I have heard both of these in several contexts and I have having trouble understanding the difference in meaning and connotation.

I would like to know the difference between 様々 and 色々and when to use each one.

1 Answer 1


Etymologically speaking, いろいろ is 'full of colors', and さまざま 'various in one's appearance or figure', but this does not give us a reasonable answer. Answers and comments about the difference between these confusing words, which are found on the Internet, assert that いろいろ puts more emphasis on the greater number of things, while それぞれ on the differences of various things. This may be true but in most cases, both are interchangeable without much difference. My answer to your question is that both of these words are interchangeable in almost all cases. It seems to me difficult to discover uninterchangeable examples such as いろいろと vs. xさまざまと and いろいろ話す vs. xさまざま話す. But as a Japanese writer, I don't like to use these words (色々、様々) in Kanji but in Hiragana, and I prefer いろいろ to さまざま, because the former sounds to me soft and the latter sounds hard or noisy. This sound symbolism of mine may coincide with the assertion that いろいろ is a little colloquial and さまざま is usually used in written Japanese. The following is an example of my own making. (x unacceptable)


  • Could you please clarify the source of the last paragraph? You said "the following assertion" without quoting a source.
    – Eddie Kal
    Mar 25, 2021 at 4:35
  • 1
    Why did you bring それぞれ into it? That is likely to add to OP's confusion.
    – istrasci
    Mar 25, 2021 at 15:43

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