Japanese Idiom: Having Hellish Ears


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.


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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