四字熟語 Thread

The Yojijukugo. Those enigmatic little four-character compounds, seemingly emblematic of death itself to the aspiring 日本語 learner - at least until one sits down and learns them.

I’m trying to learn a lot of yojijukugo, as they seem to be a current weak spot in my Japanese language/cultural knowledge (though for all I know, maybe they aren’t used commonly in 日常). Please post your favorites here!

Some of mine:

四面楚歌 しめんそか - meaning “surrounded on all sides by enemies.”

晴耕雨読 せいこううどく - meaning “working in the field in the sun and reading in the rain; dividing one’s time between work and intellectual pursuits.”

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Cool idea for a thread.

I found another Blog post about Yojikugo:
# “Yojijukugo”: The Compressed Poetry of Four-Character Idioms
and was pleasantly surprised that I know a few already, including:
十人十色

jūnin toiro

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Of the handful I actually use, 自業自得 is my favorite

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百薬之長 = the medicine that cures a hundred ailments.

Which is to say, alcohol.

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I like 一生懸命, it’s very “Japanese” and very common (N4, Kanshudo Top 3000).

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In my mind recently is 誠心誠意せいしんせいい.

Somehow I still think 株式会社

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There was a thread last year where somebody pulled all the four character terms out of a vocabulary frequency list. The upshot was that almost all the four character terms with any frequency at all were ones most people wouldn’t classify as yojijukugo, like 大学院生. A few are super common, like 一生懸命 and 中途半端. A bit further down the list is 試行錯誤. (Partly this is a reflection of the vocab list coming from newspapers; it would be interesting to repeat the exercise with a novel based frequency list.)

I think what I took from that frequency list is that “real” idiomatic 四字熟語 are pretty rare, except for a tiny handful of common ones, and so it’s OK not to treat them specially when learning vocabulary, but instead to learn only the ones that seem to be turning up a lot in your reading or listening.

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I like 諸行無常 (しょぎょうむじょう) - all things must pass

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魑魅魍魎 and 空前絶後 are two slightly less common ones I’ve seen often enough to remember them so I like those

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This is a case of the written language being at least as important as the spoken…

oh, this is horrendous. I kind of love it.

Personally, I’ve seen 大器晩成 reasonably often, and I recently saw 意気投合, which I thought was neat since they’re all pretty low-level kanji.

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Any recommendations on the best resources to learn 四字熟語?

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I posted this on another thread some time ago, but I’ll share here, too. Might be my favorite 四字熟語.

自炊湯治、じすいとうじ - A long stay at a hot spring to heal one’s body after a time of hard work. Guests brought their own food and cooked (the 自炊 part of the word). You can find a detailed explanation here: https://youtu.be/6n_C_2Q4ZlI?t=587.

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https://yoji.jitenon.jp/ is a J-J 四字熟語 dictionary. Though before you put too much effort into learning them, keep in mind you wouldn’t generally be able to use most of these in regular conversations outside of fairly common ones like 一生懸命.

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非僧非俗
ひそうひぞく
Neither a monk nor a layperson.
Coined by Shinran?

I placed this here so I remember it in the morning. :smile:

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Not very poetic, and perhaps just two words smushed together, but -

不在着信 ふざいちゃくしん, meaning missed call

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