第190課: Idioms III: The Body

This lesson will introduce you to a lot of important idioms that even parts of the body. 

Examples

1. マンガで目の保養になりました。
    Literal: Seeing the manga book became a recreation of the eyes.
    Seeing the manga book was a feast for my eyes.

2. 待つほかに手はなかった。
    Literal: There wasn't a hand but to wait.
    There was nothing that I could do but wait for him.

3. 汚い手を使う。
    Literal: To use a dirty hand.
    To hit below the belt.

4. もし手に余るようなことがあれば
     Literal: If there is something that is too much for your hands.
     If there is something that is beyond your control

5. 先生のお言葉が今でも耳に残っています。
    Literal: What my teacher said is still even now remaining in my ear.
    What my teacher said is still even now lingering in my ear.

6. 彼は大統領の右腕として知られています。
    Literal: He is known as the president’s right arm.
    He is known as the president’s right hand man.

7. そのアイスティーは僕の口に合わなかった。
    Literal: The ice tea doesn’t go well with my mouth. 
    The ice tea doesn’t fit my tastes.

8. 借金で首が回らない。
    Literal: One’s neck can’t turn with debt.
    To be eaten up with debt.

9. 彼は首を振った。
    Literal: He nodded his neck.
    He nodded his head.

10. このケーキはおいしくて顎が落ちそうです。
      This cake is so delicious that my jaws are dropping.

11. 顎を出してしまった。
      Literal: I showed by chin.
      I got exhausted. 

12a. 首をやる。
12b. 首を切る。(To cut the neck).
        Literal: To kill the neck
        To be hanged.

13. 職務怠慢で首にした。
      Literal: To be necked due to neglect of duty. 
      To be fired due to neglect of duty.

14. 今は手が塞がっている。
      Literal: My hands are occupied now.
      My hands are full now.

15. いつまでも親の脛を齧るつもりだそうだ。
      Literal: It sounds like she plans to gnaw at her parents' shin forever.
      It sounds like she intends to sponge off her parents forever.

16. 日本語の腕を磨くために日本に引っ越しました。
      Literal: I moved to Japan in order to polish my Japanese arm.
      I moved to Japan in order to polish my Japanese skills.

17. 頭が重くなった。
      Literal: My head got heavy.
      I got a headache.

18. お小僧は大人になって頭を丸めた。
       Literal: The boy became an adult and rounded his head.
       The boy became an adult and then became a Buddhist priest. 

19. あなたにはとても頭が上がりません。
      Literal: I do not really raise my head to you.
      I have a great esteem for you.

20. その問題に頭を抱えている。
       Literal: I’m carrying my head in the problem.
       I’m racking my mind over the problem. 

21. 解決のため頭を搾る。
      Literal: To squeeze one’s head for a solution.
      To think hard on something in order to reach a solution.

22. 頭を冷やせよ。
      Literal: Cool your head.
      Cool it. 

23. 名案がぱっと頭に浮かんだ。
      Literal: A good idea suddenly floated into my mind.
      A good idea flashed before my mind. 

24. 疑念が頭を擡げてきた。
      Literal: Suspicion raised a head.
      Suspicion reared its head.

25. 頭にきた。
      Literal: It came in (my) mind.
      That makes me angry! 

26. 彼は、何をやっても足が地につかない。
      Literally: No matter what he does, his feet won't stick to the ground.
      No matter what he does, he can't stick to anything. 

27. 彼は頭が鈍くて理解が遅い。
      Literal: His mind is dull and he’s comprehension is slow.
      He’s dull-minded and slow at comprehending. 

28. 足が重い。 
      Literal: Feet are heavy.
      To have lead feet. 

29. 彼女は気が多すぎるね。
      Literal: Her spirit is too much.
      She's too fickle.  

30. とにかく頭を下げてこい。
       Literal: Anyways come over and lower your head.
       Just go and apologize. 

31. 将棋の腕が上がったな。
      Literal: Your shogi arm has risen, hasn’t it?
      Your skills in shogi have improved, haven’t they?

Below is a handful of some of the most common idioms of the body. Hundreds more exist, but this can keep you busy. The more you learn, the more you see how these phrases are constructed and about the true meanings of the words in Japanese. 

 頭が荒い To breath hard 頭が固まる To have a fixed idea
 頭が切れる To be quick thinking 頭を抱える To rack over
 顔が厚い To be impudent 顔が売れる To be popular
 顔が利く To be influential 顔を貸す To meet...wishes
 顔を潰す To blight someone's dignity 鼻であしらう To snub someone
 鼻が凹む To be put down 鼻で笑う To snicker
 耳が肥える To have an ear of 耳に立つ To strike one's ear
 口が上がる To become eloquent 口が開く To make a beginning
 唇を奪う To steal a kiss 歯が浮く To be nauseating
 歯が立つ To be edible; in one's reach 舌が伸びる To exaggerate
 舌を返す To change one's tune 目が散る To be diverted
 目が出る The die is cast 目が届く To keep an eye on
 額に汗する To do with all one's might 額を集める To confer together
 首が危ない To be in grave danger 肩が怒る To get worked up
 腕を鳴らす To gain recognition 腕を引く To make a solemn vow
 指を折る To make a vow 爪を研ぐ To prepare for a fight
 手が切れる To fall out with 手が冴える To be skilled
 手が焼ける To be troublesome 手が笑う To lose control of hands
 胸が決まる To decide to 胸が焦げる To be impatient; pine for
 胸が裂ける To be heart-broken 胴が据わる To be resolute
 臍で笑う To be preposterous 腹がある To have an agenda
 腹がいる To vent anger 胆が抜ける To be scared stiff
 胆が冷える To be scared to death 心が動く To be interested
 心が変わる To be unfaithful 心が腐る To be corrupted
 腰が落ち着く To take root 腰を上げる To take action
 足を洗う To make a new start 足を払う To trip up
 踵を巡らす To retrace steps 血が通う To be kindhearted
 脈が上がる To pass away; lose hope 脈を見る To test viability
 骨がある To have fortitude 肌で感じる To have first-hand experience
 筋を言う To split hairs 筋を書く To have in mind
 体が空く To be vacant 体が続く To be in good health

Exercises

1. At times the literal definition is meant, sometimes it's not. How would this cause an odd situation to occur?

2. Give an example of an idiom of the body where the literal definition is close to the given definition of the idiom.

3. For three body parts, show what they overall mean in idiomatic expressions. For example, liver is connected to courage in Japanese.