The Japanese idiom "be on dog-monkey terms" means "be on very bad terms".

Is there an English idiom equivalent to this Japanese idiom?

Mary: Look! Brian and Kevin are quarreling about a petty thing again.

Susan: They are on dog-monkey terms.

[Edit] The Japanese idiom in itself does not imply "regular quarrel" or "big difference in personality". For example,

(1) They are on dog-monkey terms, never speaking or making eye contact.

(2) Judy and Lisa were on very good terms, but now they are on dog-monkey terms.

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    There's no shortage of terms. Can you be more specific (how formal, how polite, how insulting, how cute, and whether it must involve animals.)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 22 at 9:54
  • Another possibility here in the UK at least is "They aren't getting on" - which means something like "they don't have a good relationship".
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jan 22 at 9:59
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    Well, maybe "They really aren't getting on" or if it's more permanent "They really don't get on".
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jan 22 at 10:22
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    Stronger (informal) : They hate each other's guts. To hate someone's guts = to utterly despise someone. Also "They never see eye to eye" - they can never agree.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jan 22 at 10:30

2 Answers 2


Some English expressions come to mind, but they may not exactly match your Japanese saying like for like.

  • They fight like cat and dog (means they constantly fight)
  • They are like chalk and cheese (means they are very different people and do not naturally get along)
  • They have a love-hate relationship (means they make a volatile relationship which may flit between love and hate)
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    I think it's cats and dogs. Commented Jan 22 at 3:51
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    to me "like cat and dog" sounds unnatural. I'm not going to be too definite about this but I would instinctively go with "cats and dogs". Maybe it just flows better. Commented Jan 22 at 9:17
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    @timchessish In Cambridge Dictionary, "fight like cat and dog" is labeled "UK". dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/…
    – Kaguyahime
    Commented Jan 22 at 9:54
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    @Kaguyahime I'm from the UK, it really doesn't matter, fight like cat and dog, or cats and dogs. Both are acceptable.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jan 22 at 10:42
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    @Kaguyahime If you look at the link Mari-Lou posted, the plural form is chiefly US. The same dictionary lists the singular use as British. You're right, we'd understand either, but the singular is certainly the idiom I'm used to.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jan 22 at 13:28

"They are on dog-monkey terms." seems to mean the same as "They can't stand each other." which is less extreme than "They hate each others guts."

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