In 楽しみにしています, does 楽しみ come from appending the み suffix to 楽しい, or does it come from the 連用形/V-stem/Masu-form of 楽しむ? I.e. Which of the following is it:

A. 楽しい→楽しみ
B. 楽しむ→楽しみ

Appending the み suffix refers to generating nouns from い-adjectives such as:

  • 高い→高み
  • 深い→深み
  • 明るい→明るみ
  • 赤い→赤み
  • 暖かい→暖かみ
  • 厚い→厚み
  • 弱い→弱み
  • 強い→強み
  • 甘い→甘み
  • 苦い→苦み
  • おもしろい→おもしろみ

Of note is that process above generates み-nouns from い-adjectives as opposed to being generated from verbs, and is capable of generating み-nouns from words that do not have a related む-ending verb (I.e. there is no おもしろむ→おもしろみ).

However, many of the above seem to have a corresponding verb which, of particular note, contains a -m- sound which could be related to the み suffix generation rule above:

  • 高める・高まる
  • 深める・深まる
  • 赤める
  • 暖める・暖まる
  • 弱める・弱まる
  • 強める・強まる

It then seems that these may be possible processes (taking one of the ~める verbs as an example):

mi suffix chart

In this hypothesis, the verb is the origin. Some unknown mechanism (1)(Verb to Adj) generates a い adjective, and another mechanism (2)(Verb to Noun) generates a み-noun. Following this, a relationship between the adjective and the noun develops (3)(Adj to Noun). Then, this new mechanism (3) is extended to adjectives that do not have a corresponding verb containing a -m- sound, which is mechanism (4).

Comparing mechanism (2) to the 終止形 to 連用形 conjugation rule, we note that it is also of a similar type, that is to say that it is a process that is "Verb to Noun". E.g. 笑う→笑い.

In another hypothesis, I take the adjective to be the starting point. Where after (1') it gets a む to become 深む (Which may be an old verb form. See: Rare/Obsolete verb forms and How do 自他 triplets of related verbs work?) and then goes on to conjugate normally to 連用形 to get the み ending. As above, the association between the adjective and noun (3') is formed and is extended (4') to adjectives that do not go through (1'):

enter image description here

This gives me a suspicion that there might exist a verb-like む morpheme hidden in the history of the words that contemporarily do not have an explicit -m- sound in order for them to conjugate to a 連用形 containing み such that the processes A and B (right at the beginning of this question) are actually underlyingly the same process.

So restating the question, what is the path to take to get to 楽しみ? Is process A of the nature of (4) in the diagram?

  • Can you maybe include more information about this み suffix you mention? – Earthliŋ Nov 28 '16 at 7:58
  • Thank you for the edit. Of note is also that 高み and 深み may be "generated" from things like 高む (root of 高まる・高める) and 深む (root of 深まる・深める). So the suffix ~み may be related to the 連用形 of a corresponding verb ending in む. – Earthliŋ Nov 28 '16 at 11:40
  • @Earthliŋ I have edited it after more thought. The initial question was not well developed. – Flaw Nov 28 '16 at 12:54
  • Hm... I don't really understand the question now. I would have thought that adjectives (like 深い) are the starting point and that there was an auxiliary verb(?) ~む that attaches to the stem of such adjectives (to give 深む "to deepen"). The meaning of this auxiliary verb would be "to become [adjective]". The 連用形 of this auxiliary verb could now be fossilized as the suffix ~み (with a slightly different meaning). – Earthliŋ Nov 28 '16 at 14:35
  • @Earthliŋ that means that I might have misidentified the starting point. – Flaw Nov 28 '16 at 14:37


I was recently looking into the etymology of the term 畏{かしこ}まる. Shogakukan's 国語大辞典 traces this to 畏{かしこ}む, and notes that only the 連用形{れんようけい} is found in the oldest textual appearances. The entry provides two ancient quotes, one from the 古事記{こじき} and one from the 日本書紀{にほんしょき}, both using the form かしこみて. It seems possible that this みて ending may represent a stage in the lexicalization of み, where み derived originally as a conjugated form of the む auxiliary verb, but み then developed uses that are independent of this origin.

む (from which み and also まる and める derive) expresses senses of appearance and seeming. I suspect there are two more possible (probable?) cognates here: suppositional む (source of the modern volitional ending), and regular verb 見{み}る which some dictionaries list as cognate with 目{ま・め}.

A similar suffix is modern びる, as in terms like 古{ふる}びる and 大人{おとな}びる. This derives from classical ぶ. I suspect that this may be a shift from む, as a /m//b/ shift does crop up here and there in Japanese (c.f. the Tama River in western Tokyo, the upper reaches of which are also called the Taba River; also Tōhoku-ben where たびに is rendered as たんびに; and classical verb 浴{あ}む that became modern 浴{あ}びる).

Current State

In modern Japanese, the む auxiliary verb has largely disappeared, been partially superseded by まる and める as verb-forming suffixes, and み as a noun-forming suffix. These all come from む, but they are now independent, so you might have a word that can be changed to take one of these endings, but it might not necessarily take the others -- such as 面白い, which can take み but not まる or める.

Looking at your diagrams, I must confess some confusion, so please comment if my post does not answer your question.

  • What about 楽しみ? Did it occur after the disappearance of the む auxiliary (I.e. 楽しい→楽しみ was the path taken using み as a noun forming suffix) or did it occur when む was active (I.e. 楽しい→楽しむ→楽しみ). In modern analysis, do we say it was formed by み as a noun-forming suffix or by verb-conjugation of む? – Flaw Nov 29 '16 at 8:22
  • @Flaw: Digging around, 楽しむ appears in sources like the 平家物語 from the 1100s, and the 海道記 from 1224. However, 楽しみ seems to pre-date this, appearing in the 源氏物語 from 1008. This might suggest that み came first. However, 親しむ appears in the 今昔物語 of the early 1100s, while 親しみ appears in the 平治物語 of the late-1100s, early-1200s. Then again, 愛しみ appears in the 古今和歌集 of 913, and 愛しむ appears in the 三宝絵詞 of 1034. Both 慎み and 慎む appear in the 源氏物語. I can't find any clear evidence of み or む coming first. Presumably, む came first and み derived from that, but a back-formation is possible. – Eiríkr Útlendi Nov 30 '16 at 0:48

The noun 楽しみ comes from 連用形 of the verb 楽しむ.

For many verbs, their 連用形 can become nouns. For example:

手伝う --> 手伝い
親しむ --> 親しみ
返す   --> 返し
調べる --> 調べ
泣く   --> 泣き

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.