I'm sorry if this question has been answered before, but I did not find a suitable answer. Please provide reliable link if that is the case.

I would like to know the differences between the transitive verbs :

  • 極める{きわめる}
  • 究める{きわめる}
  • 窮める{きわめる}

And also, for the intransitive verbs related :

  • 極まる{きわまる}
  • 窮まる{きわまる}
  • 谷まる{きわまる}

Could you provide some simple sentences to understand the meaning of each better ?

  • 極める is most used. 究める is used sometimes. 窮める is less used. 谷める is so difficult and most Japanese can’t read this.
    – Yamacure
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 7:24

1 Answer 1


According to goo辞書 says, きわま・る〔きはまる〕【極まる/窮まる】の意味

  1. 極{きわ}める/極{きわ}まる : (極める)これより先はないというところまで行き着く。
    • 富士山{ふじさん}の頂上{ちょうじょう}を極{きわ}める。

Achieving to the top of Mt.Fuji.

It is used in the supremum/infimum, the ultimate state.


I think 窮める is used most often in negative sentence like this.

According to this site, 極める・究める・窮めるの違いや使い分けとは? - 国語力アップ, they say 窮めるとは物事/状況が行き詰まる事.

  • 困難{こんなん}を窮{きわ}める。
  • 進退{しんたい}窮{きわ}まる

Getting stuck in the most hardest time/state

On the other hand, in some settings, it is used in affirmative way like No.4.

And, 極める is used in affirmative sentence.

  • 贅沢{ぜいたく}を極{きわ}める。

Spending the most luxurious moment.

  1. 残{のこ}るところなく尽{つ}くす。

    • 口{くち}を極{きわ}めてほめる

Praise with the great acclaim.


  • 真理{しんり}を究{きわ}める・窮{きわ}める

Studying truth of things to the full.

  1. 終わらせる。
  2. 決める。定める。

I think I have not used these meaning other than martial arts.

  • 関節技{かんせつわざ}を極{き}める。

Holding his joints to get submission.

According to this site「谷」はなぜ「たに」と「きわまる」の意味があるのか? : 常用漢字論―白川漢字学説の検証, 谷{きわ}まる is used in the same way as No.2.

  • 原文:人亦有言 進退維谷  
  • 訓読:人亦(また)言有り 進退維(こ)れ谷(きわま)る  
  • 翻訳:昔の人の言葉あり 「進退ともに窮まる」と――『詩経』大雅・桑柔


It explains they have an image of a hole, which changed into the getting stuck and would not move.

  • 4
    I think this answer, while very good, could be amazing if you described the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs. Since some of the words he listed are actually transitive/intransitive pairs, I think that it would be very helpful for the asker to learn beyond the scope of the question you have already effectively answered.
    – ajsmart
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 14:55
  • 2
    @ajsmart Thanks for reviewing and suggestion! I hope to, but I am not used to distinguish binary distinction of transitivity carefully. So, I wish some else help to answer that part somewhat...but, maybe why not. Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 11:08
  • d, d, downvoted...Where should I fix at first? Commented Aug 24, 2019 at 1:14
  • 1
    japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/52495/… Not the greatest explanation, but I think it's a good starting point.
    – ajsmart
    Commented Aug 24, 2019 at 3:19

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