CultureEssayIdiomJapanese traditionProverbUncorrected

Ha ni Kinu Kise nu (歯に衣着せぬ – Outspoken)

  • Ha ni Kinu Kise nu


    The concept of speaking one’s thoughts frankly without indirect expressions can be described as ha ni kinu kise nu (歯に衣着せぬ) in Japanese.

    Since ha (歯) means “tooth,” kinu (衣) means “clothes,” kise/kiseru (着せ/着せる) means “to put on,” and nu (ぬ) is a negative suffix, the literal meaning of this expression is “not to put clothes on one’s teeth.”
    「歯」は “tooth”、「衣」は “clothes”、「着せ/着せる」は “to put on”、「ぬ」は否定の接尾辞であるため、「歯に衣着せぬ」の文字どおりの意味は “not to put clothes on one’s teeth” となります。

    While you can’t literally put clothes on your teeth, in this context, kinu is used as a metaphor for something that hides or adorns your teeth.

    In other words, it implies that the teeth (and even the mouth) that are not hidden and adorned can speak frankly without any pretense.

    Original sentence