Difficult-to-guess compound verbs (e.g. 振り込む)

So, I’m not sure if there’s a good word for these compound verbs that consist of the ます form of one verb plus another verb added to the end.

For example, 走る (はしる to run) + 回る (まわる + to go around) = 走り回る (はしりまわる to run around)

Many of them can be easily guessed from knowing the meaning of the two individual verbs, like 走り回る. It’s pretty straightforward.

Some are a bit more metaphorical, or require a bit of imagination to work them out, like 思う (おもう to think) + 出す (だす to take out) = 思い出す (おもいだす to remember, literally “to suddenly think” or “to produce a thought” I guess)

Sometimes they have both a straightforward and a less obvious meaning. Like 引く (ひく to pull) + 起こす (おこす to get someone up) = 引き起こす (ひきおこす to pull someone up, to cause something to happen). You can guess the first one if you see 人を引き起こす (to pull a person up), but probably not the second if you see 病気を引き起こす (びょうきをひきおこす to cause a disease). Well, maybe you can if you remember that 起こす can also be to cause something just on its own.

But sometimes they have no straightforward interpretation that you can guess from the two verbs, like 振る (ふる to wave, shake) + 込む (こむ to be included) = 振り込む (ふりこむ to make a bank deposit).

What are some other ones like that you can think of?


They’re just called Compound verbs, or 複合動詞 in Japanese.


I’ve come across a couple lately.

走り出す(はしりだす)Apparently 出す is commonly used as a suffix on verbs, with the meaning “to begin…” or “to break into…”. So this one would be “to start running” or “to break into a run”. (Much different from my first guess, which was “to run out (of someplace)”)

乗り込む(のりこむ)Which jisho lists as having two meanings. One sounds pretty similar to the main meaning of 乗る “to get on/board (a vehicle)”, but the second is “to march into” or “to enter”.

Yeah, I wouldn’t have known that second meaning.

Another one I heard the other day (in a political ad) that was new to me was 守り抜く (まもりぬく to protect to the end). Basically, it was new to me that 抜く can be a suffix that means “to do fully” and not just “to extract”.

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I’ve seen a few recently while studying.

One yesterday was 汲み取る (くみとる). It means to understand/surmise. The 汲む part refers to drawing or scooping up water but can also be used for considering something I think. I can definitely see the imagery involved here though.

Not sure if it’s quite what you are going for but 履き替える (はきかえる) has the straightforward meaning of changing things on the lower half of the body. But it can also (kind of understandably I guess) be used for changing tires.

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I first encountered 申し込む (もうしこむ) on iKnow and was very confused at first. I would never have guessed that it meant “to apply”.

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Let me ask you a question while you mentioned it. Does iKnow have a lot of different vocab from WK?

Just remembered one: 書き入れる. Probably the easiest one though xD

Does this mean to put something into writing?
Ok, I’ll go look it up now to check.

[Edit: "to write in"
So like a test where you have to write down answers, rather than multiple choice?

From the examples that I’ve seen, it should work for both. It also has the meaning of “to fill in”.

There is a very cool dictionary for compound verbs at http://vvlexicon.ninjal.ac.jp/db/

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It has close to 1000 kana-only words (based on the content of a Memrise course). Many are borrowed and so use katakana, but there are some hiragana ones like はっきり that are good to know.

The kanji-containing words do seem to overlap a good amount with Wanikani, but of course the order’s different.

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Coincidentally, I was doing a very brief research on compound verbs last week and found this article about them and the database @aasaa has just posted.

There was also a thread at stackexchange briefly talking about the difference between compound verbs (複合動詞) and subsidiary/auxiliary ones (補助動詞).

lfeuln summed up the content well.

There are a lot of obvious katakana words (and some not so obvious) and a lot of overlap with WaniKani. I find the adverbs (like はっきり) to be some of the most interesting words that show up. I’m only a quarter of the way through iKnow (about 1500 words learned), but I’ve encountered a fairly large number of words there that I saw first on WaniKani, and the other way around.

For me though, the bigger benefit of using iKnow is the varied question types. Even words that I think I know (either they are very common or I learned well on WaniKani), I don’t always recognize it in various ways. Even if I know the word in kanji from WaniKani, I may not remember what the English meaning is when seeing it in kana only. Or I may not recognize it when I hear the word spoken. iKnow tests all of that, which is nice.

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Hum… this is nice! :slight_smile: I’m honestly lacking katakana vocab knowledge. This could help fixing the problem. Thanks for letting me know!

Hum, that’s a nice bonus :slight_smile: I might give it a try. Thanks! :slight_smile:

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