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I've been using Japanese-Japanese dictionaries for a while now and this keeps popping up. It seems to me like a kind of usage that is found for the most part only in dictionaries. Can anyone help explain what exactly さま means in the dictionary definition below? (It's from 大辞泉.) It seems to be just a generic object that they modify with the term's definition, i.e. XYZ is a blah blah blah さま (thing).


[形動][文][ナリ]1 形や規模があまり大げさでなく、控えめなさま。「―な商売をはじめる」「―に暮らす」

Any clarification would be really appreciated.

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(1) It is better to state the source when you quote something. (2) Have you checked さま in a dictionary? – Tsuyoshi Ito Jan 5 '13 at 16:12

The さま in these definitions is none other than . in this sense is synonymous with 有【あり】様 or 様子, meaning "state, circumstances, situation, appearance, condition".

So the definition of 細やか you provided would translate as "shape/scope not being grandiose or exaggerated, but being (a) reserved/moderate/conservative (state)".

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