I've encountered many verbs with 「取り~」 inserted. Up till now I've treated 「取り+verb」 as separate vocabulary, but quite often, the definitions are not much different than the base verb alone. In certain uses, 「取り+verb」 seems more common and thus may be more natural to native speakers. I'd like to clarify how I should interpret these.

On dictionary.goo.ne.jp, this definition for 「取り」 is 「動詞などに付いて、語調を整え、改まった感じにするのに用いる。」which says that it just adds a formal feeling to a verb and doesn't change the meaning. But that doesn't seem like a complete explanation.

Some examples I've encountered:

仕切る → 取り仕切る

調べる → 取り調べる

揃える → 取り揃える

立てる → 取り立てる

付く・付ける → 取り付く・取り付ける

残す → 取り残す

戻す → 取り戻す

寄せる → 取り寄せる

  • 2
    改まった means formal, not colloquial. – aguijonazo Apr 29 at 16:15
  • Oops, you're right. Got it backwards. Fixed. – Hikonyan Apr 29 at 16:19

In general, the original verb covers a much broader range of meanings than its 取り counterpart. This means you would have to learn the specific sense of each 取り verb, anyways. So I would suggest you continue treating them as separate words.

Of the examples you listed, I would recognize only 取り揃える and, to a lesser degree, 取り仕切る as cases where 取り is used as a rather superfluous prefix. I might add 取り扱う in this category. This does NOT means the original verbs can be replaced with their respective 取り counterparts with a little addition of formality. Most of the times, they cannot. Rather, those 取り verbs might be replaced with their original versions without affecting the meaning much.

For example,


can be safely rephrased to:


The sole function of 取り in this example is just to sound formal and polite, I would say.

However, other verbs you listed have their own specific usages. For one, 取り戻す is not even close to 戻す. The original verb means “put something back to its original place”, whereas the one with 取り means “get something back (to you)”. The object moves in the opposite direction. 取り here clearly retains the original sense of “grab”.

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