CultureEssayEtymologyIdiomJapanese traditionKanjiLanguageUncorrected

Ha ga Tatanai (歯が立たない – Unable to Compete With)

  • Ha ga Tatanai


    The Japanese idiom ha ga tatanai is used to describe a situation where someone is beyond your abilities and you cannot compete with them.

    Ha (歯) means “tooth.”
    Tatsu/tata (立つ/立た) means “to stand.”
    Nai (ない) is a negative suffix.
    「歯」・・・ “tooth”
    「立つ/立た」・・・ “to stand”

    Therefore, the literal meaning of ha ga tatanai is “one’s teeth cannot stand.”
    したがって、「歯が立たない」の文字どおりの意味は “one’s teeth cannot stand” となります。

    This idiom also means being unable to bite something because it is too hard.

    From the concept of something being too hard to bite and eat, it came to mean a situation where one’s abilities are insufficient to overcome someone or something.

    Original sentence