Question about the usage ofそのさま and そのもの

I had a question about how both そのさま and そのもの are used. I’m trying to make the transition into monolingual dictionaries and I’ve noticed these two come up quite a bit after a definition as また、そのもの or また、そのさま.

A couple of examples:
例外 一般原則の適用を受けないこと。また、そのもの。
凶暴 性質が残忍で、ひどい行為をすること。また、そのさま。

Thanks in advance!


また、そのもの indicates that the definition includes things that whatever concept was described applies to. In this case, 例外 is defined as the concept of not being subject to a general principle, as well as actual things that are not subject to a general principle.

さま is similar to ありさま or 様子 etc. and means a state/condition/situation. 凶暴 is defined as doing something terrible, and また、そのさま indicates that it also describes a state, e.g. the state of doing terrible things. In other words, it can be used as an adjective to describe someone who does terrible things etc.


そのもの in definitions like the word in question is used to explain that the word can be used to refer to things. For example, 例外 means exception. 例外 can be used for the things themselves that do not conform to a general principle. It’s basically saying it can be used as a noun.

その様 is trickier. It’s used to say that it refers to a state of affairs. 凶暴 means brutal/atrocious. Because it says その様, that means that this word can be used to refer to a state of affairs that is atrocious/ferocious. It pretty much means you can use the word as a descriptor/adjective.


@nekoyama @NickavGnaro

Thank you both! That makes a lot more sense now. I’m still having a bit of trouble wrapping my brain around it, but I think I have the overall idea now. I think I just need to run across more examples now and try and piece together fully how they’re working.


The first time this stuff really clicked for me was for the word ツッコミ. A Japanese person (who has incredible English) explained the term to me:

And just to make it clear, tsukkomi has two meanings.

  1. a straight man; A type of person who acts like a straight man.
  2. a quip; a snappy response to a joke. Something a straight man would say.

After that I looked it up in a monolingual dictionary. If we look at the corresponding entry for the word in a monolingual Japanese dictionary, we get the following:


Rough translation: Slipping in interjections and observations toward the idiot (ボケ) in things like a two-person play (漫才). Furthermore, it (this word - つっこみ) is the person in that role (of slipping in the observations), or the contents of such conduct.

Once again we see that または、そのX pattern (except in this case, it mentions two things instead of just one). If you look closely, the X’s in this case correspond exactly to what the Japanese person told me: it can be the person or the contents of their sarcastic interjections (their quips).


様 is also just more academic than 様子 as well. Purely from the standpoint of dictionaries, dictionaries aimed at adults will use そのさま a lot more, while dictionaries aimed at kids will use 様子 a lot more (when both are basically describing the same thing). I remember noticing this a few years ago, and just chalked it up to being academic language.

As for the main question.

そのさま - That state (as observed, open to interpretation)
そのもの - That exact thing (not about observation. It is the exact thing being described)


So if I’m understanding what you’re saying, with 例外 as an example, また、そのもの would roughly mean “the/that exact thing that doesn’t accept the application of a general principle”? Not sure how good my translation is here, but something like that?

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例外 一般原則の適用を受けないこと。また、そのもの。
Exception - Something to which the applied general priciples cannot be given. Or something else exactly like that. (Basically)

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This might help as well (the definition of そのもの).

Now let’s go back to the Japanese definition for 例外.

The first sentence (一般原則の適用を受けないこと) ends in a verb nominalization, which is similar to English gerunds (verb + ing). So I would translate this as something like
“Not conforming to general principles.”

In the second sentence, it says, また、そのもの, which clarifies that you can use 例外 in place of the very thing which deviates from general principles. In other words, 例外 can be used in place of the very thing that is described by the first sentence (something not conforming to general principles). It can be used for the particular exception in question.

Hope that helps, and if you feel something unlocking in your brain that is not quite there yet, feel free to look back at my previous post as well! (I edited it to include a rough translation to hopefully tie things in a bit better.)

If you look back at my previous post for ツッコミ, because it specifies または、その…人、その…内容, I can use ツッコミ in place of people who do the sarcastic observations, as well as in place of the observations themselves. So you can say “Tsukkomis are funny people” and “Your tsukkomi was a hilarious observation.”

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Awesome, thank you so much! That makes a lot more sense now. I think just to double check I’m understanding what you’re talking about here -

Still on the topic of “exception” being the word we’re talking about here, if there was a rule that said “No running in the halls” but an exception was “You can run in the halls in an emergency”, with また、そのもの we know that 例外 can be used in place of “you can run in the halls in an emergency” so to speak (not literally), because it is an exception. If that somewhat makes sense. I think that’s where I’m at right now with how I’m looking at it. I think there’s somewhat of a disconnect here with me trying to go between the two languages lol. Either way, it’ll come with time if I’m still not completely understanding it.

I think that’s right! Given enough context, you can definitely use it that way. I’m imagining something like, “the one 例外 is running down the halls in case of an emergency.” Seems perfectly valid to me. Then after saying that, you can keep referring to this exception by saying その例外…

and that would refer to that exception (of running down the halls in the case of an emergency).

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Yes! Okay, that’s what I was trying to get at, I just couldn’t figure out how to completely get it out into words. Awesome, thank you! I’m getting plenty of immersion in, and I’m spending a good amount of time going through monolingual definitions so hopefully I’ll expose myself enough to it to slowly get it down.

I also feel the need to clarify that the definition is not saying that you can only use 例外 in place of a particularly well-established exception in a very specific context like yours. The definition is simply saying that 例外s instantiate two properties:

  1. Not conforming to general principles (from the first sentence).
  2. Being those things themselves.

So you can use 例外 completely generically, like 俺のルールには例外なんかないぞ (There are no exceptions to my rules.) You can use 例外 without a particular exception in mind.

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Okay, so I think I may have had an “a-ha” moment. What I’m getting from this is that 1. 例外 is simply, something that doesn’t conform to general principles, but additionally 2. it is also those very things that don’t conform to general principles. Basically, 例外 the word itself is 1. not conforming to general principles, but additionally, 2. it’s also the things that don’t conform to general principles. I kind of realize I’m just repeating what’s already been said… but I think why I was so confused is because I felt like that was just a given - but I realize now this is only because I already know what the word exception means and what it can be applied to.

Like for example, if I were to see “exception” in English, based on this definition I know that an exception is either “not conforming to general principles” or “the things themselves that don’t conform to general principles”, where in the first case we’d see that definition used when found in a sentence such as “There was one exception to the rule”, while the “second” definition (また、そのもの) would be referring to “He was allowed to run in the halls because it was an emergency” where him being able to run in the halls is an exception due to the circumstances. While “exception” isn’t used in the sentence, him being able to run in the halls would fall in the definition of exception.

Hopefully I got that right :sweat_smile:

By the way, I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out here, thank you.

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Yeah, I think you got it… I’m basing this off of when you said,

but I think why I was so confused is because I felt like that was just a given - but I realize now this is only because I already know what the word exception means and what it can be applied to.

This is exactly right. Japanese definitions always have to specify what it can be applied to. Things? States of affairs? People? (Edit: I think そのもの can be used for people too, because they were deliberately ambiguous so as not to rule out the kanji 者.) If it is a verb, the definition will typically end in a non-nominalized verb, too.

To be quite honest, I’m not entirely sure what I would make of the definition if it didn’t include the また、そのもの (if the entire definition stopped after the first sentence: 一般原則の適用を受けないこと). I think you might be right though…

I’m trying to see if I can find a clean example of a definition like that (with no confounding factors). I’ll keep you up to date if I find something like that.

But absolutely, the そのもの is saying that 例外 can be used as the actual things that are the exceptions. Just like for the definition of tsukkomi, その人、その内容 is specifying that the word can be used as the actual people or jokes themselves.

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Well, the thing is, I don’t think it’d be a huge deal if it wasn’t included. But by adding it, it gives a person who doesn’t know what the word means a better idea of how it can be used. Like for example, if 例外 for some reason wasn’t applicable to those things, I’d find out sooner or later through immersion or being corrected by someone. But having in mind that また、そのもの is included in definitions, seeing that it isn’t there (once again just hypothetically speaking that 例外 couldn’t be used in that case), well then I would know not to use it in those cases from the start because it doesn’t carry that definition. I mean I could be wrong, but that’s what makes most sense to me.

But yeah, let me know if you can find anything!

Thank you again!

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So I’ve been exploring my Anki cards and found a lot of goodies. I didn’t realize the extent to which how the word is used affects the structure of Japanese definitions.

Remember when I said:

If it [the word being defined] is a verb, the definition will typically end in a non-nominalized verb, too.

I actually think it’s not “typically,” but always. I have found no exception to this so far. Even if there are exceptions, it’s definitely not a coincidence.

Furthermore, for い-adjectives, most of the definitions I’ve seen so far are copular sentences (ends in である・だ・another い-adjective), which is completely suitable given that い-adjectives are copular in nature.

For words that can be used as na-adjectives, I’m often seeing そのさま, or some other obvious indicator that this word is a descriptor of states of affairs. (Your own question illustrates this - note how そのさま is not used for 例外, which is not a na-adjective, but is used for 凶暴, which is a na-adjective.)

Finally, I did find some examples of words for which all definitions end in a こと nominalizer.

成仏 (N, SURU)

(1)〔仏〕 煩悩(ボンノウ)を解脱(ゲダツ)し,悟りを開いて仏となること。

席替え (N, SURU)


逆転 (N, SURU, No-Adj)


裸 (N, No-Adj)


抜群 (N, No-Adj, Na-Adj)

This one is interesting, so let me put both J-J dictionary entries.
At first, I only looked at one definition. Here’s the first one:

After seeing that, I thought that it abided by my parameters, but then I looked at another dictionary. Here’s the second one:
(1) 多くの中で、特にすぐれていること。ぬきんでていること。また、そのさま。
(2) 程度が大きいこと。また、そのさま。

This is just like your word, 凶暴. They are both ことs and さまs. But 凶暴 is not a no-Adj, unlike 抜群 (this word). So I don’t think the monolingual dictionaries implicitly indicate whether something is a No-Adjective just by how they define it. Oh well…

These are all nouns. They are not also na-adjectives unless the entry clearly signals it (e.g.: by using さま as in 抜群 or 凶暴).

I’m not sure if there is anything else connecting these words. For instance, not all of them can take する, but if they can’t, then they can be used as の-adjectives. But this much might just be a coincidence due to a limited sample.

All in all, all I know with reasonable certainty is that if the definition ends in the こと nominalizer, then the word is a noun. So I think you are right, @josh, that the そのもの is doing more than just indicating that it is a noun (because we would have already known that for 例外 from the first sentence where it ends in こと).

From now on, pay attention to the form of the entry: it will vary based on whether it’s defining a verb, adverb, noun, na-adjective, some combination of the former two, i-adjective, but there is a system behind it all.

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You know, today’s my first day diving into monolingual transitions, and I’m already wanting to crawl back to the comfort of my bilingual dictionary. I’m currently only just “mining” definitions to increase my vocabulary in the scope of the dictionary but regardless, this is a huge help and I’ll be referencing back here from time to time. Looks like I got a long journey ahead of me here.

Thank you!


Haha, I always use both English and J-J monolingual. But that’s because the KireiCake (J->EN) dictionary with either YomiChan or Migaku is indispensable because it gives definitions of entire phrases that are often not entries in other dictionaries.

But it’s pretty impressive that you are already noticing things like そのさま・そのもの this early. On my first day of using monolingual dictionaries, I don’t think I noticed anything at all - the format was confusing and everything was so overwhelming. Keep at it - at this rate you’ll be teaching me some monolingual dictionary secrets soon (there are still some things I haven’t pieced together, so this really is possible…)