In the opening to the popular anime Fairy tale, they say this:

魔法は 普通に売り買いされ 人々の生活に根づいていた。

This is translated in the subtitles as:

Magic is traded like common goods. It has become a part of daily life, And there are people who use magic to make a living.

I can understand most of this, but what I'm having trouble with is the 根づいていた part at the end. As far as I can find, the only reading of 根 that would make sense would be ね; as in the root of something. So 人々の生活に根づいていた might somehow mean that magic had become the root of the people's livelihood.

I could be completely off base. What confuses me most though, is what づいていた might be since I have no idea what it is and can't seem to dig up any results for a verb that looks like this.

What does it mean?

  • 4
    "Magic has taken root in the people's livelihood". The づいて part is likely rendaku on ついて.
    – nhahtdh
    Nov 27, 2014 at 16:52
  • 6
    You'll find this compound verb in most dictionaries with kanji: 根付く. つく is used for (one of) its literal meaning(s), "attach" etc. So 根付く -> ""take root". Here it is used figuratively, similar like in English, "ingrained in", "become an important part of" etc. Perhaps you know thi 付く from phrases such as 血のついた服 - "bloodstained clothes; clothes stained with blood".
    – blutorange
    Nov 27, 2014 at 18:15
  • 2
    There is a verb [根]{ね}づく (also written 根付く), and that subtitle seems to be an almost best translation. You are right in that this verb is derived from two morphemes 根 and つく, but you shouldn't take them separately (I remember being taught "Don't break down the word 'understand' into two" when I first learned English :) ).
    – isayamag
    Nov 27, 2014 at 18:37
  • 2
    Anyway, a boundary between kanji and kana doesn't necessarily mean a boundary of words. Getting used to this would be helpful.
    – isayamag
    Nov 27, 2014 at 18:37
  • 3
    @ColeFudge Judging by your comment, it appears you'll have to learn about 〜ている as well.
    – user1478
    Nov 27, 2014 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


根付いていた。In this case, 根 means tree's root. If tree's root grew deep into the ground, the tree can bear against strong wind.

根付いていた means two thing are tightly coupled.


It means pine tree has deep root under the ground. therefore it has good resistance against strong wind. (It also the pint tree and the ground are tightly coupled.)

In general meaning


Magic and peoples daily life are tightly coupled. (because magic is widely used in that world.)

  • don't know why someone voted this down.. this is a good explanation. It's metaphorical in the OP's question "things are rooted together" or "entwined"
    – sova
    Mar 8, 2015 at 21:01

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