Animal Proverbs | 動物のことわざ

Photo by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash

Do you like proverbs? Proverbs is called ことわざ in Japanese.


Today I’d like to introduce to you 5 animal-related proverbs:

1. 猿も木から落ちる

Even monkeys fall from a tree

さる: monkey

き: tree 

おちる: to fall

This expression can be used to cheer up a person when he made a mistake and means “nobody’s perfect, so you don’t need to blame yourself.”

2. 蛙の子は蛙

the child of a frog is a frog (like father, like son)

かえる: frog

こ: child 

It refers to a child behaving in a similar way to his or her parent(s)

3. 猫に小判

To give a gold coin to a cat

ねこ: cat

こばん: an oval-shaped gold coin used during the Ed period 

Synonym: 豚に真珠 (casting pearls before swine)

This proverb means “to waste something good or valuable on someone who doesn’t appreciate”.

4. 馬の耳に念仏

A prayer to the Buddha into a horse’s ears (Speaking to the deaf)

うま: horse

みみ: ear

ねんぶつ: Buddhist mantra

This phrase can be used when you try giving advice to someone but it goes in one ear and out the other.

5. 犬も歩けば棒に当たる

If a dog walks, it will hit a stick 

いぬ: dog

あるく: to walk

ぼう: stick

あたる: to hit

This means, if a dog walks around, it may get lucky or unlucky unexpectedly – it may get a bone, or it may get hit by a harmful person.

So depending on the context, you can use this proverb to describe a lucky or unlucky event that took place due to your previous action.

On extra proverb

ちりもつもれば 山となる

If the dust piles up, it would make a mountain.

ちり: dust 

つもる: to pile up

やま: mountain

なる: to become

Which means small things add up to make a big difference.

So let’s keep studying!

If you have similar proverbs in your language, please comment below.

If you are interested in learning more Japanese proverbs, please check out my Instagram account for daily proverbs and vocabulary and also my new book for learning the 100 most used Japanese proverbs.

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