How do I express "beautiful yet disgusting" with Kanji?
May 9, 2009 2:58 PM   Subscribe

How do I express this idea in Kanji?

I am making something that I would like to decorate with Kanji character(s) meaning, basically "beautiful yet disgusting/distasteful." Kind of like a car wreck, something that is fascinating and aesthetically pleasing in one way, but horrible in a different way. Thanks!
posted by mai to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is a bit of a sideways answer, but you're sure to find lots of inspiration here.
posted by trunk muffins at 3:08 PM on May 9, 2009

I don't know how much sense this actually makes but what about something like "美错", which I would translate back as something like "beautifully wrong". But uh, I really have no idea.
posted by delmoi at 3:47 PM on May 9, 2009

Oh, Google translate gives "美丽令人厌恶" for beautifully disgusting.
posted by delmoi at 3:49 PM on May 9, 2009

The Chinese character 魅 (mèi) which appears in the common modern compound 魅力 (mèilì) = charm, attractiveness, magnetism originally referred to a kind of demon or woodland spirit, (e.g. 魑魅 chīmèi , malevolent forest demon, Kangxi says it had a human face but a beast's body). Extending from that, you could use 歪魅 (twisted charm/appeal) which a quick Google shows does occur occasionally, and you have the nice thing where (wāi 'crooked') is just a combination of the characters 不 = not and 正 = straight upright etc but more imprtantly, all that is good and proper.
Not much of disgust as a physical response there though.
posted by Abiezer at 4:00 PM on May 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

From my internet travels, it's possible the word you're looking for is "guro."
posted by rhizome at 5:05 PM on May 9, 2009

"Guro" is a borrowed word. (From English "grotesque".)

不味い mazui means "unappealing, distasteful, unpleasant, ugly". I suspect that's part of what you want.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:24 PM on May 9, 2009

You'll probably have more luck with "jukugo", four character compounds that express idioms and short aphorisms... I'm not sure if there are any two-word combinations that do what you want.

Here is a list of 3,400 different jukugo with their English meanings.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:47 PM on May 9, 2009 [5 favorites]

不細工可愛い or ブス可愛い mean cute in an ugly way, and キモ可愛い is cute in a disgusting way.
posted by Sar at 2:53 AM on May 10, 2009

美却恶心 would work, if you wanted something literal and short that's only in Kanji.
Specifically, 美=beautiful, 却=yet, 恶心=disgusting, abhorrent, distasteful, etc. Also, it's in Chinese, not Japanese, but both languages mostly share the same Kanji characters.
posted by swimmingly at 6:26 PM on May 10, 2009

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