Both ぞくぞく and ぞわぞわ seem to refer to trembling/goosebumps caused by intense emotions or coldness. Is there any difference between the two, though? My intuition is that ぞわぞわ refers more to goosebumps and that ぞくぞく is more like trembling, such as in:

  • 一瞬鏡に亡くなられた妹の姿が映ったと思って、ぞわぞわした。
  • 北海土の冬は寒さのあまりに一日中ぞくぞくしていて耐えきれない

Sample sentences would be much appreciated.

  • This is not a translation site. Without any evidence of what you've tried to work out about this yourself, that's how this most likely will get treated.
    – A.Ellett
    Aug 2, 2021 at 23:57
  • Well, I know. But there doesn't seem to be any sites neither in English nor in Japanese which illustrate the difference between the two. I phrased it that simply because I thought there was no need to complicate things but sure, I'll add some examples. Aug 3, 2021 at 12:22

1 Answer 1



  1. a feeling of cold
  2. trembling due to fear, excitement, nervousness


  1. noisiness
  2. trembling or goosebumps due to disgust, uncomfortableness, excitement

So the above are dictionary definitions, I think ぞわぞわ-1 is rare. (Usually noisy is ざわざわ)

I think your intuition is basically right. A few finer points:

  • As you can see, both can mean trembling. So in some cases they are interchangeable. There is an example ぞわぞわと悪寒が背筋を這昇った直後 from this site, where I think ぞくぞく is also possible.
  • ぞくぞく is more like chill, coldness; ぞわぞわ is more like creepiness (so in the above example ぞわぞわ is 'better' due to 這昇る = creep up).
  • ぞわぞわ is generally more negative. If you see a cockroach, it's ぞわぞわ (maybe ぞくっとした is possible, though. That means you are really scared.)
  • ぞくぞく can be positive. 明日から大学生だと思うとぞくぞくした = I felt chill to think I am going to be a university student from tomorrow. This means the speaker is positively excited about being a student. To use ぞわぞわ here is a bit strange, but that would indicate anxiety of the speaker.

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