Enpitsu Namename (鉛筆なめなめ – Think Seriously / Balance a Budget)

  • Enpitsu Namename


    Today, I learned a phrase used by older people, called enpitsu namename (鉛筆なめなめ).

    Since enpitsu (鉛筆) means “pencil,” and namename (なめなめ) is a repetition of name (なめ) in nameru (舐める), which means “to lick,” the literal meaning of enpitsu namename is “to lick a pencil.”
    「鉛筆」は “pencil”、「なめなめ」は “to lick” を意味する「舐める」の「なめ」を繰り返した表現であるため、「鉛筆なめなめ」の文字通りの意味は “to lick a pencil” となります。

    Can you guess what it actually means?

    The answer is “to think seriously” or “to balance a budget.”

    The former came from the fact that the licking of a pencil looks like a thinking gesture, and the latter came from the fact that people used to lick the tips of poor-quality pencils to write clearly.

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