Nekubi wo Kaku (寝首をかく – Catching Someone off Guard)

  • Nekubi wo Kaku


    Getting caught off guard with a dirty trick is called nekubi wo kaku (寝首をかく) in Japanese.

    Ne (寝) means “to sleep,” kubi (首) means “neck,” and kaku (かく) means “to scratch” or “to cut,” so the literal meaning of nekubi wo kaku is “to cut someone’s neck in his/her sleep.”
    「寝」は “sleep”、「首」は “neck”、「かく」は “to scratch/to cut off” を意味するので、「寝首の掻く」の文字どおりの意味は “to cut someone’s neck off in his sleep” となります。

    This phrase can literally mean to attack a sleeping person and cut off his/her head.

    Since attacking a person in their sleep is despicable, catching someone off guard by despicable means has come to be referred to as nekubi wo kaku.

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