It seems they both mean busy. Can someone tell me what the difference is between them?

  • 8
    bustling vs busy.
    – oals
    Oct 12 '16 at 12:52

They are slightly similar but Nigiyaka also has the meaning of lively or "genki". Isogashii feels a little more like a negative way to say busy, while nigiyaka might seem more positive.

For exemple, isogashii would be used for work(negative) while nigiyaka could be used for a party or a parade as meaning crowded/busy(positive)

Another more practical difference would be that isogashii can be used for people, and nigiyaka for events/places. I'm busy(isogashi) / the office is busy(nigiyaka)

  • 忙しい is busy.

  • 賑やか ejje.weblio.jp › 英和辞典・和英辞典 › 賑やかの意味・
    そこはとても賑やかです。 It was very lively there. - Weblio Email例文集.
    ( 実に賑やかな男だ He is a lively fellow―a merry fellow. - 斎藤和英大辞典. )
    ( 人の様子が賑やか of a person being cheerful ) - ...

We usually don't think of  賑やか as busy.

----- 賑やか is busy in the sense of (a parade, shopping center, ... (rather than a person) ... being) lively, bustling, full of life and colors, cheers, activity, mirth, ... .

A busy street (or a busy office) is not  賑やか if it's grey and depressing.

  • When a person is described as 賑やか -- it's a description of his/her personality.

  • When a person is described as 忙しい  -- it's a description of how he/she is at the moment.

A person who seems / appears busy all the time (like personality) "a restless / fidgety person" is せわしない人 ( 忙しない人 ) or せわしい人【忙しい人】 -- (the former is perh. Kansaiben).

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