Japanese

Weekly Yojijukugo – 四苦八苦

This week’s idiom is 四苦八苦 (しくはっく).

I found this one in my Chibi Maruko no Yojijukugo Shitsu book.

The compounds in this idiom are 四苦 and 八苦, which mean four kinds of suffering and eight kinds of suffering, respectively.

Since this is a lot of suffering in one, it means to be in distress. Like, to be extremely troubled over something. The thought behind this idiom stems from Buddhism.

In Buddhism, there are four causes of suffering:
  • Birth
  • Aging
  • Sickness
  • Death

There are also four more, which when added to the original four, makes 八苦, or eight sufferings.

These additional four are:
  • Separation from loved ones
  • The pain of meeting someone one hates/dislikes
  • Not being able to obtain the things one desires
  • The five senses (physical form, mind/feelings, will, imagination, and consciousness) which allows one to feel attachment

That was deeper than I expected. But the short version, as stated before, is that it means to be in extreme distress. I guess a good time to use this would be when you have a 6-page paper due in two hours that you haven’t started even though you knew about the assignment months in advance. #truestory

What do you think?

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