What is the etymology of the verbs 望む(のぞむ) and 覗く(のぞく)?

For reference, here are the (top) Japanese dictionary definitions. There are multiple for each one, but I only copied the top one for each.

のぞ・く : 物陰やすきま、小さな穴などから見る (source)

のぞ・む : はるかに隔てて見る (source)

I assume they share a common root. However, it's the origin of this "nozo-" root that has had me perplexed for a while. I don't know of any other native Japanese words that share this root. I thought perhaps it could be a combination of some の element + そく/そむ with そく/そむ becoming ぞく/ぞむ due to rendaku. But that also doesn't make much sense to me given that they're the only verbs that end in ぞく/ぞむ. (At least that I can find on Jisho).

In many words relating to eyes (and by extension, looking and seeing), the /m/ sound is present in the word/the verb stem (みる, まどろむ, まつげ, まなこ, etc), but it's absent in the nozo- root, which made me even more curious as to where it came from.

I've tried to search online for answers before, both in English and Japanese, to no avail.

Also, there's another verb, 除く, that is also spelled のぞく. Given that they're homonyms and share the same pitch accent pattern according to Wiktionary, I assume they're cognate. I didn't mention it because I'm having trouble seeing the semantic link between peeking through a gap/hole and removing/eliminating.

Anyway, any help or resources at all would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: Fixed a couple typos.

  • This will turn out to be an overly difficult/Herculean question... If it can be answered
    – Star Peep
    Commented May 4 at 1:27
  • まどろむ comes from 目とろん + む. Except for みる, what you listed comes from 目, which most likely comes from みる.
    – Star Peep
    Commented May 4 at 1:27
  • 2
    Possibly nobody knows etymology of those words, but anyway Old/Middle Japanese b, d, g, z were prenasalized (see this), and are usually assumed to result from contractions of nasal consonant + p, t, k, s, sometimes with loss of vowel between them (see this and this). So Old Japanese z in native words can come from Proto-Japonic */ms/, */ns/, */mas/, */nas/, */mis/, */nis/, */məs/, */nəs/ etc.
    – Arfrever
    Commented May 4 at 1:52

1 Answer 1

  1. "望" and "臨"

According to "広辞苑", It seems "のぞ+く/む" are about "vision".

"覗く=臨く"(他動詞) is "to obtain clear vision by remove obstacles"

"覗く=臨く=覘く"(自動詞) is "go to the better position to see clearly"

"望む"(他動詞) is “watch from afar”

"望む"(自動詞) is "to face".

I found a blog which explains about "望" and "臨" http://ppnetwork.seesaa.net/article/485822214.html

Where the writer suggests

"みる" is about "visual perception" and

"のぞむ/のぞく" is about "from where to see,how to see".

  1. another word related with "nozo"

"のく/仰く"="あおのく/仰のく"="あおむく/仰向く"= "look above"

"のけぞる/仰け反る"="bend backwrd"

  1. "除"

On "広辞苑", It says "除く"="のぞく"="to remove" used to be pronounced as "のそく"(清音) .

"のく/退く"="step back/step down/call off"

There is a similarity about "obstacle" on both "徐/祛" = "to remove obstacles" and "覗" = "by removing obstacle to see"(peep hole) .

"退く"="step back" also sounds similar to "仰け反る"="bend backward by avoiding get hit".

There may share the same root yet I haven't found further information.

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