TOPWeekly Japanese Idiom: “Kanzenmuketsu” — Flawless

Weekly Japanese Idiom: “Kanzenmuketsu” — Flawless

This week’s yojijukugo is absolute perfection

By Lisa Wallin

Robert Schuller once said that it’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly. But what if you are a perfect specimen of the human race who can do no wrong? In that cause, you may be kanzenmuketsu.

Kanzenmuketsu (完全無欠)

Meaning: Perfect, without flaw, absolutely, everlasting, complete, immaculate

Literal translation and kanji breakdown: As is often the case, it’s easier to digest by splitting the idiom into two parts: 完全 (kanzen; perfect, complete) pieces together characters meaning perfect and whole, while 無欠 (muketsu; flawlessness) literally reads “no” and “flaw”. The fact that both compounds in essence mean the same thing serves to strengthen the original meaning of complete perfection.

Kanzenmuketsu: The Origins

There is no conclusive evidence on where kanzenmuketsu originally appeared but one of the earliest recordings of it in the 1878 novel Sonnin Setsu by Emori Ueki (who, for what it’s worth, was a bit of a hottie in his youth).

Kanzenmuketsu: Fun Facts

While you may not use kanzenmuketsu much in daily conversation, it’s an expression that crops up frequently in manga, anime, songs and even sports commentating. Some examples include:

“Kanzenmuketsu” by Razor:

“Kanzenmuketsu Zettaiteki Ruler” by Reign:

“Kanzenmuteki no Elegy” by Gumi:

“Kanzenmuteki no Salarymen” by Newdl Kabushikigaisha:

There’s even an otome video game titled Kenka Bancho Otome:Kanzenmuketsu My Honey:

Kanzenmuketsu: Related Expressions

全知全能 Zenchi-zennou Omniscience and omnipotence

十全十美 Juzen-jubi Perfect in every way

金甌無欠 Kinou-muketsu Flawless, perfect; a nation that has never been invaded by foreign powers

円満具足 Enmangusoku Complete, tranquil and in harmony

Using “kanzenmuketsu” in a sentence

As mentioned, kanzenmuketsu isn’t going to appear in everyday conversation, but it can be used for emphasis, as in the first two examples below. 

完全無欠な人はいない。Kanzenmuketsuna hito wa inai. Nobody’s perfect.

完全無欠な理論Kanzenmuketsuna riron. Infallible logic.

「ワンパンマン」の強さは完全無欠だからずっといいライバルを探します。Wan Pan Man no tsuyosa wa kanzenmuketsu dakara zutto ii raibaru wo sagashiteimasu. One Punch Man is invincible, which is why he’s always searching for a worthy opponent. 

サッカー日本代表は一見完全無欠のように思えたが、試合を重ねるうちに次第に弱点を見えてきた。Sakka- nihon daihyo wa ikken kanzenmuketsu no you ni omoeta ga, shiai wo kasaneru uchi ni shidai ni jakuten wo miete kita. The Japanese national soccer team seemed to be flawless at first glance but as they played more games, their weaknesses gradually grew more apparent.


Want more? Follow our weekly Yojijukugo Japanese Idiom series, published every Friday. Learn the meaning of “yujufudan” here, “ikitougou” here and “jakuniku-kyoushoku” here.