Japanese Expression: How to use the Phrase "Muri Shinai De"


What does “Muri Shinai De” Mean?
When can I use it?
In Daily Contexts…

What does “Muri Shinai De” Mean?

Japanese people have at heart to care for others. In Japan, you often hear the expression “muri shinai de”. Broadly speaking, the phrase means “don’t overdo it” or “take it easy”. The expression shows that you care about the well-being and health of someone.


Originally, the verb「無理むりする」means  “to overdo” and “to take things too far”. The very particular nuance would be “even though you know something is impossible, you still try to do it”. The Japanese meaning is positive, you are challenging yourself. However,  the translations”overdoing it”, “taking things too far”, “push too far” are not expressed well this positive feeling.

When can I use it?

The best way to understand “muri suru” is simply to remember its negative form “muri shinai de”: “don’t overdo”. So when exactly would you use the expression “muri shinai de”?

At work:

  • If a task might be impossible to accomplish and you are working hard on it.
  • If you have a cold, but keep working hard.
  • When you are very busy and still trying to arrange a meeting.

Recently, you are working more than 12 hours everyday. Don’t overdo it!

Your work is important but don’t over do it too much.

Talking about studies:

I know you are doing your best to study, but don’t overdo it.

When someone offers to help or to do something for you, the expression “muri shinai de” is a way to say “don’t put yourself out”, “don’t overdo it”.


A: Once my work is finished, I will send you a mail.
B: Don’t push yourself!

In Daily Contexts…

You can also hear the expression in a public place such as train stations. The staff will say “please don’t overdo it by running for the train” when everyone is rushing across the platform to board.

“Muri shinai de” can be translated in many ways according to the context. For example, as someone is doing sport, “muri shinai de” would be “don’t wear yourself out”.

Don’t overexert yourself when exercising!

If someone seems very anxious, you will advise “muri shinai de” to signify that she should let go and relax. Sometimes, the expression is also an equivalent to “get some rest”. Do your best to study Japanese but… don’t over do it! 無理しないでね!

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