I found the sentence


translated as:

All the boys and girls in uniform got off the bus and passed through the gate.

What would be the difference with some equivalent expressions like: 身につける、or others ? Does 身を包んだ add some kind of nuance ?


2 Answers 2


I don't see any deeper nuance to the phrase 身を包む. It literally means 'to wrap yourself up', or in other words 'to wear'. To me, it simply conveys that they were dressed in uniforms. You don't mention the source but I am assuming it is from a novel perhaps? As with English, writers often use alternative ways to express something if they feel it is too prosaic. If that were the case here, instead of using 制服を着ている少年少女たち which is perhaps a little prosaic, the writer might have wanted to choose a more 'literary' phrase like 制服に身を包んだ.

  • Hi, thanks for the respons, yes it is from a novel. And thanks for the explaination
    – Makoto
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 17:06
  • I think there is an implication it's dressed up fancier than normal clothes. I don't think you would say Tシャツに身を包む for example except ironically. I've heard that because one would wrap 着物 around oneself that it derives from that, but not really sure about that one.
    – Ringil
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 22:23
  • 1
    Maybe but I think it's a stretch. Why would school uniforms be considered fancy?
    – kandyman
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 22:29

I found the question

日本語の用法に関する質問です。 服を着ることを包むと表現しますか?

and the following answer

まず「身を包む」という言い回しがあります。 「スーツで身を包む/スーツに身を包まれた」という表現がよく使われています。 それが省略されて「スーツに包まれた」という表現も比較的よく使われているようです。 ただし、これは「着飾る」という意味で使われます。 単に服を着るだけでなく、おしゃれをし、盛装しているということで 場の雰囲気を考慮した装いをしていることを示しています。

which translates roughly as

The phrase "スーツに身を包む" is often used. It seems that the expression abbreviated "スーツに包まれた" is also used relatively often. This is used to mean "dress up." Not only wearing clothes, but also dressing up in fine clothes, they are dressed in consideration of the atmosphere of the place.

So to sum up, it means "well dressed" alhough it would be often translated as "to wear"

source: https://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1283150307

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