Both of these words seem to mean "to shake". From what I got:

振る is "higher frequency" shaking.

揺る is more like a swaying or rocking motion, "lower frequency".

Is this correct? An explanation would be great.

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    You sure you meant to type [揺]{ゆ}る, (which is rarely used except in passive and compound verbs,) and not the common [揺]{ゆ}する or [揺]{ゆ}らす?
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


I'll need a native speaker to back me up on this one, but from what I came up with during a brief search, 振る more commonly describes a motion that originates from oneself (and this could include a non-human animal). For example:

牛は尾を振った. The cow switched its tail.

私は首を横に振った. I shook my head.

彼女は銃を振った. She waved her gun.

On the other hand, 揺る and 揺する seem to have the nuance of one thing causing another thing to shake or sway. For example:

がたがた揺られながら乗っていく. To have a bumpy ride.

彼らの船は波に揺られていた. Their ship was at the mercy of the waves.

藤の花が風に揺られている. The wisteria flowers are being swayed by the wind.

彼は息子の肩をつかんで揺すった. He shook his son by the shoulders.

Another important distinction is that, although both are transitive verbs, 揺る is used significantly more in its passive form, 揺られる。A brief search of sample sentences on Weblio containing 「揺られ」yielded over 400 hundred results, whereas a search for 「揺っ」and 「揺すっ」resulted in less than 30 combined.


Sorry, but in the original post, I meant to discuss the frequency of motion you were asking about. And again, I would need a native speaker to back me up on this, but it doesn't seem like either verb is restricted to a particular frequency of motion, per se. Which is to say, someone could be waving quickly or slowly and it wouldn't alter the usage of 「振る」. Similarly, someone could shake or be shaken more or less violently, but it wouldn't alter the usage of 「揺る/揺する・揺られる」.

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    揺すった <-- それ、「揺る」て動詞の活用したものじゃないです
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 13:01
  • 揺するは揺ると違う意味だという事ですか?
    – TFlo83
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 13:36
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    (I just meant to say "揺すった is not a conjugated form of 揺る" cos you gave a sentence 彼は息子の肩をつかんで揺すった as an example of 揺る.)「揺る」って形で使うことがないので、「揺する」と「揺る」が全く同じ意味・ニュアンスかどうかはちょっとわかんないです。でも「揺る」「揺する」「揺らす」の3つを受け身にして、「揺られる」vs「揺すられる」vs「揺らされる」にすると、ニュアンスや使い方が違ってきますよね。
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 13:47
  • Oh, I didn't mean to present it as a conjugated form of 揺る。I meant to show examples of both 揺る and 揺する. But I can see why it was confusing. I will edit the post accordingly.
    – TFlo83
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 13:56

[揺]{ゆ}る appears in dictionaries, but I'd say it's an old Japanese. As a word "to shake", [揺]{ゆ}する is common in today's Japanese.

I kind of agree with DD_Owl's opinion "振る is 'higher frequency' shaking. 揺する is more like a swaying or rocking motion, 'lower frequency'."

振る has a nuance that you shake something relatively small with one hand (of course not always), while 揺する has a nuance that you sway something relatively big holding it with both hands.


よく振ってからお飲みください。= Shake well before drinking.

犬がしっぽを振った。= The dog wagged its tale.

バットを振る = swing a bat

[看護師]{かんごし}は子供たちを[腕]{うで}に[抱]{だ}いて揺する。= A nurse takes children in her arms and rocks them.

ぶらんこに[座]{すわ}る子供を揺すった。= I pushed the child in the swing.

ダンサーたちは,音楽のリズムに合わせて体を揺すっている。= Dancers sway to the rhythm of music.

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