「日刊四字」へようこそ!

Now Featuring 1級 Grammar, Everyday Japanese That You Won't Find in the Book, and Language and Cultural Trivia!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

表現 Break: 寝耳に水

ねみみにみず
ne mimi ni mizu

Like water in your sleeping ear? That's one theory (according to this website), but the more likely explanation is that the 耳 in this case is used in the same sense as 耳にする: to hear.

Definition:
不意の出来事に、ひどく驚くことのたとえ。
Translations:
1. Like a bolt out of the blue.
2. Like a flash-flood

As the site explains (see reference above), if you imagine the water to be a flooding river, you get the image of suddenly being able to hear (or being awakened) by the sound of rushing water coming your way. This, more than the idea of having water poured into your ear, captures the sense of fearful shock that this expression is used to convey.

例文:私の主人がパチンコで私たちの貯金を全部使い果たしたことを初めて聞いた時は寝耳に水だった。
When I found out that my husband lost all of our savings at pachinko, it was like being caught unawares in the raging waters of a flash-flood.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

右翼団体員は彼の娘を白人と駆け落ちしたの知らせをきったら寝耳に水だった。
When the right-winger heard the news that his daughter had eloped with a white boy, he was shocked.

anonymous Clay

AzzidisRidden said...

That one hits home...

Yuri's folks aren't right-wingers, but apparently they're really upset about the idea of her being with a foreigner. I haven't met them yet, but will have to eventually.

In the meantime, she says they're SLOWLY 諦めている。

Defendership said...

教頭先生の俺を殺す計画をふと耳にしてしまって寝耳に水だった。

I was shocked to overhear the principal's plan to kill me.

Is there a better way to write this? I always feel retarded whenever I have two "を"s so close together..

Claytonian said...

Yeah, things get weird; I still don't think a gf has admitted that we dated to her parents though they, and more importantly the dog, love me.

BTW, I got grief when I tried this one out on Lang-8 because it's not technically a 四字熟語. But it has four 字s, says I...
Anyways, they gave me a cool link there for idioms.

Nirav said...

誰かさん:俺様にほれない女がいるなんて、寝耳に水だったよ!

A certain someone: I couldn't believe there could actually be a woman who wouldn't fall in love with me!

Brett - I can't really think of a way to remove both of the を's in that sentence. You could definitely lengthen the sentence to make them further apart (e.g. 教頭先生が俺を殺そうと企んでるのをふと耳にして、寝耳に水だった!) but I don't think it's really ネササリー here.

AzzidisRidden said...

Yeah, it's not a yo-ji-juku-go, it's a kotowaza, or a hyougen, which is why it's posted under the hyougen break section... Be careful with that.