One kanyouku (idiomatic expression) for each level

It’s the sequel to One yojijukugo (four character idiomatic compound) for each level.

Sorry, I don’t know of any way to get anything like the star ratings for these, but they all came from things like lists of common idioms, and study lists for elementary school students, so I don’t think anything super rare is in here.

I prioritized ones that included words that WK doesn’t teach, like 報いる or 怪我

I didn’t bother providing literal translations, because I thought you might enjoy trying to figure those out.

Levels 1-10

Summary

Level 1: 力を入れる
ちからをいれる
to put effort into; to strain
例: あの政治家は、自然環境の保護に力を入れたいと言っている。
That politician says they want to make an effort to protect the environment.

Level 2: 目がない
めがない
extremely fond of; having a weakness for; being a sucker for​
例: 甘いものには、目がない
I’m a sucker for sweet things.

Level 3: シラを切る
しらをきる (also written as 白を切る, but I like that it would still count for this level)
to feign ignorance; to play innocent
例: シラを切っても、証拠が挙がっているぞ。
Even if you feign ignorance, we’ve got evidence, you know.

Level 4: 耳が早い
みみがはやい
being first to know about something​
例: ゲームマニアの弟は新しいゲームの情報には耳が早い
My gamer brother is always the first to know about new game info.

Level 5: 気を回す
きをまわす
to read too much into things; to get wrong ideas by letting one’s imagination run wild
例: 気を回しすぎて、いつも失敗してしまうので、もっと気楽に生きていけたらなと思う。
I wish I could be more carefree, because I always read too much into stuff and end up screwing things up.

Level 6: 首を長くする
くびをながくする
to eagerly look forward to​
例: 大好きなアーティストがこの県に来るのを首を長くして待っていた。
I was eagerly awaiting my favorite artist coming to this prefecture.

Level 7: くちばしが黄色い
くちばしがきいろい
fledgling; young and inexperienced; green; wet behind the ears​
例: くちばしが黄色い少年ばかり集めて軍隊を作るなんて、この国が終わっているなぁ。
We’re putting together an army with nothing but wide-eyed boys. We’re done for.

Level 8: さじを投げる
さじをなげる
to give up (something as hopeless); to throw in the towel​
例: こんなに強そうな相手には勝てないと、戦う前にさじを投げる
If I’m facing an opponent that looks so strong that I can’t win, I just throw in the towel.

Level 9: 図に乗る
ずにのる
to get carried away; to push one’s luck; to push a good thing too far​
例: 最初はうまくいっていたのに、図に乗って銀行から借金をして店を拡大したところ、うまくいかなくなったみたいですね。
Everything was going well at first, but when they got carried away borrowing money to expand the shop, it seems like it started to go wrong.

Level 10: 肉が落ちる
にくがおちる
to lose weight; to slim down
例: 大人になったら、自然と肉が落ちるんですか。
When you become an adult, do you just lose weight naturally?

Levels 11-20

Summary

Level 11: 後ろ指を指される
うしろゆびをさされる
to be talked about behind one’s back​

Level 12: 根に持つ
ねにもつ
to hold a grudge; to hold something against somebody​

Level 13: 輪をかける
わをかける
to exceed; to be even more (so); to exaggerate​

Level 14: 骨が折れる
ほねがおれる
to require much effort; to be hard to do

Level 15: 軍配をあげる
ぐんばいをあげる
to declare someone the winner of a competition

Level 16: ミイラ取りがミイラになる
みいらとりがみいらになる
attempting to persuade someone and ending up getting persuaded yourself

Level 17: 二階から目薬
にかいからめぐすり
something that cannot be done no matter how hard one tries (and is slightly frustrating because of this)

Level 18: 一矢報いる
いっしむくいる
to retaliate; to return a blow; to strike back at; to retort​

Level 19: 口が減らない
くちがへらない
always having another argument ready; never at a loss for words​

Level 20: 鳴かず飛ばず
なかずとばず
living in obscurity; lying low; remaining unnoticed​

Levels 21-30

Summary

Level 21: 目の敵にする
めのかたきにする
to hate the very sight of; to hold a grudge against; to treat like an enemy

Level 22: 寝耳に水
ねみみにみず
bolt from the blue; great surprise

Level 23: あうんの呼吸
あうんのこきゅう
the harmonizing, mentally and physically, of two parties engaged in an activity; dancing to the same beat​

Level 24: 猫の額
ねこのひたい
tiny area; tiny surface

Level 25: 舌を巻く
したをまく
to be astonished​

Level 26: 怪我の功名
けがのこうみょう
fortunate error; lucky break; fluke​

Level 27: 力を貸す
ちからをかす
to assist; to help out​

Level 28: 肩を並べる
かたをならべる
to be on par with

Level 29: 板につく
いたにつく
to get used to one’s work; to become accustomed to one’s position​

Level 30: 懐を肥やす
ふところをこやす
to feather one’s nest; to line one’s pockets

Levels 31-40

Summary

Level 31: 棒に振る
ぼうにふる
to make a mess of; to sacrifice; to waste​

Level 32: 恩に着せる
おんにきせる
to remind someone of a favor you’ve done; to demand gratitude

Level 33: 伝家の宝刀を抜く
でんかのほうとうをぬく
to employ one’s secret weapon; to play one’s trump card

Level 34: 煙幕を張る
えんまくをはる
to throw up a smokescreen

Level 35: 油を売る
あぶらをうる
to loaf (particularly on the job); to idle one’s time away

Level 36: 二の足を踏む
にのあしをふむ
to hesitate; to think twice; to shy; to flinch​

Level 37: 頭を抱える
あたまをかかえる
to be at wits’ end; to be greatly perplexed

Level 38: 耳を傾ける
みみをかたむける
to lend an ear; to give an ear to

Level 39: 群を抜く
むれをぬく
to surpass the rest (e.g. of a large group); to stand out from the crowd

Level 40: 薄氷を踏む
はくひょうをふむ
to be on thin ice

Levels 41-50

Summary

Level 41: 虎の子
とらのこ
one’s treasure; precious

Level 42: 手に汗を握る
てにあせをにぎる
to sit on the edge of one’s seat; to be in breathless suspense​

Level 43: 年貢の納め時
ねんぐのおさめどき
time to pay the piper

Level 44: 血も涙もない
ちもなみだもない
cold-blooded; unfeeling; heartless; heart of stone; inconsiderate​

Level 45: 腕を磨く
うでをみがく
to polish one’s skills​

Level 46: 泡を食う
あわをくう
to be flurried; to be confused; to lose one’s head​

Level 47: 掌を返す
てのひらをかえす
to change one’s attitude quickly

Level 48: 蚊の鳴くような声
かのなくようなこえ
an extremely quiet voice

Level 49: 鶴の一声
つるのひとこえ
the final word; voice of authority

Level 50: 肝に銘ずる
きもにめいずる
to inscribe on one’s heart

Levels 51-60

Summary

Level 51: 奥歯に物が挟まる
おくばにものがはさまる
to talk around something; to imply something in a roundabout way

Level 52: 大風呂敷を広げる
おおぶろしきをひろげる
to talk big; to be bombastic​

Level 53: 瓜二つ
うりふたつ
two peas in a pod

Level 54: 鎌をかける
かまをかける
to trick someone; to ask a leading question

Level 55: 元の木阿弥
もとのもくあみ
ending up right back where one started

Level 56: 拍車を掛ける
はくしゃをかける
to spur (on); to expedite; to encourage​

Level 57: 烏の行水
からすのぎょうずい
a quick bath

Level 58: お茶を濁す
おちゃをにごす
to be evasive; to give an evasive answer; to cook up a specious story to get out of an uncomfortable situation​

Level 59: 峠を越す
とうげをこす
to pass the peak (of something); to get through the most difficult part; to be over the worst (e.g. an illness)​

Level 60: 狐につままれる
きつねにつままれる
to be confused

53 Likes

Do we get a reward if we knew none of these?

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I got excited because I already knew the first one, but I literally only knew one other :joy: (number 29). I didn’t actually realise the first was idiomatic.

I love the image number 4 conjures up of a speedy ear zooming around.

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I can see how some of them work, I guess. Like 首を長くする = stretch your neck out (because you’re trying to spot something coming).

But…

… to have no eyes?

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The idea is that you’re so enthralled or enchanted by something that you can’t discriminate properly what between what you should and shouldn’t do. As in, if you did have eyes you would recognize your bias.

Or something.

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In English, it’s quite common to say blind spot figuratively, which has different connotations but is kind of the same idea!

And thanks again, Leebo! Surprisingly cross-cultural exercises to the reader.

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Can’t wait for the flirt edition.

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How would you use 目がない in a sentence? I can’t figure out where the indirect object would go.
Same with:

  • ミイラ取りがミイラになる
  • 二階から目薬
  • 根に持つ
  • 輪をかける

ぐんばいをあげる
I’m assuming a sentence with this would go something like, 「こういちさんはりーぼさんに軍配を上げました。」

舌を巻く
Does this literally mean “to roll [one’s] tongue”?
----Some of these have very different literal and English equivalent meanings… Have to be careful!

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日本酒には、目がない。
I’m a sucker for sake.

Searching for these with 例文 should produce example sentences.

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The English idiom that came to mind immediately I read this was, “Love is blind”

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Another great compilation!

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The items for levels 1 to 10 now have example sentences.

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Thanks for putting so much work into these threads! I’ve been shamelessly mining them for interesting phrases. さらなる例文を首を長くしています!

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