I know one can say タバコを飲む or タバコを吸う from seeing both uses in the dictionary. What are the differences between the two?

  • I think I've never heard someone say タバコを飲む...
    – Skye-AT
    Sep 26, 2021 at 18:30
  • 1
    飲む is also listed by dictionaries with this meaning.
    – flowsnake
    Sep 26, 2021 at 20:35
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    デジタル大辞泉 includes the line タバコについては「のむ」「すう」どちらも使う under the listing for のむ, but I too haven't heard のむ used for smoking.
    – Leebo
    Sep 26, 2021 at 21:27
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    I haven't heard のむ in casual conversations, either, but it may still be used actively in novels.
    – naruto
    Sep 27, 2021 at 0:52
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    For what it's worth (maybe not much!), I read a fair amount of Japanese fiction from the early twentieth century. In those works, 吸う is used for tobacco very rarely, and 呑む (usually written that way rather than 喫む or 飲む) a bit more often. But variations on 煙草を吹かす seem to be even more common than 煙草を呑む, and in most cases the context makes it clear that this is being used as a general term for the act of smoking, rather than specifically for "exhaling" tobacco smoke. (These references usually involve cigarettes, but occasionally pipes or cigars.)
    – Nanigashi
    Sep 28, 2021 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


According to this chiebukuro answer, the use of のむ is dated.

はい、昭和40年代ごろまでは、「のむ」はまだごくふつうに使われていたと記憶していますし、 古い人ほど「のむ」を使い、「吸う」は新しい言い方が次第に優勢になって定着したものだと思います。

(昭和40年代 = 1965 - 1974)

As given in the comments, I personally never heard it used either.

To me, のむ sounds sort of natural with 水たばこ (obviously due to the word 水). But I know nothing about how Hookah works or have never seen it. Anyway if you mean cigarettes, のむ never sounds natural.

  • 1
    I actually just encountered this in 『吾輩は猫である』「これが人間の飲む煙草{たばこ}というものである事はようやくこの頃知った。」
    – Eddie Kal
    Dec 16, 2021 at 20:25

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