What does 鴨が葱を背負って来る mean?


I checked the meaning of Farfetch'd on Bulbapedia and it says it is "カモネギ", likely to be inspired by "鴨が葱を背負って来る", meaning "something surprising, but convenient".

What does "surprising but convenient" mean? Is it like an idiom or phrase that is often used? Can some examples be given how it might be used in daily speeches in a situation or context?

For example, does it mean good or bad? Can it be: I didn't think it'd rain, but it suddenly did and made my car clean; it really is 鴨が葱を背負って来る.

I saw an example of 「あんな高額な商品を買ってくれた上に、家族や友達にまで勧めてくれるなんて、鴨が葱を背負ってくるとはこのことだ」, but I don't quite get what it means.

I also saw some website explains it as "Along comes a sucker just begging to be parted from his money".


Posted 2019-09-10T01:03:57.167

Reputation: 195



Basically it means "easy hunt/game/prey". I think "something surprising but convenient" is slightly wrong. So it can't be used like your example. Second example is correct, the phrase exists for.

We love 蕎麦(Japanese noodle), and duck(鴨) meat one is really popular since Edo period. We usually put 葱(Green leek?) in 蕎麦, so if we found a 鴨 carrying 葱 and could hunt it, we can get all ingredients for 鴨南蛮(duck meat Soba). It's how this phrase was born. I know it's impossible. haha.

Also, this phrase is basically used for bad meaning, sneering someone.


Posted 2019-09-10T01:03:57.167

Reputation: 176

in some country in Asia, there is a phrase, "deceived by somebody (for money) and help that person to count the money"... I think it sort of means the same thing – nonopolarity – 2019-09-10T02:39:22.050

I noticed Duck Noodle is 鴨南蛮. The word 蛮 looks like the simplified form of 蠻, which means "wild, reckless, or quite" in Chinese... the word in Chinese for Noodle is 麵, but they sound very similar, so it is a very interesting... maybe 蛮 and 麵 are both used? – nonopolarity – 2019-09-10T02:45:06.203

I assume the phrase is Japanese version of that. – ゆるキャン – 2019-09-10T02:46:54.067

@太極者無極而生 What's the original phrase? I feel what you described is different from the meaning of 鴨葱. 鴨葱 is used to describe a situation before someone is actually deceived/harmed. – naruto – 2019-09-10T02:50:35.127

鴨南蛮 can be separate 鴨 and 南蛮. And 南蛮 has many meanings, means 葱 in this case. The other cooking I can think of is カレー南蛮、チキン南蛮. カレー南蛮 has same meaning 南蛮, but チキン南蛮's 南蛮 means paticular vinegar taste and not 葱. – ゆるキャン – 2019-09-10T02:55:14.877

@naruto the original phrase is "被人賣了還替他數錢"... like a duck comes = a person appeared to be deceived for money. And bring the leek / green onion = help him count the money – nonopolarity – 2019-09-10T02:55:19.570

ok, I found in https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%8D%97%E8%9B%AE that 南蛮 can mean a leek or a dish made using leeks... so maybe leek or green onion came from the south from long time ago

– nonopolarity – 2019-09-10T03:07:12.250

@太極者無極而生 So are you saying the purpose of this "gull" is to count money even before he starts to be deceived? If this phrase means "A person is deceived, and then end up counting his own stolen money", then it's an example of irony, but it's not an example of 鴨葱. – naruto – 2019-09-10T04:40:03.270

@naruto maybe not thinking about before or after. That phrase could be: deceived by somebody and then help carry that cash to help him deposit in a bank. Maybe similar meaning: taken advantage of, and further give that person more convenience – nonopolarity – 2019-09-10T05:39:51.483


This idiom is understood by virtually all native speakers, but ordinary people rarely use it. They usually see this phrase used by villains in fictional works.

鴨 is a duck, and in Japanese it's also a metaphor for a person who is easily tricked, just like "gull" in English. There is a phrase ~を鴨にする (or ~をカモる for short), which means "to gull (someone)". 葱 is a type of vegetable often eaten with 鴨.

Now I think you can guess the implication of 鴨が葱を背負って来る ("a duck comes carrying a green onion"). It is a derogatory expression used to describe an unbelievably convenient situation where someone who the speaker is going to deceive or harm is innocently and actively doing something beneficial to the speaker. For example, an evil shogun seeking a magical weapon may say this when a hero comes to his palace to defeat him holding that very weapon.

Don't use this to praise someone or to describe a lucky situation in general.


Posted 2019-09-10T01:03:57.167

Reputation: 199 900

if it is just "カモネギ" "Leek Duck" or "Green Onion Duck", then at first I would assume it doesn't imply "鴨が葱を背負って来る". But then if duck actually means a gull... then I guess it kind of has this implication – nonopolarity – 2019-09-10T02:50:36.630

since you mentioned fictional work, I kind of recall a Chinese phrase used in movies for villains: 踏破鐵鞋無覓處,得來全不費工夫. That means, "I stepped my iron shoe and it was broken and it is nowhere to be found. And then it came (and then I got it) without any effort." – nonopolarity – 2019-09-10T04:12:19.597