This is found in the novel 空の境界(上), from "奈須 きのこ", the whole sentence is:


What does 戯んでいた mean? At first I thought it would be a verb ending in ぶ or む, but it turns out it's not really a verb, I guess it's a noun. I found out that for it to be a verb it should be "戯れる", so it's clearly not a "ている" form in the past.

  • 4
    Please, always try to include the full context and specify what kind of material you are reading. If this is from a proofread novel from a famous novelist, people are likely to assume it's an obsolete rare kun reading. If this is from a casual blog post, it may be a simple typo.
    – naruto
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 2:14

1 Answer 1


拵えが立派な細い刃物を手にして戯んでいたわたしは、 いつのまにか指のあいだを深く切り裂いていました。

Probably I would have guesstimated the word 戯{あそ}んでいた is the past progressive form of 戯{たわむ}れる at first for reading the full sentence.

Usually 戯{たわむ}れる is more of "frolic"(ex. puppies chasing/tickling around) than "play" : 遊{あそ}ぶ (I mean playing baseball could be very serious as a profession, right?)

So, the author chose 戯{あそ}んでいる is appropriate to draw the agent seeing the beautiful knife and making sure its performance and they happened to cut their interdigital space deeply.

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