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Interesting Words: 朝飯前 |
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Interesting Words: 朝飯前

January 3rd, 2008 · 9 Comments

Pre-post note: I’m trying something different in this post: hover your mouse over any non-basic kanji to get its reading. (I got this idea from Tae Kim’s weblog, which I discovered a couple of days ago and highly recommend.) This is one possible alternative to putting ふりがな in parentheses. Which do you like better, and why? And what browser are you using? Let me know in the comments, will you?

Today’s interesting word is 朝飯前.

朝飯前 is perhaps a little overdue for introduction on this site, since it’s the inspiration for the web domain itself! Literally, it means "before breakfast," but usage-wise, it means something more like (to use another food analogy) "a piece of cake." A cinch, if you will.

大辞泉 defines 朝飯前 as follows:



大辞林 says:

[1] 朝飯を食べる前。

[2] 朝飯を食べる前の一仕事仕上げられることからきわめて簡単なこと。非常に容易なこと。   For both dictionaries, that second definition is what we’re looking at. "Something so simple that it can be accomplished in the small amount of time before you eat breakfast." A damn good metaphor, don’t you think?

Here’s a little further elaboration, from one of my favorite sites that I have yet to mention, the online 語源由来辞典 (Word Origin Dictionary):


Make sure you read all of that word origin. A lot of intermediate learners have the tendency to skip over blocks of text, just because the appearance of "a lot of text" looks daunting. Set forth into the uncharted unknown and come back a hero!

Now, some 朝飯前 example sentences:

"Kanji? Ha! Piece of cake!"

"Did you already do your homework?" "Yeah, it was a cinch!"

Even though Kiyoshi said numerous times how easy it would be to wake up without an alarm clock, he overslept, as predicted.

So, you see that text up at the top of this page?


That’s the Before Breakfast motto! :) I hope to make 日本語 an 朝飯前 for you, little by little!

Tags: vocabulary

Study Japanese with help from J-List!
Study Japanese with help from J-List!

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sonja Cameron // Jan 3, 2008 at 9:13 am

    The kanji pop-up thing doesn’t work for me, but I still prefer it. I’m on Firefox and I can toggle Perapera-kun if I want; not having the furigana means I can’t cheat so easily!

  • 2 CloseFriend // Jan 3, 2008 at 9:14 am

    I’d been wondering in the back of my head where “Before Breakfast” came from.

    I like your adaptation of Tae Kim’s system. The parenthetics were kind of pulling me out of the reading. In a perfect world, Japanese unicode would include furigana, but I like this system because it helps me retain the symbols in my head as I read. That’s something every Japanese student should work on anyway.

  • 3 vegaltasendai // Jan 3, 2008 at 9:43 am

    I like being able to mouse over the Kanji, because that way I first guess at the reading, and then mouse over to see if I’m right.

    Keep up the good work!


  • 4 Rana // Jan 3, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    ^_^ The mouse over furigana are kinda neat and work just fine for me in Firefox (though I personally don’t need them because I just toggle the Rikaichan plugin when I’m not sure of a reading ^_^).

    I particularly like not having the furigana visible at first glance, since I find it easier to remember readings when I have to guess first. ^_^

    Also, that word origin dictionary looks really interesting!

  • 5 Celeste // Jan 3, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    I like the pop up pronunciations and think it would be great if you continued to use them. I’ve only seen furigana used once on a web page and it looked very messy.

    Thank you for another great lesson!

  • 6 Katie G // Jan 3, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I like the roll-over furigana as it seems to keep the page overall less cluttered to the eye.
    I use internet explorer.

  • 7 Tae Kim // Jan 3, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    It helps to have visual feedback on where the readings here. Try this:

    span.popup:hover {
    color: rgb(159,20,26);

    For me, it was too time consuming to add the readings so I just recommend rikai-chan. But it’s definitly better than ruby tags.

  • 8 Nat // Jan 3, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for all of your comments, guys. I think that Rikai-chan is a great utility, and it would certainly save me time, but my problem with it is that it encourages overreliance on its features. It’s too easy to just mouse-hover over every single word, and thus not learn or remember anything! Plus, it occasionally misses readings for uncommon words or names, which would be hard to correct under the Rikai-chan system.

    For now, I’m going to take one for the team (it makes the average post take about 5 minutes longer to write) and use span tags to do the mouse-hover, like I did in this post. And thanks for the advice, Tae- I’ll play with that CSS.

  • 9 matt // Jan 3, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    just caught up. loving this blog so far. thank you! as for the furigana question. i much prefer the tae kim style. kana in parens next to the word is too cluttered and distracting, and doesn’t reinforce memorization like mouse hovering does.