Native Suffixes IV

第362課: Native Verbal Affixes 大和言葉における動詞化接尾辞

This lesson examines 16 verbal affixes which all relate to describing appearance, demeanor, or behavior. Although the productivity of these affixes are not equal, many of the words formed from there are quintessential to the Japanese lexicon, whereas others are dying remnants of a once more morphologically diverse past.


Deriving from the standalone verb かかる, the five-grade conjugating verbal affix ~がかる attaches to nouns for one of two meanings.

①To resemble/-looking

②To be tinged with (color)

As can be gleamed from the definitions, the latter is used with typical nouns in the same way “-looking” is used in English. However, unlike the English equivalent, ~がかる is not entirely productive. Rather, you will have to unfortunately learn which phrases are made with it on a case-by-case basis. However, as for the second meaning, it can be used with any color. 

Grammatically, phrases made with either meaning are limited in their conjugational capacity. In the predicate, it must be used in the progressive tense, and when used as an attribute, it must obligatorily be used with the auxiliary ~た.

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
神がかる  To be possessed by the supernatural 芝居がかる To be theatrical
 時代がかるTo be antique-looking 詩がかる  To be poetic
黄(色)がかる To be yellow-tinged 緑(色)がかる To be green-tinged
 赤(み)がかる To be red-tinged 黒(み)がかる To be tinged with black

1. 古代の中国では、亀の甲羅を割って、神がかった人に占ってもらう儀式があった。
In ancient China, there were ceremonies in which (people) would break open turtle shells and have their fortunes told by a god-like figure. 

2. 意図的なのか、それとも芝居がかっているからそうみえるのか。
Whether it’s intentional or theatrical, is that why it appears so? 

3. 少し詩がかった野蛮人になると、アキリスがヘクトーの死骸を引きずって、トロイの城壁を三匝(さんそう)したとか、燕人張飛が長坂橋に丈八の蛇矛を横たえて、曹操の軍百万人を睨め返したとか大袈裟な事ばかり連想する。
When it comes to somewhat poetic barbarians, one associates really grandiose events such as how Achilles dragged Hector’s corpse and circled the walls of Troy thrice, or how Chang Fei laid down his serpent-shaped lance at Changban and looked back at Cao Cao’s force of a million men, and what not. 

4. 蛍光増白剤自体は黄(色)がかった色をしているが、紫外線によって青がかった光を放射する。
Fluorescent whitening agent itself is yellow-tinged in color, but it emits blue-tinged light due to ultraviolet rays.

Orthography Note: This ending may occasionally be spelled with the Ateji ~掛かる, but this is seldom the case in modern writing.


~ぐむ is a five-grade verbal affix which attaches to a handful of nouns to mark the start of a phenomenon. In the non-past tense, it captures the moment immediately before the start of the phenomenon, but when it is used in the progressive tense, it is describing the now ongoing phenomenon. 

Being synonymous with ~始める and ~出す, one would think it would be used more widely, but it is, in fact, limited to set phrases which must be learned individually. However, it is thought to have originally been a transitive verb meaning “to include” which then fused with direct objects to then describe when something became apparent to the outside. So, the nouns it is seen used with today would be the ones it fused to at that time. 

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
 涙ぐむ  To bring to tears 芽ぐむ To bud
  角ぐむ  To sprout (like thorns) 汗ぐむ (archaic) To begin to sweat
 皺ぐむ  To start to wrinkle 水ぐむ (archaic) To contain too much water

Word Notes
① 芽吹く is the generic word for trees/plants to “sprout” shoots. 芽ぐむ implies that the “sprouting” is just beginning. 角ぐむ is synonymous with 芽ぐむ, but it is more literary and has the sprouts akin to horns growing. When used, it is usually in reference to things like reeds and 芒(ススキ) (Japanese pampas grass).

②汗ぐむ has since been replaced by phrases such as 汗ばむ (see below) and 汗が滲む.


The willows and all the trees (began to) sprout as the snow piles melted.

6. 氷解け去り葦は角ぐむ
Ice melts as the reeds begin to sprout forth.

7. 嘲笑われて涙ぐんだ
I was brought to tears from being scorned at.

8. 犬の目が涙ぐんでいる場合は、流涙症という病気にかかっている可能性がある。
In the event a dog’s eyes are teared up, there is the possibility it is suffering from a condition called epiphora.

9. 瓜を取り出でたりけるが、わろくなりて水ぐみたりければ
(I) had brought out the gourds, but since they had gone bad and had too much moisture (become too ripe)… 


~さびる is a first-grade conjugating verbal affix whose Classical Japanese form was a upper two-grade conjugating affix in the form of ~さぶ. Either way, this ending attaches to nouns to describe behavior attributed to said noun. 

In Modern Japanese, it is incredibly rare and is usually restricted to the noun 神 (god/deity). Even in Classical Japanese, it was only most prominent in Old Japanese, afterward becoming limited to three extant examples that may still be found in literature.

使用例 意味
神(かみ・かん)さびる ① To behave divinely②To have a divine presence③Antiquated
   翁さびる     To behave like an old man
   秋さびる   To become autumn-like

Word Notes:
①In Old Japanese, 神さぶ is thought to have actually been pronounced as かむさぶ.

②Being homophonous to them, it would appear that ~さびる shares the same origin as the verbs 寂びる (to become antiquated) and 錆びる (to rust). The latter is thought to stem from the former, but as the former refers to something aging and taking on a particular characteristic, that would semantically be in line with how the only words ~さびる is used with are ones which involve antiquity or an extensive period of time. 

I am greatly humbled to speak openly of this:
back when Empress Jinguu had gone to Silla and subjugated it, 
she preciously held two stones resembling brilliant orbs to calm her mind,
which she then showed to the world and asked that they be passed down generations,
after which she herself placed it near the village of Fukae along the shore plain of Kou.
Ever since, they are still priceless stones are so sublime and filled with divine power. 

11. いや、翁さびた事を言う。
Ugh, what an old man thing to say. 


12. 夕日さす外山の梢秋さびて麓の小田も色づきにけり
The top of the foliage of Toyama lit by the setting sun resembles autumn as Oda at the foot of the mountain has also changed colored. 

『風雅和歌集・ 藤原公蔭作』


The upper first-grade conjugating verb 染(し)みる means “to soak in/stain.” You may also see the spelling 沁みる when it is used in the emotional sense of “to make a deep impression.” Other spellings for the literal sense of “to soak/penetrate/stain/permeate” include 浸みる, 滲みる, and 泌みる, but these are all exceptionally rare as only 染みる is treated as a standardized spelling.

13. 背中を流しているつもりだが、石鹸が目に染みて、前が見えない。
Though I’d intended for it to go down my back, soap got in my eyes, and I can’t see in front of me.

In addition to being a standalone verb, it also gained the function of being a compound ending in which it is used as a verbal affix in the form ~じみる that attaches to nominal phrases to either describe how something has stained something or to describe that something feels like it’s taken on a certain condition/state. In either situation, it is mostly used with a negative connotation. 

When used before nouns, it is used in the form ~じみた, but when used as the predicate, it is obligatorily seen in the progressive tense as ~じみている. It is also possible to see it used in the gerund combined with verbs like “to appear,” giving ~じみて見える. However, it is seldom used beyond a few more forms such as the negative ~じみていない (see Ex. 10). 

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
世帯じみる  To be fond of home 年寄りじみる  To sound old
油じみる To be oil-stained 子供じみる To act child-like
 狂気じみる To be crazed 言い訳じみる  Excuse-like

Word Notes:

①世帯 is officially read as せたい, although in everyday language, it is usually read as しょたい. This is because the word is thought to have originated from 所帯. Thus, in everyday writing, 世帯 and 所帯 are seen interchangeably.
②~じみる is become less common. For instance, 言い訳じみる has become mostly replaced with the synonymous phrase 言い訳がましい, but some phrases like 世帯じみる and 子供じみる still remain common, at least in the written language. When referring to stains from liquid-like substances, ~まみれ(の) is the most common affix. 

14. 最近では、「所帯じみた妻」は嫌われるようになり、「所帯じみていない妻」が増えているらしい。

Nowadays, it seems that “domestic wives” are becoming dislikes and that “wives who aren’t so stuck in the home” are on the rise. 

15. 油じみた男が手を振った。
An old-stained man waved his hand. 

16. 子供じみた真似をするな。
Don’t act childish.

17. 彼の顔は何となく標本じみて見えた。
His face for some reason or another appeared exemplary. 

18. 若い癖に言うことは年寄りじみてるな。
(You/that person) sure sounds like an old man/woman despite being so young.

19. 二階が診察室に待合室、下は技工室のあの金槌や、金をのばすローラーや、ガラスの炎や、エンジンなんかの、神経質な工場じみた音に加えて、小さい子供が四人もあり、おまけに電車通りだった。
To the second floor there was an examination room and a waiting room, and below, in addition to the iron hammer, metal roller, glass fire, engine, and what not neurotic factory-like noises, there were four small kids, and to make matters worse, it was a street with a tram.  

Orthography Note: Although it is not incorrect to spell it in Kanji, the Kana spelling ~じみる is the predominant spelling in today’s writing.


The affix ~だつ follows either nominals or the stem of adjectives/adjectival nouns to create a four-grade conjugating verb, and its purpose is to note some characteristic. Although it is similar in meaning to ~のようだ, it is still verbal in nature. After all, it does come from the verb 立つ’s nuance of “to manifest.”

This ending was far more productive throughout Old and Middle Japanese, but its use today can still be seen in a handful of phrases. Below, the vocabulary chart is split into two columns, one with examples still prevalent in Modern Japanese and the other with some of the most common examples in Classical Japanese.

使用例(現代語) 意味 使用例(古語) 意味
殺気立つTo be frenzied/murderous 大人立つ To act adult-like
 浮足立つ  To be in a fidget/prepared to flee忠実(まめ)立つ To act serious
 主(おも)立つTo be main/prominent 情け立つ①To act like one is full of affection②To act refined
 気色立つ ①To show signs of②To become animated③To show one’s feelings④To put on airs聖(ひじり)立つ  To look like a monk/saint
 際立つ To be prominent 紫立つ To be purplish

Word Notes:
①主(おも)立つ is used exclusively as a 連体詞 in the attributive form of 主立った. 

②気色立つ is for the most part archaic, having been more prevalent in Classical Japanese. However, it is still occasionally used in literature to this day. 
③Oddly enough, the phrase 浮足立つ didn’t appear in this form until Early Modern Japanese, making it an exceptional case of an old grammar point seeing some new light. 

20. 八百長レースだと観衆が殺気立っていた
The spectators seethed in rage that it was a rigged race.

21. 壁越しに人々の気色だつのが聞こえた。
I could hear the animated voices of people on the other side of the wall.

22. 心恥づかしうおぼさるれば、気色だちたまふことなし。
Since (Genji) cannot help but feel ashamed (for leaving behind Murasaki-no-Ue), he doesn’t dare show his emotions to (Akashi-no-Kimi). 

23. 倒産の噂に社員が浮足立っている。
The company employees are becoming restless at the rumors (that the company might go) bankrupt. 

24. あまりの恐ろしさに【鳥肌立っていた △・鳥肌が立っていた】。
To have goose bumps from the extreme fright. 

Word Note: The form 鳥肌立つ has faded out of use, being replaced by 鳥肌が立つ. Both utilize the literal interpretation of 立つ as “to emerge/manifest (=現象の兆しが見える).”  In today’s speech, the phrase 鳥肌が立つ can refer to having “goose bumps” from any sort of emotional stimulus, but in the past, the phenomenon was just associated with fright, severe cold, or other similar negative stimuli. 

25. まめだちたる人には物言ひにくし。
It’s rather hard to say to people who act so serious.

26. 受領など、大人だちぬるも、脹らかなるぞよき。
It’s nice for individuals like a provincial governor to be all adult and plump.

27. 野中に岡だちたる所にただ木ぞ三つたてる。
Only three trees stood on a hill-like area in the middle of the field.


28. 暮れぬれば、御台参りなどして、帯刀あるじだちて、しあるく。

When it became dusk, he had supper and such, and then he strutted around like the head of the household.


The affix ~つく attaches to onomatopoeic roots to create a five-grade conjugating verb. Though some pairs will differ somewhat in meaning, all examples of “onomatopoeic root + ~つく” have an alternative form created by doubling the onomatopoeic root. 

動詞の種類 意味 意味 動詞の種類 使用例   意味
 非対格動詞 いらつく   To get irritated非対格動詞 ぎらつくTo dazzle
 非対格動詞ちらつく ①To flicker②To fall lightly①非能格動詞②非対格動詞 ざわつく①To be noisy (from people talking)②To be discomposed
① 非対格動詞
 べたつく①To be sticky②To be close together (with someone’s body)非対格動詞 びくつく   To be scared
 非対格動詞ねばつく To be sticky非対格動詞 まごつく   To be at a loss
 非対格動詞 むかつく①To get pissed off②To feel nauseous 非対格動詞 ざらつく   To be sandy/gritty
 他動詞 ぱくつくTo gulp down food他動詞 がっつく    To devour greedily
非能格動詞 うろつく To loiter 非能格動詞 いちゃつく To flirt 

Syntactically, there are three groups of these so-called “つく-onomatopoeic verbs.” The resulting verb may be an unergative (intransitive) verb, an unaccusative (intransitive) verb, or a transitive verb. First, let’s understand what these three terms mean.

  • Unergative Verb (= 非能格動詞): An intransitive verb that only has a semantic agent. 
  • Unaccusative Verb (= 非対格動詞): An intransitive verb whose grammatical subject is not a semantic agent. Meaning, the subject neither ‘actively initiates’ nor is willfully responsible for the action of the verb. 
  • Transitive Verb (= 他動詞): A verb with an active agent and an object which receives the action. 

The majority of つく-onomatopoeic verbs are unaccusative verbs. Meaning, their grammatical subjects differ from verbs like “to run.” “To run” along with its Japanese equivalent 走る are examples of unergative verbs as their subjects are willful agents of the action they describe, but they don’t possess an object. On the other hand, unaccusative verbs are more similar to the objects of transitive sentences in the sense that they don’t act upon anything, but the action can be described as something happening to the subject.

As for what ~つく means in relation to onomatopoeia, it appears to have two separate meanings. The first meaning is to mark a “change described by the onomatopoeia” and the second meaning is to mark “the action described by the onomatopoeia.” The first meaning is fitting for the unaccusative examples whereas the second meaning is fitting for the transitive and unergative examples. Let’s look at some sentences for comparison. 

  • 非対格動詞をつくる「~つく」→ オノマトペで表される状態移行を描写する

29. 外国でまごついたことがある?
Have you gotten confused at a foreign country?

30. 仕事で上司にむかついた
I got ticked off at my boss at work. 

31. iOSの不具合が原因で、iPhoneの画面がちらついてしまうことがある。
There are times in which an iPhone’s screen may flicker with an iOS bug being the cause.

32. 俺の決心がぐらついちまった
My determination has wavered. 

33. 小雨がまだぱらついているが、空はだいぶ明るくなってきた。
Although it is still sprinkling, the sky has gotten quite brighter.

34. ただおかしいのはこの閑人がよると障ると多忙だ多忙だと触れ回るのみならず、その顔色がいかにも多忙らしい、悪くすると多忙に食い殺されはしまいかと思われる程こせ付いて居る
The one thing that’s so strange is that these humans of leisure not only go about screaming that they’re busy-busy whenever they come together, their very complexations look terribly busy, or worse, they’re so restless it’s as if they’re going to be devoured by their busyness. 

  • 非能格動詞・他動詞をつくる「~つく」= オノマトペで表される意図的・意志的な活動・動作をする

35. ここでなにぶらついてるんだ?
What are you doing hanging around here?

36. 外でいちゃついているカップルがいる。
There is a couple making out outside. 

37. 毎日家でごろついてばかりいないでいい加減仕事でもしてみたらどうだ?
Quit with just wandering about the house every day and try getting a job, won’t you?

38. クマがこの辺をうろついているらしい。
It seems that a bear is on the prowl around here.

Orthography Note: ~つく is believed to ultimately derive from 付く, although the literal meaning of this source verb have long since disappeared. Nonetheless, you will occasionally see writers use 付く as in 当て字 spelling. Generally speaking, however, the Kana spelling is predominant for all words in which it used.


The intransitive five-grade conjugating (五段活用) affix ~づく is the result of 付く attaching to nominal phrases to express a condition intensifying ( ~ような様子が強くなる ) or that something has become a certain way (~ような状態になる) . Although it would seem like this affix should be productive, it has become limited to set phrases. Some words are used heavily whereas some are hardly used, but you will notice from the words below that many have quite specialized meanings.

使用例意味  使用例意味 
色づく To change color
To turn crimson
 愛嬌づく To become charming
 調子づく To warm up to 元気づく To become encouraged
 秋づく To become fall-like根づく  To take root
 怖気づく To be seized with fear 気色づく To show signs of
 毒づく To speak bitterly 基づく To be based on

Word Note: The examples above that have become archaic are 秋づく and 気色づく. 

39. 褪せたものが色づいていくのが分かった。
I knew that what had faded would return to being full of color. 

40. 彼が、自分にヤジを飛ばしたファンに毒づく様子がメディアに報じられた。
His cursing a fan who had heckled him was reported by the media. 

41. 怖気づいて逃げるのはまだ早い。
It’s still too early to get cold feet and run away.

42. 北陸地方では真宗の教えが強く根付いている
Shin Buddhist teachings are strongly rooted in the Hokuriku Region.

Orthography Note: For the most part, ~づく is not written in Kanji, but the choice to do so is up to personal choice. However, it is notably common to see 根付く written as such rather than as 根づく.

Not all examples of ~づく are derived from 付く. Another verbal affix, ~尽く, existed in Classical Japanese and was equivalent to ~を尽くす. Oddly enough, although it exhibited four-grade conjugation in the classical eras, it has survived in Japanese it nominalized (or adjectival noun) set phrases (see also Lesson 327). 

43. なぜ日本が力づくで北方領土を取り戻そうとしないのか
Why won’t Japan ever attempt to take back the Northern Territories by force? 

44. 計算づくでやっている人間でもなければ、自分を省みて恥ずかしくないのかな?
If one weren’t a person doing it premeditated, would it not be embarrassing upon looking back on oneself?


This lower two-grade (下二段) verbal affix ~づける, derived from the verb 付ける, attaches to nominal phrases to create transitive verbs while contributing the meaning of “to add/give (a characteristic to something).” Verbs made with this ending, though limited in number, tend to be very common words.

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
関係づける To relate to 元気づける  To cheer up
 位置づける To position/locate 力づける  To empower
意味づける To give meaning to 名づける  To name

45. 納税者に義務付ける
To obligate the taxpayers.

46. もう一度やってみろと力づけました
I encouraged him to try it again.

47. 我々は基準として位置づけております
We are ranking it as standard.

48. 友達のケイトさんが飼い始めた雄のフェレットを「パンケーキ」と名付けました
My friend Kate named the male ferret she began raising “Pancake.”

49. その経験をどう意味づけていくのかが重要になってくる。
How to add meaning to the experience will become crucial. 


The intransitive five-grade conjugating verbal affix ~ばむ indicates taking on a particular quality. This affix is only seen in less than a handful of verbs.

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
汗ばむ To be sweaty黄ばむ  To become tinged yellow
 気色ばむ To display one’s anger 由ばむ※ To put on airs

Word Notes:

①気色ばむ is notably not used in the spoken language, but it remains used on occasion in the written language.
②由ばむ is an archaism that has since been replaced by other phrases such as 気取る. It must be noted, though, that in Classical Japanese, ~ばむ possessed a slightly larger realm of usage including attaching to the roots of adjectives and verbs, which can be seen in words such as おかしばむ (to appear interesting) 老いばむ (to seem old). However, even these examples were limited.

50. この黄ばんだ紙は本当に古くなってきたな。
This yellowed paper has really become old, hasn’t it?

51. 議員の発言に対して市長が気色ばむ一幕があった。
There was a scene in which the mayor displayed [his/her] anger towards an assembly member’s remark.

52. 観客たちは扇風機がすべて故障してしまったため、ひどく汗ばんでいた
The audience were terribly sweaty because all the fans had broken down. 


The five-grade conjugating verbal affix ~張(ば)る derives from the verb 張る (to affix), and with that it gives the meaning of “to be prominently/persistently…” The tendency described is one that is striking and remarkable.

derives from the  persists something and shows that a tendency is even more remarkable. All examples with it can be viewed as set phrases, but perhaps the most famous example would be 頑張る (to do one’s best/persevere), a word that is often taught on day one of Japanese 101. Although most other examples aren’t nearly as common as this one, this ending remains persistent in both the spoken and the written language.

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
頑張る To keep at it 角張る①To be angular/jagged②To be stiff/ceremonious
 格式張る To adhere to formality 気張るTo exert oneself
 欲張る To covet威張る To swagger
 意地張る To be obstinate 見栄張る To be ostentatious

Word Notes:
①角張る may be read as かどばる or かくばる. Both readings are readily understood and used interchangeably.

②意地を張る is actually far more predominant than 意地張る, but there is no difference in meaning. The same goes for 見栄張る meaning “to be ostentatious.” However, the nominal forms 意地っ張り (obstinate person) and 見栄っ張り (ostentatious person) exist, which involves the sound change /b/ to /:p/ to make the words sound more emphatic. 

53. あまり欲張らないで

Don’t be so greedy.

54. そんなに角張っては窮屈だよ。
Being so ceremonious is so uncomfortable.

55. 昔、知識人たちは、四角張った文字を用いて翻訳していたものだった。
In the past, intellectuals would translate using highly formal Kanji. 

56. 武士らしく格式張った語り方をする。
To tell a story in a formal style like that of a samurai. 

57. あまり気張るな。
Don’t strain yourself.


The affix ~びる started out in Classical Japanese as ~ぶ. This form possessed two separate conjugation classes depending on what it followed. First, it must be understood that this affix indicates “exhibiting the quality of (said noun, adjective, adjective noun, etc.).” This meaning remains consistent in all the roots it followed. 

The affix ~ぶ attached to nouns, onomatopoeic roots, as well as the roots of adjectives and adjectival nouns. However, the conjugation class divide appears to be a semantic one not based on the part of speech of which it attaches to. The two conjugation classes it possessed were upper two-grade and four-grade. 

The Upper Two-Grade ~ぶ → The Upper One-Grade ~びる

The upper two-grade examples are compromised of words which are unrelated to human emotion. These words largely reflect physical appearance or a description of demeanor, but words such as “sad” or “happy” were not used with the upper two-grade ~ぶ as those words are directly related to human emotion. In Modern Japanese, these verbs transformed into upper one-grade verbs with the transformed 終止形・連体形 of  ~びる. All of these verbs are intransitive. 

Grammatically, all of the verbs listed below with exception to 滅びる and 荒びる are heavily restricted as to which structures they’re used with. The rest are not used in the non-past in predicative sentences. Instead, the progressive form ~びている is used, which may then be conjugated further. Due to the overall decline of ~びる, however, with exception to  滅びる and 荒びる, these words are mostly restricted to being used as attributes, in which case they are obligatorily used with ~た, producing examples such as 古びた, etc. 

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
大人びる  To look/behave adult-like 鄙びるTo be(come) very  rustic/hick
 古びる  To be worn-out雅びる  To be refined
 荒びる  To behave wild田舎びる To become countrified
 幼びる To look/behave childish 滅びる To perish/become ruined
 綻びる To come apart at the seams

Word Notes

①荒びる is marked as archaic in some dictionary resources. Although this is true in standard speech, there are parts of Japan where this word is still in common use. For instance, in Nagano it is still used with the meaning “to rage” and in Ehime it is especially used in the sense of “to rough-house.” Where this word is still commonly used, it demonstrates no restrictions to its conjugational capacity. 

②鄙 is an out-of-date noun meaning, “land far removed from the city.” As a standalone noun, it may still be found in the expression 鄙には稀な meaning, “rare even in the middle of nowhere.”  This makes it synonymous with 田舎. There is a decent percentage of people who misunderstand this word as meaning “to be sophisticated,” perhaps due to the nostalgic ring this word has as opposed to the synonymous 田舎びる. However, this is not a valid use of the word as it is used throughout Japan with its original meaning as can be gleamed from the dialectal sentence in Ex. 56.

③雅びる is the antonym of 鄙びる, which is ironic considering how the latter is misused with a similar meaning to that of 雅びる. The みや in this word is likely the same /miya/ as in the words 宮 (palace) and 都(みやこ) (capital). In this word, it would seem /miya/ has the literal meaning of “city.” Thus, 雅びる more literally means “behaving city-like.” In Modern Japanese, although 雅びる is defunct and limited to literature, the noun 雅(みや)び is still widely known in the sense of “elegance” as well as a personal name. 雅び can also be used as an adjectival noun with the meaning of “elegant.” 
④Though common in Classical Japanese as 幼(をさな)ぶ, the modern form 幼びる has mostly been replaced by the paraphrased equivalent 幼く見える. 
⑤The /horo/ in 滅びる is thought to be onomatopoeic in nature. Although ほろほろ has several nonrelated meanings in Modern Japanese, it does have the meaning of “breaking into pieces (with little effort).” Although 滅びる is the proper form, the five-grade form 滅ぶ has existed for centuries. Both 滅びる and 滅ぶ are still used.  

⑥The etymology of 綻びる is unclear. In addition to the meaning listed above, it may also be “to begin to bloom” and ‘to break into a smile.” Similarly to 滅びる, it also has the four-grade form 綻ぶ. Both forms are in use.

58. 古びた鞘を獲得した!

Obtained the Ancient Sheath! 

59. 大人びて見えるね。

You look mature for your age.

60. ありゃ鄙びた湯治場や。
That there’s a beat-down hot-spring resort.

61. 寺の北は大都会だが、南はガクッと風景が変わり、田舎びている
The north of the temple is the big city, but to the south the scenery changes, rustic in appearance. 

The Four-Grade ~ぶ → The Five-Grade ~ぶ・む

The four-grade conjugating affix ~ぶ attached to words related to human emotion. In Modern Japanese, these verbs became five-grade conjugating verbs ending in ~む, but it must be noted that the consonant in Classical Japanese would have been /mb/, which was transcribed as either ~ぶ or ~む throughout antiquity.

※Dictionaries will list 緩む as having the alternate classical forms 緩ぶ and 緩ふ, but the latter form was limited to Old Japanese and is likely a reflection of how /mb/ was realized during that time period.

Generally speaking, verbs created in this way were transitive and synonymous with ~く思う. Examples of this include 悲しむ (→ 悲しく思う). Some examples, however, were intransitive such as 緩む, which had transitive forms that conjugated as lower two-grade verbs (now ending in ~める in Modern Japanese). 

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
To relax (intr.)To relax (trans.)嬉しむ(他・自) To think happily of (trans.)To become happy (intr.)
 儚む(他) To despair of  悲しむ(他・自) To mourn of (trans.)To be sad (intr.)
To loosen (intr.)To loosen up (trans.) 倦む(自) To be(come) bored/tired

①緩む and 弛む may mean “to become loose” in a physical sense, but they are a part of this word group because of their emotional connotation. 
②The ~む found in other verbs such as 親しむ, 楽しむ, etc. is the same as the ~む in these verbs. 

③The modern iteration of 弛む is たるむ, but in Classical Japanese and set expressions, its traditional pronunciation is たゆむ.

④嬉しむ is now archaic in standard speech.

62. 連休前で気が緩んでいます
It’s right before consecutive holidays, and (so) I’m not as focused.

63. 人柄も良かったのに、何故、世を儚んで自殺してしまったのだろうか。
There character was so good, yet why did they despair of the world so badly and end up committing suicide?

64. 倦(う)まず弛(たゆ)まず努力をした結果、入学試験に合格した。
As a result of striving tirelessly without ever letting up, I passed the entrance exam.

Transitive Upper Two-Grade ~ぶ → Transitive Five-Grade ~ぶ

There are four examples of transitive verbs created with ~ぶ that started out as upper-two grade verbs but evolved into transitive five-grade verbs into Modern Japanese※. 

使用例意味  使用例 意味
真似ぶ※ To mimic/learn 学ぶ To learn
 喜ぶ To rejoice 否む To refuse/deny

※Although Modern Japanese possesses the verb forms 真似(を)する and 真似る for “to mimic,” the traditional form was 真似ぶ. Indeed, “to exhibit mimicry” is by all means equivalent to “to mimic,” making this a perfect example of how ~ぶ produced transitive verbs. Although this form has disappeared, it also had the meaning of “to learn,” which was inherited by the slightly altered form まなぶ → 学ぶ. 

65. 新人が経験不足であることは否めない
One cannot deny that newcomers lack experience.


~ぶる is a five-grade conjugating ending which attaches to nouns or to the stem of adjectives/adjectival nouns to indicate that someone is “pretending/acting as…” This ending is very common and can be used after any noun regarding people; however, it is only used with a handful of adjectives/adjectival nouns. This ending gives off a negative connotation. Thus, a word like 善人ぶる shouldn’t be viewed as “to act like a good person” but more like “to pretend to be a good person.”

All verbs made with this affix are intransitive and they all tend to be restricted grammatically to predicates utilizing the progressive and in attributes made with ~ている or ~た. 

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
偉ぶる  To put on airs 親ぶる To act like a parent
 上品ぶる  To be prudish 聖人ぶるTo pretend to be a saint
 学者ぶる  To be pedantic 勿体ぶる  To assume importance
 空(から)ぶる  To swing and miss 荒ぶる  To act all savage

Grammar Note: It is also possible to see ぶる used as a standalone verb with the meaning of “to be self-important.” Usually, though, it is used as a suffix. 

Word Note: 荒ぶる is often confused with the classical 連体形 of 荒びる. 荒ぶる remains as a 連体詞 most commonly seen in the expression 荒ぶる神 (raging god) when derived from the 連体形 of 荒びる , but when it is derived from 荒 + ~ぶる, the proper attributive form would be 荒ぶった. For example, 荒ぶった態度 (attitude acting all savage). 

66. 偉ぶってる人は大嫌い。
I hate people who think they’re all that.

67. そうもったいぶるなよ。
Stop acting so important. 

68. ちょっと学者ぶった言い方じゃない?
Isn’t that a little pedantic way of saying it?

69. あの師匠はいやに上品ぶって自分だけ人間らしい顔をしている、馬鹿野郎です。
That gives off the face that only they’re human, acting all too prudish; quite the stupid bastard. 

Orthography Note: This affix may be spelled as ~振る, but it is seldom spelled this way. ~ぶる is most certainly etymologically related to 振る舞う (to behave), but the exact meaning of both /furu/ and /mau/ in this compound verb remains a mystery. What is certain is that the Kanji chosen are merely Ateji and that neither word is related to the standalone verb 振る “to shake/sprinkle.” 

Etymology Note: Meaning-wise, ~ぶる seems strikingly similar to ~ぶ. Both exhibit ~ぶる as a possible form, although for the latter this would be archaic. However, ~ぶる is seen with the same exact meaning of “to pretend to be…” even in Classical Japanese and with the same conjugation class. Although ~ぶ does mark behavior, this is often in association with ‘change’ in appearance/demeanor which is not implied by ~ぶる. Thus, the etymology of ~ぶる remains in mystery. 


The verbal affix ~めく attaches to nouns, onomatopoeic roots, as well as the stems of adjectives or adjectival nouns to indicate “signs of.” Its productivity is restricted to set phrases when combined with adjectival and onomatopoeic roots, but it still enjoys a certain degree of personal creativity when combined with nouns relating to people, in which case it is like a refined way of saying “-like.” For instance, 才人めいた (talented-like). 

Grammatically speaking, it must also be noted that ~めく is most frequently used in the attributive sense with the auxiliary ~た, and when it is used in the predicative sense, it is usually paired with the progressive tense. However, many examples created from onomatopoeic roots are more likely to be used with varied syntax such as 蠢(うごめ)く (to squirm).  

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
騒(ざわ)めく To be noisy/rustle 閃(ひらめ)くTo flash 
 仄(ほの)めく To glimmer 色めくTo be tinged/grow lively 
謎めく To be mysterious 春めく To be spring-like 
 時めくTo flourish 学者めく To be scholar-like 

70. 庭の楓かえでが色めくのは本当に美しいですよね。

 The changing in colors of the maple trees in the garden is really beautiful, isn’t it?

71. {うわぁ・ああ}、蠢めいてる虫だ!
Ah, a wriggling worm!

72. 彼は今を時めく歌手・有名人です。
He is one of the most touted singers of today. 

73. 謎めいた様相を呈する。(Rigid/literary)
To display a mysterious condition. 

74. 陽光に川面が煌めく
The river surface glistens in the sunlight. 

75. どよめいて、人々が飛びのく。一人の背中が飛鳥にぶつかった。はね飛ばされて、壁に肩をぶつける。さらにはね返ってよろめき、あやうく転びかけたときだった。
People jumped back in a stir. One person’s back hit Asuka. This sent her flying, resulting in her shoulder hitting a wall. It was then that she bounced back while staggering, narrowly almost dangerously tumbling over. 

From 野生の風 by 村山由佳.


The standalone verb めかす (粧す) means “to make one’s appearance stand out.” As an affix, it attaches to nouns or adjectival nouns to mean “to make something out to be.” The standalone verb and affix both derive from the transitive form of the similar verbal affix ~めく which attaches to a variety of words with the meaning of “to show signs of.” 

The words that ~めかす attaches to is limited to set-phrases. Additionally, words made with it are seldom used with two exceptions being the verb 仄めかす (to suggest) and the phrase 冗談めかして (half-jokingly). Otherwise, the other example words shown in the chart below are quite rare. 

使用例 意味 使用例 意味
仄めかす  To suggest/imply冗談めかす  To joke
秘密めかす To pose as a secret親切めかす  To be sleek
学者めかす  To pose as a scholar風流めかす   To pose as elegant

Semantically, we can see that there is a lot in common between ~めかす and ~ぶる from earlier. Although dictionaries do not state any grammatical constraints on the practical use of words made with ~めかす, aside from 仄めかす (which happens to be a commonly used word), the rest are restricted to being used in adverbial gerunds with the particle て or as attributes with the auxiliary ~た. 

It would also appear to be the case that aside from 仄めかす and 冗談めかす, most examples can be viewed as conceptions on the part of the speaker to create a unique remark. There is a heightened literary sense made when employing this ending which would otherwise not be had if a more standard phrasing were used. 

76. 「いや、毎日、お前と一緒にいたいのだ、」と夫は冗談めかして言った。
“No, I want to be with you every day,” my husband said (half-)jokingly. 

77.  仄めかしただけだ。
I only suggested.


~やく is yet another affix which indicates behavior, but it is limited to a very small number of onomatopoeic roots. Interestingly enough, it would seem that the behavior in question is limited to words related to murmuring or similarly sounding vocalizations as there are only three extant words made with it that all share this theme. 

使用例 意味 使用例 意味 使用例 意味
囁くTo whisper/rumor 呟く  To mutter/tweet ぼやく  To grumble/complain

78. 耳元で囁やく
To whisper in the ears.

79. 僕は彼にそっと呟やいた
I gently muttered it to him.


The affix ~やぐ attaches to nouns and the stems of adjectives to show that something takes on or behaves to fit a certain appearance. This affix is the verbal equivalent of ~やか and may also be seen as ~らぐ in some instances. For more coverage, see the lesson on the affix /-gu/, which is actually embedded in this ending.

使用例意味  使用例 意味
和らぐ To soften/calm down 若やぐ To act/look young

80. 華やいだ雰囲気が漂っている。
There is a cheerful atmosphere in the air.

81.  なんと若やいだ声だな。
What a youthful voice.