Jumping/leaping/hopping: 跳ぶ vs 跳ねる

Can anyone enlighten me as to the difference between 跳ぶ and 跳ねる? Both mean ‘to jump’.

跳ぶ (tobu) is pronounced differently to 跳ねる (haneru), which leads me to believe they are used for different things rather than being exact synonyms or just different ways of writing/saying the same thing.

Googling some English language answers has proven unfruitful. So I turned to Google images.

跳ぶ, which is pronounced the same as 飛ぶ (which means ‘to fly’) had pictures of people jumping through the air. Whereas 跳ねる had pictures of rabbits.

Should I infer from this that 跳ぶ is ‘to jump’ as in ‘to leap through the air’, whereas 跳ねる is ‘to jump’ as in ‘to move though a series of hops or bounds’ without significant air?

For example, a rabbit might be 跳ねる-ing until it suddenly has to jump from a small ledge, in which case it initiates a 跳ぶ? In English, that would be like ‘a hopping rabbit leapt from the small ledge’.

Can someone familiar with this distinction please either confirm or correct my suspicions?


Aye, I was going to suggest Google Image Search if you hadn’t already, because that’s quite often a fairly useful tool for feeling the subtleties in meaning.

The conclusions you’ve drawn are pretty much on the button.


Yeah, you’ve got the distinctions correct. The word ジャンプ might get used in discussing things like video games where just saying とぶ could be ambiguous.

Normal humans can’t fly, but game characters might be able to.


So in this case, humans don’t 跳ねる unless they’re giddy with excitement or pretending to be rabbits or something?

A jump in the athletic sense is always a 跳び and therefore can be confused with a ‘flight’ in fictional (or extreme) contexts. Is that right?

Is jumping up and down with a jump rope 跳ねる then? Or is it still 跳ぶ?


Using a jump rope is 縄跳びをする. Not honestly sure whether the actual jumping action is ever referred to with a separate verb.


You can refer to a small human jump with 跳ねる, yes.


Hmmm, I guess that’s even more etymological corroboration for my 跳 = ‘hopping up and down’ theory. Thanks for the insight!

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Once I heard a native speaker refer to a bouncy house (which according to wikipedia is also known as an “inflatable castle”) as a ピョンピョン跳ねるやつ so that’s what always comes to mind for me when I hear 跳ねる.


Lol the definition of ピョンピョン in goo is 身軽に繰り返し飛び跳ねるさま。

And now I wonder where 飛び跳ねる fits on the scale of 跳ぶ/跳ねる :laughing:


And the definition of 飛び跳ねる is 飛び上がるように跳ねる


My first exposure to the word 飛び跳ねる was from Uninhabited Planet Survive, when one of the characters names a small kangaroo-like creature “tobihane” because of how it moves.

And indeed, the Japanese wikipedia article for ウサギ describes the rabbit’s locomotion style with 飛び跳ねる seven times.