Cuttings: 身から出た錆 - Rust From the Body 身から出た錆 - Rust From the Body | Cuttings

Things of interest.

August 28, 2010

身から出た錆 - Rust From the Body

Of rusty swords and personal fault.




Meaning / Translation

  • Literal translation: “The rust that comes from the body”
  • Idiomatic translation: “Rust from the body / As you sow, so shall you reap.”
  • Reading: みからでたさび (Mi kara deta sabi)

From 語源由来辞典:


‘Mi’ (身) refers to the part of the sword sheathed within the scabbard (the sword blade).

When a man neglects his katana and fails in its upkeep, the sword will rust, which renders it useless. In dire times where the sword is most required, the man will thus lose his life (because of his own negligence and unpreparedness).

The proverb likens the sword’s body to one’s own, and this is how the proverb came to mean ‘one’s despairing over something that was his own fault to begin with’.

The proverb can also be extended to include nuances of condolence for (unfortunate) situations where there is no hope for recovery, from the idea that rust envelops the sword blade whole (and not just its surface).


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