詰む (tsumu) is a Japanese slang term that means “be stuck in a fix”. This word is often used as “詰んだ” (tsunda), the past form of “詰む” when you’ve found yourself in a hopeless situation. In particular, “人生詰んだ” (jinsei tsunda; my life is tsunda) is a common phrase meaning “got stuck in life”, or more simply, “f*ck my life”.
When you feel “詰んだ” (tsunda)
Here are some examples when you may feel “詰んだ”:
- you’ve lost your passport at an airport
- it has started raining and you’ve realised you forgot your umbrella
- you’ve realised you have a hard assignment due tomorrow
- you’ve left your laptop charger at school and can’t chill at home watching Netflix/YouTube, etc.
and so on.
As you can see, 詰む can describe either a serious or trivial situation. When you want to emphasise, you can say “マジ詰んだ” (maji tsunda), where マジ (maji) is a very common and casual intensifier similar to “really” or “literally” in English.
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Originally, “詰む” means being checkmated in Shogi, Japanese chess. For instance, “詰将棋“ (tsume shougi) is a Japanese-chess problem whose goal is to 詰める (tsumeru; checkmate) the opponent’s king.
The kanji “詰” generally means “be stuck” or “be clogged”, as in “トイレが詰まった” (toire ga tsumatta) meaning “The toilet is clogged”. This kanji also means “fill”, as in “ものを袋に詰める” (mono wo hukuroni tsumeru) meaning “fill a bag with things”, “距離を詰める” (kyori wo tsumeru) meaning “fill a distance ( = approach)”, and “議論を詰める” (giron wo tsumeru) meaning “thrash out a discussion”, that is “fill a gap between a goal and current situation.”
Tomorrow I have a flight to Okinawa but a typhoon is coming. I maji tsunda (have got in a terrible jam/pickle).
People who hate programming will definitely tsumu (be in a fix) if they enroll in the department of information science at university.
A lot of people tsumu (get stuck) in the game because they can’t beat the ラスボス (final boss).
ラスボス (rasu bosu) stands for “ラストボス” (rasuto bosu) literally meaning “the last boss”.
Synonyms: 終わった (over, finished, became hopeless)
Synonyms in English: get stuck in a jam, find oneself in a fix, get checkmated
Related words and phrases: 将棋 (Japanese chess), 詰将棋 (a Japanese-chess problem), 詰める (fill, cram)