I was reading a sentence in a manga and the context used 滲みる to comment on something soaking into fabric. (actually, it was specifically 「滲みとる」, is that an ending I'm not aware of or an accent of た/て?) When I went to look into the use of this kanji, I found that it was listed as an alternative version of 染みる. I'm still wrapping my head around why alternative kanji are used, but, with this particular choice, is there any nuance to choosing 滲 over 染? Does it imply any kind of different meaning or way of thinking?

1 Answer 1


Different kanji allow for nuance, but also can be used to give a literary flare.

According to my 漢和中辞典, 滲みる describes water deeply soaking into something. 染みる describes something slowly soaking through something else.

  • 滲みる: 滲は水がしみ込むこと
  • 染みる: 染は、じわじわと、しみとおること

The nuance here seems rather subtle, but given what you've said, if it's just a matter of something soaking into the material and not all the way through, then 滲みる makes a good deal amount of sense.

Digging through a couple other of my dictionaries, it seems that しみる can also carry a sense of feeling a piercingly deep pain. And, superficially, it looks like 滲 can also carry this nuance more so than 染. It's a bit as if 滲 more easily expresses abstract notions of "soaking in" than does 染, which seems to be used a bit more literally (if you're going to compare the two).

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