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Etymology 1Edit

Kanji in this term
Grade: S

From (ko-, a small thing: , ) +‎ たわる (tawaru, to lose oneself in something, to obsess over something: 戯る, 狂る). The tawaru changes to dawaru as an instance of rendaku (連濁).

Tawaru derives from the same tawa element in words such as 戯ける (tawakeru, to mess around, to act crazy, to be nonsensical) or 戯言 (tawagoto, nonsense, crazy talk), indicating "actions or state out of the ordinary: eccentricity, preposterousness, absurdity":
tawa + auxiliary verb (ru, indicating spontaneous or passive action).

Tawa may be the nominalized imperfective form of root verb たう (tau, to stand up to pressure, to remain unchanged, to last; to be appropriate to a task, to have value: 堪う, 耐う, 勝う), with the imperfective possibly indicating “not lasting: fickle, changing; not being appropriate, not having value”.



拘る (intransitive, godan conjugation, hiragana こだわる, rōmaji kodawaru, historical hiragana こだはる)

  1. to get hung up on something, to not proceed smoothly
    些細 (ささい)なことに (こだわ)って納品 (のうひん) (おく)れた。
    Sasai na koto ni kodawatte nōhin ga okureta.
    He got hung up on minor details, and he was late delivering [the product].
  2. to be concerned over something that is not worth attention: to be overly fastidious or particular
     () ()すればよいのに、どうして (こだわ)の。
    Mushi sureba yoi no ni, dōshite kodawaru no.
    You should be ignoring that, so why are you worrying about it?
  3. to nitpick about something
    メニューの言葉遣 (ことばづか)いに (こだわ)文句 (もんく) ()
    menyū no kotobazukai ni kodawari monku o iu
    to nitpick and complain about the wording of the menu
  4. to take special care over something, to be particular (in a positive way)
    品質 (ひんしつ) (こだわ)
    hinshitsu ni kodawaru
    to be careful about quality, to be particular about quality
Usage notesEdit

Usually written in hiragana.

Though intransitive, this verb usually takes an indirect object followed by the particle (ni).

The positive connotations of sense 4 appear to be a more recent development. Some speakers and writers may caution against using the word this way.


Etymology 2Edit

Kanji in this term
Grade: S

Derived from the explicitly intransitive or passive form of root verb かかう (kakau, to carry, to be carried: 抱う, 香う):
kakau > imperfective form kakawa + auxiliary verb (ru, indicating spontaneous or passive action).

In turn, kakau derives from root verb かく (kaku, to catch one thing atop another: 掛く, 懸く):
kaku > imperfective form kaka + auxiliary verb (fu, indicating repetition or ongoing state: modern verb ending u).


Alternative formsEdit


拘る (intransitive, godan conjugation, hiragana かかわる, rōmaji kakawaru, historical hiragana かかはる)

  1. to be in relation to, to be relevant to, to be involved in
    その事件 (じけん)かかわっていません。
    Sono jiken ni kakawatte imasen.
    I was not involved in that incident.
  2. to be involved in a negative way: to meddle, to interfere
    家族 (かぞく) (けん)ですのでかかわらない (ほう) ()いです。
    Kazoku no ken desu node kakawaranai hō ga ii desu.
    It's a family affair, so it would be best not to interfere.
  3. to have a substantial effect on something, to endanger something
    inochi ni kakawaru koto
    a matter of life and death
    • 名誉 (めいよ)かかわる問題 (もんだい)
      meiyo ni kakawaru mondai
      a problem affecting / impinging upon one's honor
  4. to get hung up on something
    こんな平凡 (へいぼん)なことになぜかかわるのか。
    Konna heibon na koto ni naze kakawaru no ka.
    Why are you getting hung up on / why are you worrying over such a humdrum issue?
Usage notesEdit

Usually written in hiragana. When written in kanji, sense 4 “to get hung up on something” is generally written as 拘る or 拘わる, with the other senses written as 関わる or 係わる.

Though intransitive, this verb usually takes an indirect object followed by the particle (ni).



  1. 1.0 1.1 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN