I sometimes see と apparently being used as a verb prefix, e.g.:


Stop joking around.

Can somebody explain what the と does in cases like this?

  • 1
    But とぼける is a verb.
    – oals
    Aug 3 '16 at 6:31
  • 1
    @oals Yes, and と is a prefix attached to the base ぼける. Aug 3 '16 at 6:48

An ordinary Japanese learner should probably memorize とぼける and ぼける as two totally different verbs.

  • とぼける: to play dumb; to feign ignorance; to play innocent
  • ぼける: to play stupid (as a joke); to develop dementia

They seem to be etymologically related, but even native speakers do not regard this と as a prefix.

Etymologically, according to this article and this question, this と seems to be a rare prefix that somehow emphasizes the original verb. Unfortunately I cannot think of another example of と in this sense. But ど/ド is a common prefix used to emphasize the following word.

  • 1
    「とまどう」がありますね。あと「とぎれる」「とだえる」も同じだという説もあります。 Aug 4 '16 at 9:23
  • @broccoliforest おお、ありがとうございます。言われないとまったく気づきませんが…(^^;)
    – naruto
    Aug 4 '16 at 9:43

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