How do you express in Japanese that something is generally claimed to have a certain property without positioning yourself to clearly as to the veracity of the claim?

For example, how would you express the following sentence in Japanese:

Reliquaries are the supposed bones of saints.

  • ....と思われる or ...と推測{すいそく}される...etc?
    – user7644
    Jun 22 '16 at 14:01
  • 1
    I like "〜という説があります". Also ...らしい
    – Locksleyu
    Jun 22 '16 at 15:43
  • 1
    Also, maybe not applicable to your example, but perhaps relevant to your question, そう has a possible connotation similar to "supposedly" (reporting hearsay). Jun 22 '16 at 16:38
  • と噂される・という噂もある・という言い伝えもある are other more distant possibilities. And to clarify what @WeirdlyCheezy said, ~だそうだ
    – Brandon
    Jun 22 '16 at 17:34
  • 3
    Also ...とされる for "allegedly" which may fit better in certain cases (detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q141925824)
    – Locksleyu
    Jun 22 '16 at 21:07

I think all the comments provide good examples. In my experience though, the most commonly used in this situation is also the simplest one: 言われている (or 思われている as well, like in the first comment that I initially somehow missed).

Checking on weblio for example, you can find the following example:

He's supposedly 85 years old: 彼は 85 歳だといわれている.

Now, obviously this is just one example since as many people commented there are other ways to express that. However, as I said in my experience this is very commonly used. After all, if you think about it, "it is supposed that" and "it is being said that" bear a similar, if not the same, meaning.

In this fashion your sentence could be translated as:


EDIT: I changed the word 舎利 I originally used for reliquaries with 聖遺物 as suggested by @Brandon in a comment. I agree that this is a more appropriate choice in this context..supposedly. :)

  • 舎利 is strongly connected to Buddhism, no? And saints are (often) Abrahamic so it seems an odd, if interesting, fit. Who's to say though without any more context.
    – Brandon
    Jun 23 '16 at 3:59
  • Yeah I had exactly the same feeling. However, I was not able to find any more appropriate word.
    – Tommy
    Jun 23 '16 at 4:00
  • 1
    If we're going with an Abrahamic context, 聖遺物?
    – Brandon
    Jun 23 '16 at 4:14
  • Seems exactly correct. There is even a wiki page: ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%81%96%E9%81%BA%E7%89%A9 that seems to confirm that this is what we are talking about.
    – Tommy
    Jun 23 '16 at 4:20

“Supposedly” can be translated in various ways depending on the context, for example:

多分, 恐らく, 想像するに, and 推測するところ.

Oxford Advanced English Learners Dictionary defines "reliquary" as:

a container in which a relic of a holy person is kept.

Kenkyusha's Readers Plus English Japanese Dictionary defines "Reliquary" as 聖骨箱.

If we follow both of the above definitions, the given line would be translated as:


舎利 means bones, but it's specifically applied to the bones of Buddha and Buddhist saints' bones.


The word [supposedly] is often used in an ironic (slightly sarcastic) manner.

Both of Wiktionary's sample sentences contain this idea.


  • People from other planets have supposedly visited Earth in flying saucers.

  • According to your testimony, you were supposedly at home watching TV when the murder occurred.

Synonyms == allegedly, purportedly

2 of 11 sample sentences in Alc contain this idea.


  • supposedly egalitarian society === 建前{たてまえ}としての平等{びょうどう}主義{しゅぎ}の社会

  • cheat someone by charging $__ for supposedly free visits === 《イ》サイトの閲覧{えつらん}を無料{むりょう}だとして(人)をだまして_ドルを課金{かきん}する

The latter half of Alc's definitions contain this (ironic) idea: [ 建前{たてまえ}上は[としては]、一応{いちおう}は、一般{いっぱん}に信じられているところでは、~といわれている ]

Another way to express this idea is [... とされている ] or [ ...ということになっている ]

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.