Idioms I: 気

第186課: Idioms I: 気

There are tons of idioms with 気. There is no simple definition of 気. It can refer to one’s spirit, mind, disposition, mood, intention, feeling, attention, interest, etc. It can also refer to the atmosphere or the essence of something. All of these have a common theme. Once you begin seeing expressions with it, this will become much clearer. 

The Idioms

   The literal interpretations of idioms gives us an insight on how truly different Japanese words things in comparison to English. Don’t let this, though, make you unable to understand them. Keep in mind that 気 is just a normal noun. There’s nothing really different from it than words in English with lots of usages or those found in many set phrases.

Don’t view this list as bunch of set phrases whose literal meanings are just bizarre. This is certainly not how the Japanese view them. In every language, there are idiomatic phrases that have deviated so far from the original meanings of the words that they are composed of that you have to treat them as separate items in one’s vocabulary. But, for the most part, the Japanese really think of 気 expressions with the literal interpretations provided in the right column.

Also, idioms are not equal in idiomacy (level of being idiomatic). Some may be very similar to the English phrasing minus a word here and there. The Japanese itself in 気 phrases may be far more abstract than others. For instance, 気が重い is more straightforward than 気をそろえる. Keep all of this in mind as you look at this list and the example sentences that follow. 

  Meaning Literal Meaning
 気を張る To pay attention to To stretch the mind
 気を使う To fuss about; attend to To use the mind
 気を回す To be suspicious To spin the mind
 気をそろえる To pull together To line up one’s feelings
 気を通す To have the sense to To carry through the mind
 気が付く To notice To attach to the mind (intrans.)
 気を付ける To be careful To attach to the mind (trans.)
 気になる To be on one’s mind To become in mind
 気に入る To like/be fond of To enter the mind
 気が焦る To be impatient For the mind to be in a hurry
 気が荒い To be quarrelsome For the mind to be violent
 気が進む To feel like doing something For the mind to advance
 気が軽い To be sociable For the mind to be light
 気がそれる To be distracted For the mind to divert
 気が多い To be fickle To have many minds
 気が大きい To be generous To have a big mind
 気が腐る To feel dispirited For one’s mind to rot
 気に留める To keep in mind To keep in the mind
 気前がいい To be generous To have good generosity
 気が急く To be in a hurry/feel under pressure For the mind to be hurried
 気は心 It’s the thought that counts The mind’s the heart
 気が重い To feel depressed For the mind to be heavy
 気が散る To be distracted For the mind to be scattered
 気が乗らない To not be in the mood For the mind to not be riding
 気を引く To attract someone’s affection To draw in minds
 気をもむ To fret To worry the mind

     Despite that idiomatic phrases are typically stand-alone phrases that can be and are understood in isolation, it is helpful to see context with these phrases. Do not be confused with syntax as nothing out of the ordinary was shown. If you must, get familiar with the literal definitions to think of the phrases. 

1. 彼は僕と気の合う友人です。
  He is a congenial friend to me.

2. あいつに従うはない。
    I have no intentions to obey him. 

3. 気を悪くしないで。
    No hard feelings. 

4. あの子に気があるの?(Casual)
    Do you have a fancy for her?

5a. もし俺の言うことを聞く気があんなら助けてやろう。(Really casual)
5b. もし俺の言う通りにするなら助けてやろう。
      If he intends to listen what I’m going to say, I’ll help him.

6. 今度の{催し・イベント}のこと(を)考えると気が重くなっちゃうの。(A little feminine)   
    Whenever I think of the coming event, I get depressed.

7. {気が狂いそうな・頭がおかしい}やつじゃん。(Casual)
    Isn’t he a crazy guy?

8. 遊ぶ気がしない子供は存在するはずがない。(Somewhat old-fashioned)
    There shouldn’t exist children that don’t feel like playing.

9. 鈴木さんは気前のよい寄贈者でいらっしゃいます。(Honorific)
    Mr. Suzuki is a generous contributor.

10. 気は心。
      It’s the thought that counts. 

11. 彼はいつも自分の思い通りじゃないと気がすまない嫌いがある。
      He has the tendency to always want his way.

12. コンピューターがついてると気が散ってちっとも勉強できないんだ。(Casual)
      I can’t study at all when the computer is on.