Do you know the Japanese four-character idiom: 一石二鳥? The meaning and the origin of the idiom.


In daily life in Japan, we often use Yojijukugo(four-character idiom), proverbs and various idioms.

Each has a different meaning that comes from Japanese culture and history.

Do you know some of them?


Today, I’m introducing the Japanese yojijukugo, four-character idiom: 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho).

It’s very popular yojijukugo, so some of you may already know what it means and how it is used in conversation.

Firstly I’m telling you the meaning of the four-character idiom, and then focusing on how you use it with some examples.


I’m sure you will feel like using the yojijukugo in conversation!




1. The meaning and the origin of the four-character idiom: 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho)



The four characters literally means that a man kills two birds with one stone.

一石(isseki) is a stone, and 二鳥(nicho) is two birds.

As a four-character idiom, 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho) means that one achieves two things in an action.


The origin of the Japanese four-character idiom is, as you can easily imagine, a man threw a stone and it hit two birds, which fell from the sky.


The man did not intend to hit the stone to a bird, but luckily he got two birds.

In the past, the yojijukugo was only used when someone wanted to tell others that he had a good luck without intention as a result of his action, but today it’s used in the both meanings; someone accidentaly had a good luck , and some one intend to have a good luck.



2. How to use 一石(isseki-nicho), and the examples



Now you know what the four-character idiom 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho) means.

Then, I’m focusing on the usage of the yojijukugo, 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho).


Here are some examples of how to use the four-character idiom.


* 好きでやっていた事がお金になるなんて、一石二鳥だ。

( It is 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho) that I can gain a profit from what I like to do.)


* 要らないものを新しいうちに売ると高値で売れるし、場所も空いて一石二鳥だね。

( When I sell things that are new but I don’t need, they can sell at a high price and I can have more space in my room. It’s 一石二鳥!)


* 部屋を加湿すると、インフルエンザ予防にもなり、喉を潤す効果もあるので、一石二鳥である。

( Humidifying a room is 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho), and it gives you the effects to prevent from having ful and to moisturise your throat.)




3. The synonyms and antonyms of the four-character idiom 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho)



There are several synonyms of the yojijukugo, 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho).


Some famous synonyms are;

一挙両得 (ikkyo-ryotoku)

一箭双雕 (issen-soucho)

一発双貫 (ippatsu-soukan)


The antonyms of the yojijukugo 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho) are;

虻蜂を取らず (abu-hachi-wo-torazu)

二兎を追う者は一兎をも得ず (nito-wo-oumono-wa-itto-womo-ezu)


Many of the synonyms of 一石二鳥(isseki-nicho) are four-character idioms, and antonyms of the yojijukugo are proverbs.




How was it?

Using Japanese traditional proverbs and four-character idiom enriches your conversations in Japanese, and you may feel interested when you find the deep meaning hidden in the widely-known proverbs and idioms.


I hope you enjoy using 一石二鳥 in daily conversation!