Kibisu wo Kaesu (踵を返す - Returning Back)

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Jul 23, 2019 08:28 English essay
Kibisu wo Kaesu

When I read a Japanese novel, I found that the idiom 'kibisu wo kaesu' (踵を返す) appears repeatedly.

踵 (meaning "heel") is usually read as 'kakato', however, it is read as 'kibisu' (which is an old reading) in this idiom.

In addition, 'kaesu' (返す) means "to return" or "to take back," so the literal meaning of 'kibisu wo kaesu' is "to return one's heel(s)."

Imagine that you return your heels to the direction in which you had come -- in other words, this idiom means "to go back" or "to return back."


"" を意味する「踵」は通常「かかと」と読みますが、この慣用句の中では「きびす」と読みます。

また、「返す」は "to return" や "to take back" を意味するので、「踵を返す」の文字どおりの意味は "to return one's heel(s)" となります。