606 - めく

JLPT N1: めく (to show signs of; to take on the air of; to appear)

We can attach めく to NOUNS in order to say that something "has the air of NOUN" or "is showing signs of NOUN" or "appears to be NOUN," and so on.

An example:


3月に入って、少しずつめいてきましたね。
さんがつ に はいって、 すこし ずつ はるめいて きました ね。
Since we’ve gotten into March, it’s been getting more and more like spring, hasn’t it?
Literally: “March + に + enter (and), + little by little (=a little + at a time) + spring + show signs of / take on the air of (and) + came + ね.”

春 (はる) means "spring," and 春めく (はるめく) means something akin to "become like spring" or "take on the air of spring" or "show signs of being spring."

As you can see in the above example, めく conjugates like a godan verb [Group I verb]. You'll typically see it in て-form (めいて) or た-form (めいた [=plain past tense]). We have more examples of both of these below...



彼はめいた笑みを浮かべて、部屋を出て行った。
かれ は なぞめいた えみ を うかべて、 へや を でて いった。
With a mysterious smile, he left the room.
Literally: “he + は + was enigmatic or puzzling / was wrapped in mystery (=riddle / puzzle + took on the air of / showed signs of) + smile + を + expressed / looked (a certain way) (and), + room + を + left / went out of (=exit [and] + went).”




アドバイスをしたつもりが、非難めいて聞こえてしまったようだ。
アドバイス を した つもり が、 ひなんめいて きこえて しまった ようだ。
I was trying to give him some advice, but it appears that he took it as criticism [took it the wrong way].
Literally: “advice + を + did + intention + が, + criticism + take on the air of (and) + (regrettfully) heard + it seems (=ようだ).”




あの人はお酒を飲むとお説教めいたことばかり言うので、部下に嫌われている。
あの ひと は おさけ を のむ と おせっきょうめいた こと ばかり いう ので、 ぶか に きらわれている。
When she drinks, all she does is lecture everybody, so all of her employees [subordinates] hate her.
Literally: “that + person + は + alcohol + を + drink + と + took on the air of a lecture (=preaching / lecturing + took on the air of) + thing + only + say + because (=ので), + subordinate (people) + に + is being disliked / is being hated.”



How often do people use めく?

...is a difficult question to answer.

How often do people go around sticking めく onto random nouns? Rarely.

But you do see めく attaching to certain nouns from time to time in written Japanese.

For example, in the examples above we had both 春めく and 謎めく, right? Both of these combinations are common enough that they show up in some Japanese-English dictionaries.

The following are entries from 研究社 (けんきゅうしゃ), which is a major Japanese-English dictionary publisher:

春めく(はるめく
show signs of (the coming of) spring; become springlike; look like spring
- 先月から見るとだいぶ春めいてきた. (The weather is much more springlike than it was last month.)

謎めいた(なぞめいた
puzzling; enigmatic; mysterious; steeped in mystery

I thought it was interesting that they didn't put 謎めく or, conversely, didn't put 春めいた. I suppose it's because it's common to say 春めいて or 春めいた, but usually when 謎 connects to めく it will be in the form 謎めいた.

In any case, the main point I wanted to make in this lesson is that if you're thinking about attaching めく to a noun that you've never heard a Japanese person attach it to, don't. You'll probably sound weird. (← Story of my life.)