Have you started learning a new language during the COVID-19 lockdown and quit already? Then, you’re absolutely a 三日坊主.
三日坊主 (みっかぼうず, mikka.bouzu) is a common Japanese idiom that literally means ‘three-day monk’. It figuratively indicates the act of stopping the ‘habit’ that you established a couple of days ago. Originally, this word illustrates a person who aims to become 坊主 (bouzu, ‘a monk’) but gives in to the ascetic practices within three days. Although the idiom refers to a ‘three-day’ act, you can describe any type of act that you keep doing for an awfully short period of time.
三日坊主 is used to describe a lazy person, as in ‘彼はいつも三日坊主だ’ meaning ‘He is always a 三日坊主’. Not only to ridicule others, it is also used in a self-deprecating way, as in ‘三日坊主なのをやめたい’ meaning ‘I wanna stop being 三日坊主’, or ‘英語の勉強を始めたけど、三日坊主だった’ meaning ‘I started studying English but I was 三日坊主’.
Examples of 三日坊主
People usually end up being 三日坊主 when they start something that is easy to start but hard to continue, such as:
- Going to a gym
- Waking up early in the morning
- Learning a new language
- Going on a diet
- Quitting smoking/drinking
Another Usage of 坊主
Since 坊主 (ぼうず, bouzu) in Japan shave their heads, it also refers to a buzz cut, as in 坊主頭 meaning ‘bouzu (shaved) head’. Also, some fashion magazines often refer to very short hairstyles as ‘オシャレ坊主’ meaning ‘fashionable bouzu hairstyle’, but this term annoys people with a bona fide shaved hair.
Figuratively, 坊主 is also used to when you fish and don’t catch anything, as in ‘今日は坊主だった’ meaning ‘Today, I was bouzu (catching no fish)’. Among old people, 坊主 is also used when they talk to a kid in a somewhat condescending manner, as in ‘おい坊主, ここで何してる’ meaning ‘Hey bouzu (kid), what are you doing here?’ . This is because many kids in Japan used to shave their heads many years ago.
I started running in the early morning, so I’ll try hard not to be ‘three-day monk’
Even if I start something new, it ends up in being ‘three-day monk’ (the act that is stopped soon)
synonyms: 飽きっぽい, 飽き性 (be easily bored)
synonyms in English: get easily bored, quitter, procrastinator
Related Words: 三日 (みっか) three days, 坊主 (ぼうず) monk, skinhead hairstyle