Word of the Week: 猿も木から落ちる

It’s time for Word of the Week again! Last week we looked at a Japanese word or phrase beginning with ‘ko’ (こ), and focussed on the phrase 恋の予感 (こいのよかん) (koi no yokan), which is similar to ‘love at first sight’. This week I’m looking for a word or phrase beginning with ‘sa’ (さ). A big thank you to those who joined in with suggestions this week:

Japan Australia suggested ‘samui’ (寒い), ‘cold’; ‘sayonara’ (さようなら), ‘goodbye’; and ‘sanzan’ (散々 / さんざん), ‘severely’, ‘harshly’, ‘utterly’, ‘terrible’; zoomingjapan suggested ‘sasuga’ (さすが), ‘as one would expect’; and ‘sappari’ (さっぱり), ‘feeling refreshed’ or ‘feeling relieved’; and locksleyu also suggested ‘sanzan’.

Everyone’s ideas were great, but this week I have decided to write about something different…

猿も木から落ちる (さるもきからおちる)

(saru mo ki kara ochiru)

猿も木から落ちる (saru mo ki kara ochiru) is one of my favourite proverbs (or ‘kotowaza‘ (諺 / ことわざ), and I’m sure a lot of you have heard this one before. This idiomatic phrase (慣用句 / kanyoku) is literally translated as ‘even monkeys fall from trees’. Of course, the meaning of this is ‘anyone can make a mistake’. The phrase is often used in response to someone who is being overly confident or arrogant, reminding them than ‘pride comes before a fall’.

Let me just break the phrase down:

猿 (saru / monkey) も (mo / also) 木 (ki / tree) から (kara / from) 落ちる (ochiru / to fall)

As you can see, it’s quite a simple phrase, and the construction is not too complicated. Only three kanji are used, and I’m sure even most beginner-level Japanese learners will know at least one of them: 木 (ki / tree).

Even monkeys fall from trees

(Image source)

Sorry for the slightly short post this week, but time seems to be moving at a much faster pace than I would like right now so I thought it better to post briefly than not at all! 😉


Next week’s post will be about a word or phrase beginning with ‘shi’ (し), so please leave your suggestions below. The word can be a verb, adjective or expression, but no nouns please! For example, ‘shizuka’ (しずか) meaning ‘quiet’ would be acceptable, but ‘Shizuoka’ (静岡), the city and prefecture, would not. I look forward to reading your ideas! (*^_^)v

Word of the Week 2014

4 thoughts on “Word of the Week: 猿も木から落ちる

  1. A great Japanese proverb there! A few suggestions for next week are:

    Shitsurei shimasu (失礼します) Excuse me, but used in many different situations
    Shinsetsu na (親切な) Kind or Nice
    Shinsen na (新鮮な) Fresh
    Shikatanai (仕方ない) That’s life! That’s the way it goes, etc


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