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Japanese Idioms





The Japanese language is filled with idioms of all sorts, from classical references from ancient Chinese to modern colloquialisms used by college students and young salaryman. Whether you are traveling to Japan for fun or on business, or are living there, you'll find idioms indispensible to understanding and using the daily language. Browse below to find the ones you want or simply explore the many possible ways to express yourself in Japanese.



退屈しのぎ
[たいくつしのぎ, taikutsu-shinogi] a way to stave off boredom; a kill-time

太鼓持ち
[たいこもち, taiko-mochi] flatterer; brown-noser

大根
[だいこん, daikon] lousy actor

大根足
[だいこんあし, daikonashi] piano legs; thick, definitionless legs (lit.: radish legs)

大根役者
[だいこんやくしゃ, daikon yakusha] lousy actor

大したもの
[たいしたもの, taishita mono] important, significant, meaningful

台無しにする
[だいなしにする, dainashi ni suru] spoil; ruin; make a mess of; botch; mess

タイムいっぱい
[たいむいっぱい, taimu ippai] at the end of [time]

絶え間なく
[たえまなく, taema naku] without pause

他界する
[たかいする, takai suru] die

高飛び
[たかとび, takatobi] skipping town
(lit.: fly high)

高飛びする
[たかとびする, takatobi suru] skip town (lit.: fly high)

高みの見物(をする)
[たかみのみもの(をする), takami no mimono] stand by idly; watch as an idle spectator

高を括る
[たかをくくる, taka o kukuru] underrate; not take seriously

竹の子族
[たけのこぞく, takenoko-zoku] teenage punks (n.b.: from the 1970s; not much used anymore)

蛇足
[だそく, dasoku] excess; superfluous

只今
[ただいま, tadaima] I’m back

ただ事じゃない
[ただごとじゃない, tada goto ja nai] be serious

駄々っ子
[だだっこ, dadakko] spoiled brat

駄々をこねる
[だだをこねる, dada o koneru] fret; be peevish

たちが悪い
[たちがわるい, tachi ga warui] wicked; vicious; ill-natured

脱サラ
[だつさら, datsu-sara] quitting a job as a salaryman and launching an independent business

たった今
[たったいま, tatta ima] just now, a moment ago, this very minute

脱兎のごとく
[だっとのごとく, datto no gotoku] with lightning speed, as fast as one can

立つより返事
[たつよりへんじ, tatsu yori henji] be ready to answer before you stand up

立て板に水
[たていたにみず, tateita ni mizu] great fluency, able to speak and act quickly

棚上げ(する)
[たなあげ(する), tanaage] shelve; set aside for the time being

狸寝入り
[たぬきねいり, tanuki neiri] pretend to sleep; feign sleep

たまえ
[たまえ, tamae] a suffix used with the stem form of verbs to create a command, usually used by superiors to inferiors

玉に傷
たまにきず, tama ni kizu] a fly in the ointment; a flaw in an otherwise perfect thing or person

鱈腹
[たらふく, tarafuku] be stuffed; have eaten one's fill; be fed up

だんだん
[だんだん, dan dan] slowly, step by step


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