CultureEssayEtymologyIdiomJapanese traditionProverbUncorrected

Se ni Hara wa Kaerarenu (背に腹はかえられぬ – Necessity Knows No Law)

  • Se ni Hara wa Kaerarenu


    To protect something important, some sacrifice may be inevitable.

    To explain this fact, you can use the Japanese proverb, se ni hara wa kaerarenu (背に腹はかえられぬ).

    Since se (背) means “back,” hara (腹) means “abdomen,” and kaerarenu (変えられぬ) means “can’t be replaced,” the literal meaning of this proverb is “your abdomen can’t be replaced with your back.”
    「背」は “back”、「腹」は “abdomen”、「かえられぬ」は “can’t be replaced” を意味するので、「背に腹はかえられぬ」の文字どおりの意味は “your abdomen can’t be replaced with your back” となります。

    In other words, you can’t sacrifice your abdomen containing your vital organs in order to avoid sacrificing your back.

    Original sentence