Is there an English equivalent of the proverb 水清ければ魚棲まず (if the water is clear, fish won’t live there)?

The proverb’s meaning is that just as fish prefer muddy waters and avoid clear streams, people generally do not associate with those who are too ideal in terms of ethics, manners, and habits. In other words, being strictly honest and always making the right choice from the standpoint of society-imposed values will result in you … Read more

Is there an English word to describe when a sound “protrudes”?

I was going to go with “protrude” but I’m getting told it is not used in this sense and it wouldn’t be understood. It’s to describe the situation where the TV is on but you are doing something else and not paying attention, so the sound is like a white noise to you. Then there … Read more

Much kinder way of saying someone’s being dramatic?

Someone is in a panic and dramatically being sensitive, confrontational, maybe a bit attention seeking. What would one say to very concisely explain to them, to settle them, how it is they’re behaving? Something far less demeaning and unhelpful than dramatic! Answer I’d use – overreacting o·ver·re·act /ˌōvə(r)rēˈakt/ verb: gerund or present participle: overreacting respond … Read more

Including extra material as a means of distracting from primary material

I’m looking for a term that is essentially a diversionary tactic, and which I will explain by example. I have been told that some filmmakers deliberately add blatantly gratuitous material into what they submit to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA, the group responsible for censoring/rating movies). This is done so that MPAA reviewers … Read more

I have a problem but don’t know how to ask for help

There are lots of words that I could use here. Flummoxed, Stuck, Perplexed, Lost, etc. But is there a word or short phrase that actually means (or is a good fit for): a situation where in attempting to solve a problem, due to a lack of understanding, big-picture-clarity or knowledge-of-subject-specific-terminology, you aren’t yet able to … Read more

Word or common short phrase for an intentionally hasty initial proposal to group?

Is there a preferred word or common short phrase (or multiple) for a proposal made to a second party or group that is merely a first draft, intentionally hasty and likely poor quality, in order to spur discussion, and in the hope that the proposal would be improved collaboratively thereafter? Some candidates: stab – Often … Read more

When a limited but working version of something is better

There is a Persian proverb (“One habitable village is better than one hundred desolated towns“) which emphasizes that a limited and small-scale but working thing (e.g. a solution or an achievement) is much better than several ones that do not work or could not be leveraged. Is there any equivalent proverb/idiom for that in English? … Read more

What is the English equivalent of 干物女 (dried fish woman)?

Literally meaning dried fish woman, the popular slang 干物女 is used to call a woman in her twenties or older who, as nicely summarized in Wikipedia, has many of the following traits: メールの返事が極端に遅い、短い (Her text replies are very slow and short.) 簡単な食事なら台所で立って食べる (If it is something simple, she will eat it standing in her kitchen.) … Read more

Is there a word for a message that is intended to be intercepted by an adversary?

There is a kind of message in espionage that is meant to be intercepted by an adversary for the purpose of spreading false information: For instance, by sending a letter stating that troops are moving north when they’re really moving west. As an example, this tactic was used by the British during the American Revolutionary … Read more