What is the difference between 転ぶ【ころぶ】 and 落ちる【おちる】?

Here is a nice entry about おちる The differences with おちる (落ちる、堕ちる、墜ちる)

...but I have not found an explanation of the difference between 転ぶ【ころぶ】 and 落ちる【おちる】 as it occurs in this sentence:


which I would unidiomatically translate as

About 40% were injured by tumbling and about 30% by dropping.


The wwwjdic entries for each verb give quite a number of suggestions, but I was wondering how to imagine the situations leading to the different kinds of injury. For instance, does one use 転【ころ】ぶ for "falling down stairs" and 落ちる【おちる】 for "falling off a ladder"?

  • 1
    After 落ちる, you usually end up somewhere else while you stay in the same place when 転ぶ.
    – sundowner
    Oct 6, 2022 at 2:38

1 Answer 1


Definition 2 for 転ぶ here defines it as 'to lose one's balance and fall down', while 落ちる is defined as 'to naturally or suddenly move from above to below'. While technically you could say 落ちる is involved in 転ぶ - it is after all gravity pulling down after you lose your balance - in practice they're pretty separate. There's more of an element of height in the ladder compared to the stairs.

One more example: if you tripped and fell through a window, the initial tripping is 転ぶ, while what happens after you go through is 落ちる.

  • 2
    Wonderful imagery. 😄 Oct 5, 2022 at 20:12
  • 2
    Consider also the word associations -- 転【ころ】ぶ is closely related to words like ころころ, ころがる, etc. that involve actions like "tumbling" or "turning end over end". Oct 5, 2022 at 20:15

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