Every now and then I hear 待ちに待った, as in:

待ちに待ったライブ a long-awaited concert

I started wondering if this pattern can apply to other verbs, and it certainly seems to, if Google is any indication. I found instances of 望みに望んだ, 祈りに祈った, and even things like 飲みに飲んだ.

Question A: Can I use this pattern with any verb showing intent? Is there a particular nuance behind it, or does it simply mean "to [verb] and then [verb] some more"?

Question B: For the linguists in the room (y'all know who you are), how is the に classified in this pattern? Is it the same に as in 買いに行く?

2 Answers 2


It seems to just be for emphasis, as this sort of "emphasis-repetition" is common in other languages as well. I've only heard it a handful of times, in regards to foods:

のど渇きに渇いています → I am extremely thirsty
お腹すきにすいた → I was really hungry

Question A: Not sure of any nuances of it or in which situations it is appropriate (either grammatically or otherwise).

Question B: Seems to be the same に. As talked about in this post, this form (X連用形+に+Y) means "do Y for the purpose of X"; 'Go' for the purpose of 'buying', etc. So this would seem to be in line with the emphasis; 'wait for the purpose of waiting', 'hope for the purpose of hoping', etc.

  • デジタル大辞泉 classifies this に differently. Definition 13 says:(動詞・形容詞を重ねて)強意を表す。「騒ぎ—騒ぐ」while definition 5 says: 動作・作用の目的を表す。「見舞い—行く」「迎え—行く」 dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/に/#jn-166083
    – Axe
    Commented Apr 21 at 2:27

I agree with istarsci's answer. But there may be a little bit to add.

There seems to be a phonological restriction. That is, this construction does not seem to be allowed with verbs whose stem is only one mora. The following examples are ungrammatical:

  • ×得に得る
  • ×来に来る
  • ×しにする
  • ×寝に寝る
  • ×見に見る

There is also a fixed expression used with negation:

泣くに泣けない 'so sad/bad that one cannot even cry/crying will not help'

  • @istrasci Thanks for the edit, but * is a linguistic convention to indicate ungrammatical forms. Sorry that I haven't explained it. But your edit looks okay. I don't need to revert it.
    – user458
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 14:50
  • Oops, didn't know that. But in the meta board, this topic "decided" which characters would be most beneficial for notation. Might want to stick to that so further posts don't get edited (and your semantics with it). meta.japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/169/…
    – istrasci
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 15:49
  • @istrasci Thanks for the link. I just took a look at it. It does not seem to me that it was decided. Is it really? I left my opinion to it.
    – user458
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 16:33
  • 1
    The expression with negation is more productive than your answer might suggest. 見るに見れない, 聞くに聞けない, やめるにやめられない etc. are possible.
    – dainichi
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 0:00

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