Japanese Idiom: Snakes Know Another Snake’s Path

Photo Credit: Dakiny

Photo Credit: Dakiny

Here’s a fun idiom to describe a rather slippery character. It reminds me of a similar English idiom “he’s a snake in the grass”, but this Japanese idiom has a bit more to do with comparing one snake to another.

Let’s take a look!

ja no michi wa hebi – 蛇の道は蛇 (じゃのみちはへび)

Meaning: Snakes know a snake’s path

This idiom could probably be most closely compared to the English expression “it takes one to know one”. It implies that a snake will recognize another snake’s path, or a slimy person will quickly understand what another slimy person is up to.

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

Ja no michi wa hebi dakara, kare ga nani o takurande iru ka wakarimasu.

蛇の道は蛇だから、彼が何をたくらんでいるかわかります。

Because snakes know a snake’s path, I understand what he’s plotting.

So this may not be the best Japanese idiom to use on yourself, but I bet you would get a lot of surprised looks if you try it out :) Let us know if you have ever heard this idiom or if you try it out in a conversation!

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