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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.



牛の小便のよう
[うしのしょうべんのよう, ushi no shouben no you] long and drawn out.

薄い唇に弁多し
[うすいくちびるにべんおおし, usui kuchibiru ni ben ooshi] a thin-lipped person often speaks eloquently.

嘘か真か
[うそかまことか, osu ka makoto ka] what do you know.

内弁慶
[うちべんけい, uchi-benkei] a warlord at home.

腕一本ど世を渡る
[うでいっぽんどよをわたる, ude ippon do yo o wataru] be fully self-supporting.

腕が嘆く
[うでがなげく, ude ga nageku] itch for action; be itching for some action.

腕組みをする
[うでぐみをする, udegumi o suru] fold one’s arms.

腕にひねるをかける
[うでにひねるをかける, ude ni hineru o kakeru] strain every nerve.

腕のある
[うでのある, ude no aru] capable, able.

腕の人
[うでのひと, ude no hito] a person of ability.

腕捲くりする
[うでまくりする, ude-makuri suru] roll up one’s sleeves.

腕を組む
[うでをくむ, ude o kumu] fold one’s arms.

鵜呑みにする
[うのみにする, unomi ni suru] swallow whole; accept something complete.

海のものとも山のものともつかない
[うみのものともやまのものともつかない, umi no mono tomo yama no mono tomo tsukanai] something unclear or unresolved.

裏を言う
[うらをいう, ura o iu] speak ironically.

浦島太郎
[うらしまたろう, Urashima Taro] Urashima Taro (a fisherman who spent much time away from home, and like Rip van Winkle, was suprised, sad, and confused upon returning to his home). 1. もう七年間日本は行かなかったので、行ってみると浦島太郎になった気分にだった。(I haven't been to Japan for seven years, so I felt like Rip van Winkle when I went).

瓜二つである
[うりふたつである, uri futatsu de aru] be like to peas in a pod; be the spitting image of.

噂をすれば、影(がさす)
[うわさをすれば、かげ(がさす), uwasa o sureba, kage (ga sasu)] speak of the devil.

うんざりする
[うんざりする, unzari suru] be fed up with.


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