In Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei second season, episode 4, the main character while discussing how humans tend to be distracted by side events, thus not paying attention the the main story, says this:


and later on this:


In the subs, the first case doesn't seem to consider とかく in any way, while in the second it's translated as "prone to".

I found that とかく indeed can mean "being apt to; being prone to; tending to", as confirmed also in this answer, but according to Jisho it can also mean "at any rate; anyhow; anyway", which I think is the third meaning on Weblio.

So my doubt is how I should read those sentences: "Anyway humans get interested in things outside the main story", or "Humans are prone to get interested by things outside the main story"? Is there a way to discriminate, or is it ambiguous?

1 Answer 1


The basic meaning of とかく by itself is "at any rate" or "anyhow". It's cognate with とにかく. Etymologically, とにかく/とかく means "this and/or that".

とかく is commonly used with ~がちだ, ~くなりやすい, etc., and in such cases, とかく by itself is a guiding adverb that indicates the expression corresponding to "apt to" is upcoming (and perhaps adds a small emphasis). とかく by itself does not mean "apt to", but it works as a hint that the writer will talk about a (usually bad) habit, tendency or something. You may have heard もし on its own doesn't mean "if ~" or あたかも on its own doesn't mean "just like ~". It's the same here.

However, the guiding function of とかく is strong enough that it is sometimes used without explicit ~がちだ, etc. In such cases, you may choose to think the meaning of "apt to" is built into とかく itself. Still, since とかく is usually used with a bad habit/tendency, in my opinion, it's better not to forget the basic sense of "at any rate" or "whatever" even in such cases. For example, とかく in とかく世の中は金がかかる sounds to me like "no matter what you want to do".

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