Monday, August 18, 2008


Every time I see signs for Sierra Mist, I laugh. It is because "mist" in German slang means "[something] with terrible quality".

This person probably think his/er tattooed means "lotus", but that depends how it is read.

In Japanese, it means "burden".


  1. Literally, the german word "Mist" means "manure". You're right about the slang usage.

    I don't think we will ever see "Sierra Mist" in my country. :-)

  2. haha, in fact, Hehua, the Chinese version of 'Lotus' also has the meaning 'Burden'- Lotus has vigorous long stem to support its large bud and leaf.

  3. In all fairness, I think we have to acknowledge that, compared with many others documented on this invaluable blog, this particular tattoo is relatively benign. Like many words in Chinese, it has other potential meanings, but I think most people would assume that "lotus" is what the tattooed person had in mind. And the calligraphy looks respectable to me, not at all mangled. - Ben Read

  4. To wenwen: Japanese word 荷物 means luggage. It's only natural that the word is derived from the classical chinese meaning of the word. :)

  5. Yes, of course, there isn't anything really wrong with this tattoo, but it is confusing because it is a single character with no context. A Japanese speaker would not necessarily know the 'lotus' meaning, and would probably only know the 'luggage' meaning.

    So the person with the tattoo gets different stories as to its meaning depending on who he talks to.

    By the way, there is a saying in Japanese that goes 肩の荷が下りた [kata no ni ga orita]. It means to "take a load off" or lessen your troubles.

    But literally it could mean a 荷 tattoed on the guy's shoulder that has slid down, maybe all the way to his ankle. :)


  6. "Mist" is not a slang word; its usage to designate something of no value is merely colloquial, not slang. (But I suppose people in this forum don't think that Western languages could also be subtle...)

  7. To Anonymous (speaking of Mist), I really do think you're just being pedantic here and come off as a bit bitter. He said it means something of bad quality in German slang, not that it is an exclusively slang word. All languages have their nuances and they're often lost across languages, whether it's seen in Engrish or bad tattoos--no one is trying to claim otherwise.