May
28
2010

土壇場

どたんば [dotanba] – Means, “at the last moment” or “in a very dire situation.”

In the Edo period, criminals sentenced to death by decapitation were made to lie down on an earthen (土) platform (壇) to for their execution. The modern meaning is derived from this image, but fortunately it hasn’t retained the grotesque overtones.

土壇場で逆転勝利を収める
to capture a come-from-behind victory at the very end

ドタキャン [dotakyan], a popular expression based on this word is a shortening of the phrase 土壇場でキャンセル, “to cancel (plans to meet someone) at the last minute.”

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Posted under Vocabulary Bank by Nihonshock.

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