I came up with this question when reading 「ドラえもん」.

In this manga, characters often say "弱ったな" when they are in a mood of indulgent helplessness or when in trouble, but I was more familiar with "困った".

After some search I learned that "弱った" can be used as another saying for "困った".

I want to ask if "弱った" is still a common usage nowadays, or if it is considered era-specific or old-school.

And is there any difference between "弱った" and "困った"?

  • I'm not sure why looking up both terms in a dictionary doesn't answer the question. Commented Jan 12 at 4:32
  • 2
    @KarlKnechtel I don't see anything in the more popular online dictionaries that would answer the question of if this usage is common nowadays or is old-fashioned. Do you have a recommendation?
    – Leebo
    Commented Jan 12 at 10:04

3 Answers 3


I want to ask if "弱った" is still a common usage nowadays, or if it is considered era-specific or old-school.

I wouldn't say 弱った is old-fashioned or era-specific, but 弱った does sound slightly ojisan-like to me. In a typical "salary-man" manga, 困った, 弱った and 参った are pretty much interchangeable, but I feel teenagers say 弱った and 参った less often. The difference is small, and not everyone might agree with me.

  • Agreed, I think the threshold is around gen x Commented Jan 14 at 13:12

In the given context, "弱った" means feeling emotionally drained or lacking confidence, as if you're not in a strong mental state, while "困った" means facing a specific difficulty or trouble in doing something. So, in the situation of "ドラもえん," he felt emotionally weakened and used the word "弱った" to express his inner state.


Technically they do mean slightly different things - 弱った literally means you are worrying or weakened because of a trouble, while 困った means you have a problem you have to solve. For example, you can say 寒さで虫が弱っている but it would be slightly odd to say 寒さで虫が困っている because bugs don't have the mental capacity to solve problems (whereas they are fully capable to being weakened). Similarly, if you say 弱って電話した vs 困って電話した, the expectation could be slightly different (弱る has perhaps more emphasis on emotional support, whereas 困る more on concrete advice).  

Now that said in the example you shared, they convey almost identical feelings IMO. E.g. if you say 困った, the nuance is still that you are insecure/worrying, and if you say 弱った it still conveys you have a problem you have to solve and vice versa.

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