What is the aspect in the following example for the word 窺う?

  1. to await (one's chance)​ usually written using kana alone


    He watched for an opportunity to speak.

Does it mean:

  1. He watched for an opportunity, but it did not happen.

  2. He watched for an opportunity and he got one.

  3. Whether he had a chance to speak or not, cannot be inferred.

Is it possible to form sentences distinguishing between the situation 1. and 2. using the verb 窺う? What form would it take?

  • Interested both in terms of questioner and answerer but why write it in kanji if every dictionary says not to?
    – virmaior
    Sep 4, 2017 at 6:01
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    @virmaior it should be pretty clear why: because there are two verbs with different meaning and kanji. And I'm asking about this specific one, not the other. It's listed in the jisho.org under this kanji and I refer to the jisho.org. Also "usually" does not mean always. Actually I encounter this kanji pretty often (although in the third meaning, but it has the same remark). What is your suggestion?
    – macraf
    Sep 4, 2017 at 6:05
  • Use hiragana suggested by Japanese dictionaries? (dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/18017/meaning/m0u weblio.jp/content/%E3%81%86%E3%81%8B%E3%81%8C%E3%81%86 ) ? but maybe it's always written with kanji despite that ???
    – virmaior
    Sep 4, 2017 at 6:10
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    @virmaior Thank you. I will stick to the format I used originally.
    – macraf
    Sep 4, 2017 at 6:11
  • The answer explains "うかがっていた”. And your question is "うかがった”.I think it's different. I am not sure though, I think "うかがっていた” is an observation., "うかがった” is an expression. In such case, I think the answer is 2.
    – user25382
    Sep 5, 2017 at 7:10

2 Answers 2


It would mean No.3 because this うかがう means "watch for an opportunity" and we can't infer whether he had a chance to speak or not without more sentences.

  • 御回答ありがとございます。結論としては、No.3になのかも知れないですが、Macrafさんは”窺った”が事象内でどう広がっていくのかに関心があるようです。
    – user25382
    Dec 1, 2017 at 23:03
  • そうですか。事象内でどう広が‌​っていくのかというニュアンスがよく分からないのですが、端的に答えるとこういう答えになると思います。 Dec 2, 2017 at 3:53
  • 事象内でどう広がっていくと言う言い方は大げさかも知れませんが、例えば、ボクシングで"パンチを出すチャンスを窺った"とかにすると、本当に出すかは相手次第なのか、パンチを出さないにしても目線でフェイントを入れるとか、とりあえずパンチを出すとか色々あるのではないかなとそういう意味です。
    – user25382
    Dec 2, 2017 at 5:06
  • なるほど。でも「うかがった」だけでそんな細かいことを表現できませんよね。それを表現するには、文章を付け足す必要があるのではないでしょうか。 Dec 2, 2017 at 8:42
  • その前後の文章を踏まえたりした上でどういうアスペクトを持っているのかを回答にして欲しいのだと思います。まあ、そんなの決められないような気がするって思うのも普通な気がします。笑
    – user25382
    Dec 2, 2017 at 9:23

from goo:



1 すきまなどから、ひそかにのぞいて見る。「鍵穴から中を―・う」

2 ひそかにようすを探り調べる。「顔色を―・う」「ライバル会社の動きを―・う」

3 一部分から全体を推し量って知る。それとなくようす、状況を察する。

「意気込みのほどが―・われる」「その一斑 (いっぱん) を―・うことができる」

4 ようすを見て、好機の訪れるのを待ち受ける。「逃走の時機を―・う」

5 一応心得ておく。


6 調べ求める。調べ探す。



I think of the goo definitions, #4 gets your gist:

To wait in reservation of a good moment to intercede/arrive while viewing the situation.
(my attempt at translating this entry)

I certainly get the feeling that the word is describing the act of waiting in anticipation of an event or time, in a way that is not explicit or alerting. It implies a general sense of vigilance and of reserve. It does not necessarily imply that the subsequent action was successfully performed, but that the preparation of sensibility is being taken and achieved (such as waiting with tact, viewing in stealth, what have you) in order to obtain the result of moving into the next action (which in the case of your example, would be speaking).

EDIT: Wanted to expand because I feel I might not have answered the question in its entirety. I draw my conclusion not only from the meaning in entry #4 at goo, but as a combination of the other entries that pertain to this word. All of the meanings have a similar sense of 忍び寄る, or, to come creeping in opportunely. As I did state before, it does not give me any inference regarding what happens next. Therefore, I think the aspect of the sentence is like your choice #3, where the chance to speak or not cannot be inferred and needs to be more explicitly stated. To get the meaning of choices #1 and #2, you'd want to state it:

He watched for an opportunity to speak, but it did not come.

He watched for an opportunity to speak and then he spoke.

  • 1
    Thanks for answering! I think it’s well analyzed in meaning. I read couple of answers and this one is close to my impression. But I’m not sure if OP and other people interested in are totally pleased with this answer. I am a matchmaker this time.
    – user25382
    Dec 1, 2017 at 23:22
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    Could not even tell if the word in question has actually been in your active vocabulary so long.
    – user4032
    Dec 5, 2017 at 4:22
  • @l'électeur not sure if compliment or...
    – psosuna
    Dec 5, 2017 at 17:09
  • ^ @l'électeur さんは、例文の「彼は発言の機会をうかがったけど、機会が来なかった。」「彼は発言の機会をうかがって言った。」が不‌​自然だっておっしゃってるんだと思いますが・・・(‌​特に二つ目の例文)。
    – chocolate
    Dec 6, 2017 at 13:19
  • 1
    – psosuna
    Dec 6, 2017 at 16:57

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