As far as I can tell つぶやく is invariably translated as 'to mutter/murmur' in bilingual dictionaries, and yet hardly ever do I see it used in a context where I feel this translation seems appropriate.

This maybe isn't the best example but it's the one that inspired me to ask. Two girls have just run into a shop to escape from a dog:

"That was a close call"
muttered Maruko breathing heavily.

To me mutter/murmur is something you do under you breath, probably to yourself. It doesn't seem to fit here.

So I'm wondering what Japanese speakers think of when they hear the word つぶやく, not just in this sentence but also more generally.

1 Answer 1


To me, a Japanese-speaker, 「つぶやく」 means "to speak in low/small voice (mostly, but not always, to oneself)". So, I personally I have no problem with the verb choice in the line in question.

To me, 「つぶやく」 is not a very special word as far as meaning and usage. It does not have any subtle nuances IMHO.


If I were asked to replace the verb by another in that line, I would say:

「まる子は肩{かた}で息{いき}をしながら小声{こごえ}で言{い}った。」 or


But still, 「つぶやいた」 sounds best to me.

  • えっと・・・同じ回答が二つあるよ!
    – chocolate
    Dec 30, 2016 at 14:21
  • ホンマや。PCの調子イマイチやねん。
    – user4032
    Dec 30, 2016 at 14:55

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