What is the main difference between these 5 vocab words? I understand they all equate to something like a marsh or swamp, but do they hold any specific differences like marsh/swamp/bog do in English? (Admittedly I had to look up the differences, but they do exist.) I know [沼田]{ぬまた} refers to a rice field of some kind, but how does it differ from any other rice field?


Japanese is unparticular about those wetland terrains. Some words actually have formal definitions, only they are contradicting each other across fields on translations like this, proven to be not very useful either.

  • 沼【ぬま】

    The most basic word referring to marsh or swamp (I guess they are most general terms in English). The dictionary says "water shallower than lake (湖) whose depth is under 5 meter". The word is so strongly associated with the image of muddy pool, that where clear water is seen, such as Oze, are usually called 湿地 "wetland" or 湿原 "moor(?)" instead of 沼.

    In the figurative language, 沼 often carries the similar connotation to those of English swamp, morass, or mire, that means "inescapable difficult situation". It particularly has a sense as internet slang to mean "addiction" or "easily addictive subject". FWIW I've heard of オーディオ沼 or レンズ沼.

    沼にはまる get stuck in the swamp

  • 沼地【ぬまち】

    沼 and 沼地 is just like swamp and swampland. 沼 itself refers to the "pool" (where the ground is under water) but 沼地 the terrain generally consists of 沼 but maybe not entirely.

  • 泥沼【どろぬま】

    The word is mostly figurative than indicating the actual bog (泥炭地). Compared with 沼, which suggests personal predicament caused by a vicious cycle, it is rather likely to depict the situation many factors entangled to make everyone stagnant, such as the quagmire of the Vietnam war.

  • 沼沢【しょうたく】

    This is a mostly academic blanket term generally referring to shallow wetland. The dictionary definition is "water shallower than 沼 whose depth is under 1 meter". Also read ぬまざわ or ぬまさわ for proper names.

  • 沼田【ぬまた】

    Literally should be "swamp patty" or something but I don't really think it's used outside proper names.

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