I find the difference between 「広める (他動詞) 広げる (他動詞)」 and between 「広まる (自動詞) 広がる (自動詞)」 to be complicated.

Can someone explain?

  • Are you asking specifically about the difference between 「まる・める」 on the one hand, and 「がる・げる」 on the other? Or are you asking about the difference between 自動詞 and 他動詞?
    – user1478
    Aug 23, 2013 at 14:07
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    yes i understand 自動詞 and 他動詞. I'm asking specifically about the difference between 「広める・広げる」 on the one hand, and 「広まる・広がる」 on the other.
    – alicef
    Aug 23, 2013 at 14:09

3 Answers 3


The 大辞泉 entry for 広がる explains the difference between 広がる and 広まる in the 「用法」 section:


To paraphrase, 広がる describes something spreading out naturally, like a scenic view or a wildfire, whereas 広まる describes something spreading as the result of an intentional attempt to spread it.

広がる also has the meaning of physically opening up or being unfolded.


This is how I think it is:

広げる・がる vs. 広める・まる

I think to 広げる is to spread out something like a blanket or a mat or your arms, the reach/extent is increased.

For 広める I think it is to spread things like stories, gossips, and the reach/extent increases because the same information is recreated in other places.

But how about "to broaden vocabulary"? I think it belongs to 広げる, the vocabulary stays in one person's mind, and its extent is increased (within itself) instead of being reproduced to other people.

How about spreading a virus? I think both 広げる and 広める can work.

If you are thinking of the spread of a particular influenza virus, then we can think of that virus as an (one single) abstract notion that increases like a blanket. (this is the 広げる case)

We also can think of how it spreads by replicating and creating new copies of itself. (this is the 広める case)

  • Using these verbs for the spread of a virus sounds wrong to me. I think only 伝える・伝わる works for this. Do you have any sources that this is valid?
    – istrasci
    Aug 25, 2013 at 16:22
  • @istrasci Apart from some example sentences from alc, I don't. This is just my impression, I thought of posting my intuition here to check if it was correct by observing up/down votes.
    – Flaw
    Aug 26, 2013 at 1:19
  • OK, maybe I'd just never heard those used before. Still sounds weird to me, though.
    – istrasci
    Aug 26, 2013 at 14:46
  • Graphical answers such as this are fabulous, they help not only to understand the concept clearly but to retain it in your memory more easily. Thank you very much
    – jarmanso7
    Oct 9, 2019 at 6:29
  • @jarmanso7 Please don't take this as a definitive answer. This is just my own thoughts and may not be the truth. As with most internet sources I recommend you to confer with other sources before coming to a definite conclusion.
    – Flaw
    Oct 9, 2019 at 7:39

「広める・広げる」 are transitive (他動詞), 「広まる・広がる」 are intransitive (自動詞). It's really as simple as that. 広める and 広まる have to do with 'spreading', so the first is 'to spread (something) out' and the second is 'to be spread out' (or 'to spread out' without an object). 広げる and 広がる have to do with 'widening' or 'expanding', so the first is 'to widen (something)' and the second is 'to grow wider'.

  • This answer seems to go against the first two comments above, but perhaps it was posted before the comments were?
    – istrasci
    Aug 25, 2013 at 3:46
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    it was posted before the comment and is not answering my question at all. im asking the difference in 「広める・広げる」 and the difference in 「広まる・広がる」, so please remove such answer is just more confusing.
    – alicef
    Aug 25, 2013 at 5:33
  • Oh, I think I misunderstood your explanation for what you were asking for. 'Pologies.
    – Sjiveru
    Aug 25, 2013 at 18:06
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    @aliceinwire, you state in a comment "I'm asking specifically about the difference between 「広める・広げる」 on the one hand, and 「広まる・広がる」 on the other." That is exactly what this answer is explaining. If you state your question clearly, you have a better change of getting the answers your want, and you won't be wasting people's time.
    – dainichi
    Aug 26, 2013 at 1:38
  • @dainichi What you are stating is a problem of English interpretation and for that there is comment and edit option as other people have used.
    – alicef
    Aug 27, 2013 at 8:13

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