I have found a question regarding these words here:

たたく versus ぶつ in a JLPT question

Which mostly deals with idioms, however.

So far as I understand it 殴る means somewhat violent beating and punching. What about the other two?

There are questions like this on the Hinative and the other Japanese sites, but I'm having trouble comprehending the answers and making a good distinction between the synonyms. Here are similar threads if these are of any help:




2 Answers 2

  • 叩く is a neutral word that can be used also with inanimate objects, such as a button, a drum, and a keyboard. It's not necessarily violent nor strong, so you can safely say 手を叩く ("to clap"), 肩を叩く ("to tap/massage one's shoulder").
  • 殴る is a definitely violent and offensive verb meaning attacking someone with a fist or a blunt weapon. It's usually used with animate objects, but someone really mad may do 画面を殴る, 壁を殴る, etc.
  • ぶつ is relatively uncommon among the three, and is almost always used with animate objects. It's not necessarily that violent, but implies a strong hit, anyway. For example 親父にぶたれた sounds more "educational" to me than 親父に殴られた. You can also say 転んで膝をぶった.

hmm... the stackexchange link you posted has a top answer that seems pretty straightforward to me. I will try to rephrase it to (hopefully) make it clearer:


"butsu" means to lightly spank, to swat, or to smack someone/something gently, 
as in a tiny, open handed swat. It doesn't have to be on the butt, and doesn't
necessarily cause pain.


"tataku" most commonly equates to "hit" or "tap", and in the case of 尻 
it means to give someone a spank, or many spanks. But you also use this particular
word when talking about hitting inanimate objects, such as drums, doors, desks, and so on.

殴る is the most violent of these words, and means to punch or strike someone/something with a fist or hard object. Using this word implies an intent to cause pain, injury, or damage.

There are further nuances to these words, but these are the most common, and the ones I'm most familiar with.

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