough to go around), and decided to see who could draw a picture of a snake the fastest, and the winner could drink the rest. The guy who scrambled and drew the image first ended up drawing legs for the snake, and so the others disqualified him because snakes of course don’t have legs. (He must have had one too many anyway). The word is now used to describe something that is unnecessary or redundant, implying it would be better off without it.

Ex: これ以上は蛇足でしょう。
Anything more than this is unnecessary.


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