Sorry for the "what is the the difference" question, but my usual sources didn't give me a satisfactory answer (「同じです。」...).

From the ways I've seen them used, there seems to be some difference in meaning though.

My understanding is that びっくり implies a sudden surprise like a jumpscare, whereas 驚く is a more "calm" surprise, as in "I am surprised that X is the case".

Am I reading too much into the usage here?

What confuses me though is 「驚いて飛び上がる」 (Though I can see why 「びっくりして飛び上がる」 would sound somewhat redundant).

2 Answers 2


びっくりする is more informal and sounds more casual/colloquial than 驚く.


What confuses me though is 「驚いて飛び上がる」 (Though I can see why 「びっくりして飛び上がる」 would sound somewhat redundant).

びっくりして飛び上がる doesn't sound redundant to my native ear. びっくりして飛び上がる sounds more casual and colloquial than 驚いて飛び上がる. I would expect to see/hear 驚いて飛び上がった in writing or formal speech, and びっくりして飛び上がった in daily conversation.

  • I see. So you would say they mean exactly the same?
    – user40476
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 14:42
  • 2
    @Garbaz 意味は同じです。少なくとも現代日本語では。In modern Japanese, they mean the same thing.
    – chocolate
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 5:54

According to dictionary.goo.ne.jp

Definition of びっくり 1 (「吃驚」「喫驚」とも当てて書く)突然のことや意外なことに一瞬おどろくさま。「急に肩をたたかれてびっくりする」

2 わずかに動くさま。びくり。多く、否定の語を伴って用いる。 「―ともする若衆ぢゃあねえ」〈伎・名歌徳〉


1To be surprised from unexpected or sudden things for an instant.

2 To barely move (Move just a little). Commonly accompanied with the negative form.

Examples: https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/en/びっくり/#je-103152

Definition source: https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/びっくり/#jn-185375

Definition of 驚く


1 意外なことに出くわして、心に衝撃を受ける。びっくりする。感嘆する。「宇宙の神秘に―・く」「父の博識に―・く」

2 はっと気がつく。 「ほととぎすけさ鳴く声に―・けば君に別れし時にぞありける」〈古今・哀傷〉

3 目が覚める。 「あまたたび言ふ声にぞ―・きて見れば」〈枕・八〉

(To suddenly realize something that the speaker was not conscious)

1To encounter with something unexpected, to receive a shock in heart. To be surprised (びっくり). To admire.

2Sudden realizing.

3To wake up (Open eyes)

Examples: https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/en/驚く/#je-8753

Definition source: https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/驚く/#jn-32198

Almost the same thing.

As I can see 驚く has negative connotations as well, you are surprised at something that is not subjectively good.

  • Your example links seem to be broken
    – user40476
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 21:53
  • Thank you! These definitions seem to line up with my understanding, at least in the different nuances. 驚く just is a bit broader than I thought (encompassing びっくり).
    – user40476
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 21:59
  • I fixed the links, thank you
    – Monyo Akn
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 22:00
  • 1
    You should notify that the latter two are an obsolete meaning.
    – user4092
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 5:18
  • 2
    @Garbaz (2) in びっくり and (2)&(3) in 驚く are obsolete.
    – chocolate
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 14:50

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