Japanese Idiom: Having Hellish Ears

ear

Photo by ukmari on Flickr

At first glance, today’s idiom is hard one to decipher. What exactly are hellish ears anyway? Enter…and all will be revealed.

jigokumimi – 地獄耳

The best way to decipher the Japanese idiom “hellish ears” is to compare it to the English idiom of having a “nose for news”. It’s almost identical in meaning (funny how that is). It means a person is particularly good at picking up information and is very keen at knowing what is going on around them.

I also get a kick out of the literal translation of the kanji as – ground prison ear.

Here’s an example sentence from the book 2001 Japanese and English Idioms:

Kare wa jigokumimi dakara, ki o tsukenassai.

彼は地獄耳だから、気をつけなさい

Be careful around him: he has hellish ears.

As usual, let us know if you’ve ever heard or used this idiom before.

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