An unexpected event or news
noun , な-adjective

みみみず means “a bolt out of the blue” and is a metaphor for an unexpected event or news.

みみみず literally means “water in a sleeping ear”, however, actually みみ (“ear”) here really stand for “hearing” and みず (“water”) is really referring to the “the sound of turbulent water”. In olden times, flood control was much worse than what we have now and sometimes people were surprised by floods at night while they slept - this is where the elements of “sleeping” and “water” come in. So we use みみみず when we are surprised by an unexpected event, news, or information, just like the flood would surprise villagers while they slept.

We do not use みみみず for a “good” unexpected event though. For example, if your friend told you that he/she is getting married and you said “みみみず”, it may sound like you were unhappy with his or her marriage plans. “Bad” unexpected events or news are more common for みみみず. If your friend told you that he/she was moving to a foreign country and you’ve never expected it, then みみみず might make a good fit!

みみみず has a negative connotation because it is used for a unexpected bad event or news. So, please be careful with which event or news you used it for! And みみみず is normally used as a noun, but some people may occasionally use it as an adjective like みみみずごと.

Example Sentences
  • すなんてみみみずだよ。さびしくなるなぁ。

    I never expected that you would move out! I will miss you….

  • さくしんみみみずごと だった。

    I never expected the earthquake that happened last night!