Kanyouku - Idioms in Japanese


Do you know what idioms are? They are words or phrases that have meanings beyond the interpretation of the word. In Japanese, idiomatic words are called kanyouku [慣用 句]. In this article we will see a gigantic list of idioms in Japanese.

For those who live in the world of the moon, idioms are phrases or words that have hidden meanings that cannot be seen just by reading, but living the daily life and culture of the nation. Expressions like abandon the boat (giving up), hanging up his boots (retiring), stepping on eggs (delicate situation) and so on.

Kanyouku - Idioms

The word Kanyouku [慣用 句] is made up of the ideograms [慣] which means getting used to it; [用] which means to use and employ; and [句] which means phrase. Meaning that we need to get used to the fact that the expression means something other than what we read or hear.

In English, this type of expression is called idom which in Japanese is transcribed as language [イ デ ィ オ ム]. There are other Japanese words that refer basically to the same thing they are:

  • Kanyouku [慣用 句] - Composed of two or more words;
  • Kanyougo [慣用 語] - Language Language;
  • Kanyougoku [慣用 語句];
  • Kanyouhyougen [慣用 表現] - Fixed Expression;
  • Kanyourengo [慣用 連 語];
  • Seiku [成 句 - Idiom; Aphorism; Saying; Quote;
  • Jyukugo [熟語] - With Ideograms;
  • Yojijukugo [四字 熟語] - With four ideograms;

Each of the above terms has a different nuance that I personally cannot explain, but it is generalized as [イ デ ィ オ ム]. Sometimes it can be confused with japanese sayings Kotowaza which can also be considered idioms.

It is worth remembering that some slang and profanity are idioms. In fact, many words in the Japanese language are at least a little idiomatic, mainly because they group together many meanings and have ideograms.

Generally an idiom can contain proverbs, lessons, sarcasm, law of things and others. It is also worth remembering the word kakugen [格言] which are easy to remember expressions about human life, truths, commandments, martial arts, prices, quotes, notices and deals.

An example of kakugen is in the Bible in the gospel of Matthew where it says “Enter through the narrow gate”[狭 き 門 よ り 入 れ]. Or the expression "Cry and cut the horse [泣 い て 馬 謖 を 斬 る] by Sangokushi.

Idioms are also metaphorical expressions with fixed meanings. If you don't understand the meaning correctly, you can use it in a strange way or you can give the wrong person the wrong answer.

You will now informally learn to speak Japanese using popular idioms. The list below has words and phrases that take on different meanings than the words would have if they were expressed in isolation.

You might want to buy a cheap book on idioms in the Japanese language below:

Last updated on 19 de April de 2021 12:17 PM
Japanese proverbs - ninja phrase list - kotowaza
Japanese Proverbs - Ninja Phrase List - Kotowaza

Japanese Idioms

Japanese idioms from the list below:

Barcode Man
Bākōdo hito [バ ー コ ー ド 人] Used to refer to some types of hairstyles.  
The suffix keep junction kun [君]
Kiipukun [キ ー プ 君] - It means maintaining a relationship until you find Someone better.  
Heavy Ass, Soft Ass and Clean Ass
Shirigaomoi [尻 が 重 い] - Heavy ass to refer to the lazy and indolent. 
Shirigakarui [尻 が 軽 い] - Bunda Leve to refer to the careless; reckless and promiscuous.
Shirinugui [尻 拭 い] - Cleaning the ass means cleaning up someone else's mess. 
Pull the hand
Tewonuku [手 を 抜 く] - Do a bad job; 
Light Mouth 
Kuchi ga karui [口 が 軽 い] - Unable to keep a secret. 
My head hurts 
Atama ga itai [頭 が 痛 い] - If you are stressed by something. 
Fire in hand 
Hinote [火 の 手] - Attack, aggression. 
Good head 
Atamagaii [頭 が いい] - Intelligent, brilliant; 
Two melons 
Urifutatsu [瓜 二 つ] - As similar as (two peas in a pod). 
Sleeping with ears in the water 
Nemiminimizu [寝 耳 に 水] - Great surprise, fright, astonishment; 
Sell Oil 
Aburawouru [油 を 売 る] - Wasting time; to take time; 
Black Belly
Haragakuroi [腹 が 黒 い] - Conspirator; malicious; perverse.

Idioms involving Animals

Cat's tongue
Nekojita [猫 舌] - Used to refer to people who are sensitive to hot drink. 
Cat's Veil
Nekokaburi [猫 か ぶ り] - Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, someone pretending to be naive. 
Sparrow Tears
Suzume in namida [雀 の 涙] - Small quantity, insignificant quantity, fall into the bucket.  
In the horse field
Yajiuma [野 次 馬] - Curious spectators, people who go after an incident that they don't have; rubber neck; 
  • Mushigaii [虫 が いい] - Selfish; asking too much;
  • Kenennohaka [犬 猿 の 仲] - Like dogs and cats (in the case of monkeys and dogs);

Below are some more idioms involving cats:

  • Nekonoatama [猫 の 額] - Cat's forehead; A small place;
  • Nekonome [猫 の 目] - Cat eyes; The situation changes quickly;
  • Dorobouneko [泥 棒 猫] - Do bad things secretly; home wrecker;

As time goes by, I will update this list. If you wish, we have a PDF file in Japanese with a list of over 1000 idioms that can be downloaded from the website biglobe.

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