Here Are Some Great Yojijukugo

I’m not very interested in teaching people Japanese, but I’m making an exception with this post. I want you to know some of my favorite yojijukugo (四字熟語/four-character phrases). These are phrases that are made up of 4 kanji characters, and some of them are very useful and/or fun to say. For example:

老若男女 (rou nyaku nan nyo)

老 = old
若 = young
男 = man
女 = woman
老若男女 = all people (old, young, men, women, etc.)

起死回生 (ki shi kai sei)

起 = get up
死 = death
回 = turn
生 = life
起死回生 = make a comeback from the brink of defeat


“Kishikaisei Story” (起死回生STORY) by The Oral Cigarettes

男尊女卑 (dan son jo hi)

男 = man
尊 = revered
女 = woman
卑 = lowly
男尊女卑 = valuing men over women; chauvinism

弱肉強食 (jaku niku kyou shoku)

弱 = weak
肉 = meat
強 = strong
食 = eat
弱肉強食 = survival of the fittest

一切合切 (issai gassai)

一 = one
切 = cut
合 = total
切 = cut
一切合切 = the whole kit and caboodle


“Issai Gassai” (イッサイガッサイ) by Kreva

言語道断 (gon go dou dan)

言 = word
語 = language
道 = path
断 = cut off
言語道断 = so ridiculous, outrageous, etc. that there are no words to describe it

一石二鳥 (i sseki ni chou)

一 = one
石 = stone
二 = two
鳥 = bird
一石二鳥 = exactly what you think it means

There are many, many, MANY MANY MANY more yojijukugo–one for almost any situation! Why don’t you browse through this list of 3,300 of them and see if any of them speak to you?

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