A little bit confused about "confused"

I recently got to 混乱 in Wanikani, which reminded me of something I’m still at a loss over. How do I say I’m at a loss?

Wanikani labels 混乱 as “confusion,” but since I didn’t think I’d heard it very often in Japan, I double-checked with a dictionary and sure enough, it’s more about a general (chaotic) state of confusion, which makes sense with the kanji involved.

So what is the best way to just say, in day-to-day experiences, that I was confused? (A misheard word, a custom I don’t know, etc.). Now that I’m looking, dictionaries list several. Help me through this confusion in expressing my confusion!

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Japanese people would probably use わかる for those.

The procedure was pretty complicated, so I didn’t get it at all.


ぜんぜんわからなかった or something is common

I don’t feel like I hear either quite so often, but うろつく or まごつく I believe are close to direct translations of what you’re looking for.

While not directly meaning confused, I think the word なやむ (to be troubled) may be used in similar situations? Or よくわからなかった、よくきこえなかった、 et cetera.

well ill be damned

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Well in attempt to actually add something to this ill elaborate on waza’s comment

うろつく would be what you would use (i think ) if you were at a loss for what should be done if that makes sense. Like if you dont know how to handle a situation and were at a loss for what to do, vs ぜんぜんわからなかった which is more like you just didnt understand. Hope that makes sense.

Ah, thanks all! It looks like the reason I hadn’t heard a common phrase for this is because there genuinely isn’t one outside of “全然わからなかった .” (At least, there isn’t a literal “I was confused” parallel that really makes sense in those situations.) I’ve heard and used that plenty of times, but it didn’t strike me that it really was the situational parallel.

Seems like うろつく would be reserved for weightier moments. Is that correct?

Yeah, there are some situations where the Japanese just use different sayings in everyday life, even if there is a literal translation that more fits the English words.

Like, in English when we say “it depends on…” where “to depend on” is the verb. They say によってちがう, which is literally “it differs by”. So you’d never get it right just trying to literally translate it, you just have to remember how they say that.

Yep. I’m a little embarrassed by being caught up in searching for a literal parallel here, because I’ve long since consciously tried to shake the idea that there needs to be one at all. (And really, why should there be, in two languages that developed independently? Any that we do get are basically happy accidents.) Oh well. “There is no way of doing things.”

To be fair, sometimes things come out fine translated literally. And you occasionally get idioms that are the same, with no evidence of borrowing one way or the other.

火に油を注ぐ (to add fuel to the fire)
~と波長が合う (to be on the same wavelength)


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