Posted on: March 19, 2020 Posted by: indojapanknowledgecenter Comments: 0


四字熟語 (Yojijukugo) originally had its beginnings in China where it is known as Chengyu. Some idioms are the same both in Chinese and Japanese, while in some cases they have been slightly modified in Japanese. Some of the Japanese idioms are also taken from Buddhism, while some came into existence to represent Japanese daily life.

One caveat while learning Yojijukugo (Four Character idioms) is that characters do not necessarily represent the complete meaning of the idiom per se.

For example: 弱肉強食
弱:Weak 肉:Meat 強:Strong 食:Eat
Meaning:Survival of the fittest

Here’s a few Yojijukugo so that you can flex your Japanese Skills next time you want to make a statement.

因果応報 (いんがおうほう)
How to use: When you want to warn someone of their actions
Meaning: Karma (Good fortune good deeds, and misfortune for misdeeds).
This concept originally came from Buddhism.

七転八起 (しちてんはっき)
How to use:
When you need some encouragement or you want to encourage someone
Meaning: Keep trying; Do not give up

鯨飲馬食 (げいいん-ばしょく)
How to use: When someone is overindulging
Meaning: Consuming food/drinks excessively (Negative Connotation)

粉骨砕身 (ふんこつさいしん)
How to use: When you’re doing your best:
Meaning: To devote yourself completely to something

九死一生 (きゅうしんいっしょう)
How to use: When you almost failed, or barely survived something
Meaning: To survive by the skin of your teeth

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