Ryūtō Dabi (竜頭蛇尾 – Anticlimax)

  • Ryūtō Dabi


    A situation where one starts off impressively but loses momentum at the end can be expressed with the four-character idiom, ryūtō dabi (竜頭蛇尾).

    Ryū (竜) means “dragon,” (頭) means “head,” da (蛇) means “snake,” and bi (尾) means “tail,” making literal meaning of this idiom “dragon head, snake tail.”
    「竜」は “dragon”、「頭」は “head”、「蛇」は “snake”、「尾」は “tail” を意味するので、「竜頭蛇尾」の文字どおりの意味は “dragon head, snake tail” となります。

    In other words, it means that while the beginning (head) is magnificent like a dragon, the end (tail) is thin and weak like a snake.

    It is believed that this four-character idiom originated in an ancient Chinese Buddhist Scriptures.

    Incidentally, you can use ko (虎 – meaning “tiger”) instead of ryū (竜) and say kotō dabi (虎頭蛇尾), which retains the same meaning as ryūto dabi.
    「竜」の代わりに “tiger” を意味する「虎」を使い「虎頭蛇尾」としても、同じ意味の四字熟語になります。

    Original sentence