Kobu and Tankobu (「瘤」と「たんこぶ」 – Bump)

  • Kobu and Tankobu


    In my post yesterday, I introduced the Japanese idiom meno ue no kobu (目の上の瘤 meaning “a thorn in one’s side”), which uses the term kobu (瘤 – meaning “bump”).

    You can also say me no ue no tankobu (目の上のたんこぶ), by using tankobu (たんこぶ – meaning “bump”) instead of kobu (瘤).

    It is thought that tankobu was made by attaching the onomatopoeia tan (たん), which represents a hitting sound, to kobu.

    In fact, tankobu usually refers to a bump caused by a bruise, whereas kobu refers to a bump regardless of the cause.

    Incidentally, the sound of tankobu has a childish impression compared to kobu.

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