Saturday, April 28, 2007

I'm a cat's tongue.

There are many idioms / expressions with animals.
Today, I introduce you some popular idioms using "cat".
Cat is 猫 (neko) in Japanese.

① 猫の手も借りたい
  (neko no te mo karitai)

I want to borrow even cat's hands.

This expression means...
I'm very busy.

I know cats are not helpful at all for my work, but I'd appriciate if a cat helped me as I'm very busy now.

「un. neko no te mo karitai hododayo.」

"You seem busy."
"Yeah, I'm extremely busy."

② 猫糞 / ネコババ

Cat's dropping (excrements)

This expression means...
To pocket, steal something and pretend not to know

Cats cover their droppings with sand.

They seem hide something bad and pretend not to know anything.

kyou kouen de senen hirotte nekobaba shichatta!

Today, I picked up 1000yen and I stole it!

This expression might sound dirty or disgusting.
But actually it doesn't.
Most of Japanese people know and use this expression, but lots of people don't know that ババ(baba) of ネコババ(nekobaba) means "dropping".

③ 猫舌

Cat's tongue

This expression describes...
Someone who cannot eat hot food

Cat's don't like hot drinks/food.

kono ocha atsuine! watashi nekojita nannda.

This greentea is hot, isn't it!
I'm a person who cannot eat hot food.

I've heard there isn't an English expression for 猫舌(nekojita).
Is that right?
Don't you think it's quite useful expression? :)


  1. Akiko-san,

    How are you? Yup, there's no such idiom in English. However, there're other idioms with the use of cat but not part of a cat. For example, "it's raining dogs and cats." It means it's raining heavily. Surely, you know it, don't you?

    By the way, I came to know a phrase using part of a cat. It's 猫の額 which is used to describe a small place. Is it very common for use in Japanese?

    Dewa matta ne!

  2. There is also an expression "(Has the) cat got your tongue?", used colloquially sometimes in England when someone has become speechless from astonishment.

  3. It's in "Golden Week" in Japan now.
    I have 4 days off.

    >"it's raining dogs and cats."
    Yes, I've heard the expression!
    That's cute☆
    By the way, why do you use cats and dogs for describing heavy rain??
    Actually, I was going to write about this expression, too for this blog. ^_^
    This is the most famous phrase with a cat in Japanese I guess.
    You often use this phrase for describing your garden or room.

    >"(Has the) cat got your tongue?"
    That's interesting, too!
    If I don't know the meaning, I cannot guess what the expression describes, right?
    I'll try to use it for my British friend! (^ ^)

  4. I'm not sure the origin of the phrase, but this gives some possible origins of the phrase, as apparently there isn't one:

    I hope that helps

  5. >Jair
    Interesting website!
    I add the website to my bookmark. ^_^
    I guess the Japanese one is on the internet, too.
    I should find it!

  6. Akiko-san,

    Please let me know if you've found the website for Japanese. I'll appreciate that!

    Have a nice golden week holiday!

    Matta ne!

  7. I found some books about Japanese expressions, but cannot find any good website so far...
    Okay! When I find something, I'll post the information. (^ ^)v

  8. Hi Akiko,

    I remember hearing a saying in Japanese to describe someone who doesn't stand up straight. I think it is nekoze (cat shoulder). Is that right?

  9. I'm late to comment on this one, but was wondering what the yomikata for 猫の額 is. I've never heard that one before.

    In English there's also "letting the cat out of the bag," which means to tell a secret.

    About the raining cats and dogs idiom, I don't know why we say that, but my grandfather once told me this joke:

    Q: Why should you stay inside when it's raning cats and dogs?
    A: Because if you go out, you might step in a poodle.

    My grandfather really loves puns. :-)

  10. >Bill

    That's right!
    We say 猫背(nekoze) for describing someone who doesn't stand up straight.
    That's cute expression, too, isn't it?
    I remember that my mother used to say me not to do nekoze when I was a child.


    You read 猫の額 "neko no hitai".

    >"letting the cat out of the bag,"
    I'll try to use it!
    (Hmm... first, I have to tell someone my secret though...)

    By the way, I couldn't understand your grandfather's pun.
    Sorry... Can you explain that!? (*_*)
    I found a cute phrase when I was checking the dictionary to find out the pun's meaning.
    "Be his poodle"
    Do you often use this expression?
    Tha's funny. (^o^)

  11. Anonymous9:15 AM


    I'm not the original poster, but the pun with stepping in a "poodle" is referring to the dog breed poodle, as well as a similar word "puddle" meaning a small body of rain water.

    Great blog!

  12. Thank you for your comments. :)
    I like this pun.
    It's so cute!
    You know, this kind of pun is often used in movies.
    It seems very difficult to tranlate, don't you think so!? (*_*)

  13. I've often been told I have a cat's tongue because I cannot eat or drink food of a hot temperature. Seem's like someone here in New York is aware of that idiom at the very least.

  14. Ah, finally I know what a cat's tongue has to do with hot food!

    Saw this on a "warning sign":



  15. In America, we also say "on cats paws" meaning silently.

    "This morning's snow came on cats paws."

    1. Anonymous4:24 PM

      That means it comes silently and unnoticed right, my grandmother used to say it.

  16. For a small space we say there's "not enough room to swing a cat."

  17. Anonymous4:18 AM

    I found information about the idiom " has a cat got your tongue?" It was ob a web site. I will leave the url here for you to read. I love puns idioms, other cultures and CATS! - Helen from U S.

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  19. Anonymous5:05 PM

    More on "let the cat out of the bag": It supposedly referred to people putting cats into bags and taking them to market, then claiming it was a piglet in the bag & selling it. Letting out the cat revealed the deception. There's another phrase that goes with it about not being able to put the cat back in the bag. (Once the truth is known, there's nothing you can do to hide it.)

  20. Anonymous4:49 AM

    what about 'tereru neko'?
    does it even exist?

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