第158課: 擬声語 III: 擬態語・擬情語

擬態語 represent states and 擬情語 represent emotion(al states). These are intertwined with each other, and they are often tied to some sort of sound. Just like before, different spellings and nuances based on context are to be expected. However, the best thing that you can do to learn Japanese onomatopoeic expressions is see them how they're being used. 


To begin, we will look at a chart of common 擬態語 and 擬情語. Some notes that we have already seen before will be repeated in context of this lesson as reinforcement of what you already know with new material. 

 Tired, exhausted くたくた(と・に) Irritated いらいら(と)
 Refreshed すっきり(と) Fixedly じっと
 Round and round ぐるぐる(と) Firmly; fixedly
 Relieved ほっと Nervous; excitedly わくわく(と)
 Resolutely; tightly; firmly; steadily  
 しっかり(と) Furiously ぷんぷん(と)
 Restlessly そわそわ(と) Astonished びっくり(と)
 In a mess めちゃくちゃ Drenched びっしょり(と)
 Glistening ぴかぴか(と) Radiantly きらきら(と)
 Watery べちゃべちゃ Sneeze はくしょん
 Rough ざらざら(と・に) Stickily ねばねば(と)
 Ecstatically; vacantly うっとり(と) Dejected がっかり
  • くたくた: Exhausted, worn down,  boiled to a mush, or even wordy.
  • いらいら(と): It may be irritating as in emotions are as in the body. 
  • すっくり(と):  Being refreshed, clean-cut, straightforward, complete, and even neat. 
  • しっかり(と): It can also mean reliable and enough.
  • ぷんぷん(と): It can also refer to a strong smell in a negative fashion.

Part of Speech Note: Some verbs are based off of onomatopoeia. Ex. きらめく (to sparkle/radiate).

Voicing Note: Voiced onomatopoeia often have a more serious or dramatic tone to them versus their very similar non-voiced counterparts. They are often antonymous. For example, さらさら can be smooth but ざらざら is rough. 

As you can see, there are some very similar patterns going on. Many onomatopoeic expressions in Japanese are the result of a doubled element(s). We have expressions like こそこそ(と) (stealthily) where double-morae element is doubled. These in particular are subject to having many variants. For instance, you can say こそっと or こっそり instead.  Note that the insertion of the っ is prevented when the resulting double consonant is not one that is allowed in Japanese. 

Please note that you always have your irregularities. Sometimes different forms have different nuances, although always related. This does not include non-onomatopoeic words with repeating elements. This is really just something you have to mess around with and test the limits of.


1. めらめらともえているほのお
    A flaring flame

2. ちんちん。
    Beg! (To a dog)

3. だらだらとした討論とうろん
    A lengthy debate

4. じとじとした部屋
    Humid/damp room

5. がっかりした顔
   A dejected face 

6. 音楽おんがくにうっとりする。
    To be enchanted by music.

7. はらはらしてつ。
    To wait in great suspense.

8. ばらばらにこわす。
    To break into pieces.

9. でれでれにする。
    To be love-stricken.

10. にょろにょろとまわる。
     To slither about.

11. あには今日プンプンしてる。(Casual)
      My old brother is in a bad mood today.

12. ぎらぎら太陽たいよう
     A glaring sun

13a. 雨をはるばるる。
13b. 雨をわざわざる。
        Come all the way through the rain.

Sentence Note: 13a infers that you never stopped on the way, and 13b infers that you took the trouble to come that far. 

14. からからにする。
      To dry up.

15. ずきずきといたむ。
      To throb in pain.

16. ぎっしりまった
      Packed; tight; heavy

17. 雨でぐっしょりとぬれた。
      I got soaked by the rain.

18. ぺこりとあたまげる。
      To bob one's head.

19. ぼんやりとした人影ひとかげ
      A vague figure.

20. がっしりとした
      A well-built man

21. (あなた)の日本語能力のうりょくはめきめきと上達じょうたつしていますね。
      Your Japanese skills are remarkably improving.

22. チューインガムがくつそこにぺたっとくっついた。
      Chewing gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe.

23. ぐずぐずする。
     To be slow at doing.

24. まるまるとしたぱら
      A plump drunkard 

25. けむりがもくもくとがる。
      For smoke to rise.

26. ぱっくりと裂ける。
     To split open. 

27. とげがちくちく(と)する
      Thorns are prickly

28. 背中がぞくぞく(と)する。
      For one's back to chill.

29. ふつふつ(と)沸く
      To boil out. 

30. 彼はまあまあやさしい。 
      He is relatively nice.

Part of Speech Note: まあまあ can also be seen as an interjection meaning "now, now" or "my, my". Many adverbial phrases have varying parts of speech depending on usage.  

31. びんはすっかりからだ。
      The bottle is quite/completely empty.

32. もうすっかりよくなりましたか。
      Have you become quite well already?

33. そっとかたいた。
      I gently hugged his shoulder.

Reading Note: 抱く is either read as だく or いだく. The first shows physical embrace. The latter shows the bearing of thoughts, feelings, etc. 

Eating & Drinking

 To gnaw がりがり(と)かじる To eat heartily もりもり(と)食べる
 To gulp whole がぶりと飲み込む
 To bite into ぱ(っ)くり(と)食べる
 To bite fiercely がぶり(と)かむ  


 To smile にっこり(と)笑う To smile にこにこ(と)笑う
 To sneer
 せせら To have a broad grin にた{っと・りと・にた(と)}笑う
 To smirk にや{っと・りと・にや(と)}笑う  


 To harp くだくだ(と)いう
 To nag がみがみ(と)する To be fluent ぺらぺら(と)
 To murmur ぶつぶつ(と)いう To buzz がやがや To be outspoken ぽんぽん(と)いう
 To chatter ぺちゃくちゃ(と)しゃべる
 To scold がんがん(と)いう To swallow  ぼそぼそ(と)いう
 To whisper ひそひそ(と)いう To grunt ぶうぶう(と)いう Noisily わいわい(と)

 Eating & Drinking

 To gulp ごくごく(と)飲む
 To guzzle がつがつ(と)食べる
 To gnaw がりがり(と)かじる To eat heartily もりもり(と)食べる
 Crunchy こりこり(と)する Scraping; hard to the teeth ごりごり(と)
 To gobble ぱくぱく(と)食べる To suck ちゅうちゅう(と)吸う
 To swallow ごくり(と)飲む
 To bite into ぱ(っ)くり(と)食べる
 To bite fearcly がぶり(と)かむ To gulp whole がぶりと飲み込む