Tegusune wo Hiku (手ぐすねを引く – Stand Ready)

  • Tegusune wo Hiku


    To stand fully ready to do something is called tegusune wo hiku in Japanese.

    Since te (手) means “hand,” kusune/gusune (くすね/薬煉) means “pine resin boiled with oil,” and hiku (引く) means “to put something on,” the literal meaning of this idiom is “to put kusune (pine resin boiled with oil) on one’s hands.”
    「手」は “hand”、「くすね/ぐすね(薬煉)」は松脂を油で煮て練ったもの、「引く」は “to put something on” を意味するので、「手ぐすねを引く」の文字通りの意味は “to put ‘kusune’ (pine resin boiled with oil) on one’s hands” (くすねを手に塗る)となります。

    Kusune has strong adhesive power; in the past, it was applied to a bowstring for reinforcing purposes.

    The action was in preparation for battle, which is how tegusune wo hiku came to have its current meaning.

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