Japanese Idiom: To Mix Like Water & Oil

oil and water

Photo by Bill Gracey on Flickr

The Japanese idiom we’re going to look at today is also very similar to an English idiom of expressing when two things or people cannot seem to mix or get along. It’s called water and oil.

mizu to abura – 水と油 (みずとあぶら)

Meaning: Water and oil.

It’s not hard to figure out the meaning of this Japanese idiom as is has a direct translation to our own English one. Anyone who’s tried to mix oil and water knows that it’s just not possible. Mix it up us much as you want, it’s always going to separate back out again. So this idiom is to express when two people or two things just can’t mix or get along with each other.

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

Kare to kanojo wa, mizu to abura desu.


He and she are like water and oil.

Let us know if you’ve ever heard or used this idiom before :)

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