What is the difference between 積もる 【つもる】 and 溜まる 【たまる】? I've found the verbs used like this:

  1. 洗濯{せんたく}が溜まる{たまる}。

  2. 雪{ゆき}が深く{ふかく}積もる{つもる}。

In this context, are these verbs interchangeable? Can I say 3 and 4?

  1. 洗濯{せんたく}が積もる{つもる}。

  2. 雪{ゆき}が深く{ふかく}溜まる{たまる}。

N.B. I will consider the usage of 積もる 【つもる】 and 溜まる 【たまる】 in sentences 1 and 2 correct (since I found it in textbooks while studying for N3), but if you have any doubts please let me know.

Thank you.


4 Answers 4



洗濯(物)が溜まる is a very common way to say "to have a lot of clothes to wash". It implies you have to wash that laundry soon.

If you do want to emphasize the physical aspect of the pile of the laundry, 洗濯物が積もる may be technically OK. You might say 「洗濯物が山のように積もっていて(or 山のように積んであって)、ドアが開けられない!」 when the laundry is physically blocking the door :)


雪が積もる is more common, and it means a certain area is uniformly covered by snow after a snowfall. If you see a layer of snow on a car after a snowy day, you can say "車の上に雪が積もっている". You can modify this sentence with adverbs like 深く, たくさん, いっぱい, 少し, etc.

雪が溜まる (or noun 雪【ゆき】溜【だ】まり) refers to the localized, irregular accumulation of snow, due to wind or other environmental/topographical reasons. If you see remaining snow under the car, several days after the snowfall, then you can say "(まだ)車の下に雪が溜まっている". If there's a lot of such snow, you can say たくさん/大量に/いっぱい溜まっている, but not 深く溜まっている.

The difference between "埃【ほこり】が積もる" and "埃が溜まる" is the same (埃 = dust). 積もった埃 is seen on a flat floor, and 溜まった埃, behind a bookshelf or in my PC.



Mostly used for things that fall from above that you have no control of. Think of something accumulating on top of something.

  • 雪{ゆき}が積もる。
  • 塵{ちり}が積もる。
  • 積もった怒り{いかり}が爆発{ばくはつ}した。

You could say 埃{ほこり} as well, but 塵{ちり} is the most common.


Think about something filling up a container from the bottom.

  • お風呂{ふろ}に水{みず}が溜まる。
  • 貯金{ちょきん}がまる。
  • ストレスが溜まる。
  • 何か入{い}れ物{もの}などの下{した}に溜まる。
  • 心{こころ}のリミット/限界{げんかい}の下から溜まってくる気持ち{きもち}。

Incidentally, there's also 募る{つのる} for things that increase, grow or accumulate abruptly or forming a steep heap.

  • 恨み{うらみ}が募る{つのる}。

溜 is composed with 氵(さんずいへん; water/liquid) + 留 (to stay). [...が] 溜まる implies that something collected/accumulated/built up should have streamed/flowed.

積 is composed with 禾(のぎへん; grain) + 責 (to charge the debt piercingly after lending for a while) and means to pile crops carelessly. [...が] 積もる indicate that something is simply piled/accumulated with no expectation.

  1. 洗濯(物)が溜まる。
  2. 雪が積もる。
  3. 洗濯(物)が積もる。
  4. 雪が溜まる。

As for 洗濯(物), both sentence #1 & #3 means that you have lots of clothes to wash. Sentence #1 indicates that you feel the need to wash, whereas you only refer to the situation that the dirty clothes are piled up on the floor or some place in sentence #3.

As for the sentences about 雪, you describe the situation that the snow piles up, for instance, on the road or the roof in the sentence #2. In the sentence #4, the snow also piles up but on the place where it should not like the drain.

溜まる is also often in the situation that you feel frustrated because you don't expect it to accumulate.

仕事でストレスが溜まった。'I got stressed at work.'

慣れない土地での生活で、疲れが溜まる。'I'm tired from living in a completely new place.'


No, you can't say neither 3 nor 4.

In my experience of daily life, usage of 溜まる is mostly for water, money, and undone tasks (like 洗濯(物), 洗い物, 仕事, 宿題, etc.), whereas 積もる is mostly for 雪 and 埃. Just like Will has explained.

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