Tsume ni Hi wo Tomosu (爪に火をともす – Penny Pincher)

  • Tsume ni Hi wo Tomosu


    Yesterday, I introduced you to the Japanese proverb related to tsume (爪 – nail/claw), which has a positive meaning.

    Today I would like to talk about the proverb tsume ni hi wo tomosu (爪に火をともす), which has a negative meaning.

    Since tsume means “nail,” hi (火) means “fire,” and tomosu (ともす) means “to light/burn something,” the literal meaning of this proverb is “to light one’s nail on fire.”
    「爪」は “nail,” 「火」は “fire,” 「ともす」は “to light/burn something” を意味するので、このことわざの文字通りの意味は “to light one’s nail on fire” となります。

    A person who ignites his/her nails (or oil contained in nail jam) instead of oil or candles must be very stingy or extremely frugal.

    Therefore, this proverb represents an action of a very stingy/frugal person.

    However, even if you light your nails on fire, it would not be a substitute for a candle; furthermore, it would smell horrible.

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