Deru Kui wa Utareru

[Japanese Idioms by Flashcards]


The stake that sticks up will be pounded down.

(Excellence is shot down by mediocrity; doing better than others evokes jealousy; difference is forced into conformity.)

Commentary offered in explanation for why a gifted individual who may be head and shoulders above the norm is brought down to size by the members of his or her group. Quite literally, the stake that sticks out above the other stakes in a row is brought into line by being pounded down.

Sample text:
(Style: spoken/casual/male)

A: Takahashi wa atarashii kaisha ni uttsuta kedo umaku ikanai rashii na.
B: Aitsu, atama ga yosugiru n da. “Deru kui wa utareru” tte yuu daro. Sore ga tamaranai n janai ka, aitsu no koto da kara.

A: 高橋は新しい会社に移ったけどうまくいかないらしいな。
B: あいつ、頭が良すぎるんだ。『出る杭は打たれる』って言うだろう。それがたまらないんじゃないか、あいつのことだから。

A: You know Takahashi, he moved to a new company, but he isn’t getting along too well, I hear.
B: He’s too brilliant. “Excellence is shot down by mediocrity,” you know. He probably can’t stand it, knowing him.

Japanese Idioms


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