Jan 10, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Soft'n'fluffy v. Cold'n'prickly


Mawata ni hari wo tsutsumu

Meaning of Japanese:
Like hiding a pin in floss silk

English equivalents:
A saint abroad and a devil at home
A wolf in sheep's clothing


At 1/11/2005 1:49 AM, Blogger Safety Neal said...

What exactly is floss silk?

At 1/11/2005 5:30 AM, Blogger eBohn said...

Got me, Safety. You're the one who's always producing unwieldy definitions from the OED, so I was hoping you'd know. wata is Japanese for cotton, so I would assume that mawata would be some type of cotton. And from the images I've googled out of the web, that appears to be the case. The Oxford (concise) that's taken up residence with us doesn't have a listing for floss silk, but floss(4) is "the silky down in maize and other other plants."

The idea anyway is that the outward appearance of soft harmlessness belies treachery within.

At 1/11/2005 11:54 PM, Blogger Safety Neal said...

Thanks again for the explanation. You're right, I should've checked the OED. It says:

Floss silk

a. The rough silk broken off in the winding of the cocoons. b. This rough silk carded like cotton or wool and used chiefly in the manufacture of common silk fabrics. c. Untwisted filaments of silk used in embroidery and crewel-work.

1759 PULLEIN in Phil. Trans. LI. 55 It was covered with some floss-silk. 1820 SCOTT Ivanhoe xiii, The flox-silk with which the billet was surrounded. a1846 LANDOR Imag. Conv. Wks. 1846 II. 53 The truckle bed of Valour and Freedom is not wadded with flosh-silk. 1863 OUIDA Held in Bondage (1870) 89 Will you be kind enough to hold this skein of floss silk for me? 1884 J. PAYNE Tales fr. Arabic I. 17 He found himself upon a couch, stuffed all with floss-silk.

attrib. 1847 ALB. SMITH Chr. Tadpole v. (1879) 50 A bright blue stock, worked with floss silk sunflowers.

Blogspot comments don't accept blockquotes. How odd...

At 1/13/2005 7:22 PM, Blogger eBohn said...

So it's actually silk after all, eh? Most of the references I found were for the floss silk tree, which, if memory serves me correctly, is indigenous to southern California.

Blogger comments don't allow a variety of tags and attributes. Blummer.


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