Zuibun haru-meite-kita. (Surprisingly, it’s starting to look a lot like spring.)

Situation 1: Eric Sere and his girlfriend, Yuri, step outside together.

エリック: ずいぶん春めいてきたなあ。

ゆり: 春めくというより、もうすっかり春でしょ。桜もすぐ咲きそうじゃない?

Erikku: Zuibun haru-meite-kita nā.

Yuri: Haru-meku to iu yori, mō sukkari haru desho. Sakura mo sugu sakisō janai?

Eric: Ah, surprisingly, it’s starting to look a lot like spring.

Yuri: Not starting to, it’s already completely spring, no? The cherry blossoms also look like they’re about to bloom, don’t they?

The verb めく works as a suffix that attaches to a noun and turns it into a verb that relays the idea of “showing signs of” or “having the appearance of.” Therefore, when we use 春 (はる, spring) to replace “X” in the structure “Xめく,” like in Situation 1, the result is 春めく, which describes the rise in temperature, the appearance of blossoms and change in air that spring brings. The term tends to be used in written Japanese and while you may sometimes come across an 秋めく, it’s not likely that you’ll see the verb used with 夏 (なつ, summer) or 冬 (ふゆ, winter).

Other nouns often used with めく are: 謎 (なぞ, mystery), 皮肉 (ひにく, cynicism/sarcasm), 冗談(じょうだん, joke), and 言い訳 (いいわけ, excuse). These terms, however, are more often used in their ta-form to modify other nouns and express their state:

彼女(かのじょ)は謎めいた微笑(びしょう)を浮(う)かべた。 (A mysterious smile came across her face.)

彼(かれ)の皮肉めいた言い方(いいかた)にはいつも腹(はら)が立(た)つ。(His sarcastic way of speaking always makes me angry.)

Situation 2: Two colleagues are talking about the recent rash of panic-buying.

芝: 先日はトイレットペーパーや紙おむつがスーパーから消えて、大変でした。

ティエン: この社会には金の亡者がうごめいていますからね。転売屋が大儲けしたらしいですよ。早く転売禁止法を作って欲しいですね。

Shiba: Senjitsu wa toiretto-pēpā ya kami-omutsu ga sūpā kara kiete, taihen deshita.

Tien: Kono shakai ni wa kane no mōja ga ugo-meite-imasu kara ne. Tenbaiya ga ōmōke shita rashii desu yo. Hayaku tenbai kinshi hō o tsukutte-hoshii desu ne.

Shiba: The other day, toilet paper and disposable diapers just disappeared from the supermarket, it was terrible.

Tien: Money-grubbers run rampant through our society. It seems resellers are making a killing. I wish they’d quickly make a law prohibiting resales.

The Xめく pattern isn’t used exclusively with nouns. The terms ざわめく (to be astir), ゆらめく (to flicker) and きらめく (to glisten), come from the onomatopoeic words ざわざわ (noisily [from people talking]), ゆらゆら (swaying/rocking) and きらきら (sparkling) respectively.

彼の言葉(ことば)に聴衆(ちょうしゅう)がざわめきだした。(His remarks got the audience buzzing.)

夜空(よぞら)には星(ほし)がきらめいていた。(The stars appeared to sparkle in the night sky.)

Bonus Dialogue: Ms. Aoyama talks to her senior colleague Ms. Gray about her boyfriend.

青山(あおやま): グレイさん、藤田(ふじた)さんってご存(ぞん)じないですか? 今(いま)を時(とき)めくIT社長(しゃちょう)なんですけど。実(じつ)は私(わたし)の彼が、その人(ひと)と偶然(ぐうぜん)バーで知(し)り合(あ)って、「ぼくの会社(かいしゃ)に来(こ)ないか」って言(い)われたみたいなんです。

グレイ: あら、良(よ)かったね。やっと働(はたら)く気(き)になったのね。

青山: それが…。社長からの直接(ちょくせつ)のスカウトなのに、彼、断(ことわ)ったんですよ。「酒(さけ)の席(せき)でスカウトされて入社(にゅうしゃ)するなんて、プライドに関(かか)わる」って!

グレイ: プライドねえ…。あなたに生活(せいかつ)を頼(たよ)っているのは、彼のプライドに関わらないの?

青山: 彼は「仕事(しごと)に男(おとこ)も女(おんな)も関係(かんけい)ない」という意見(いけん)なんです。私にも「遠慮(えんりょ)しないで、仕事がんばれ」って言うんです。

グレイ: まあ、それはそうなんだけど、彼が言うと、何(なん)だか言い訳めいているなあ。

Aoyama: Ms. Gray, you don’t know Mr. Fujita, do you? He’s the president of a rather prosperous IT company. My partner happened to get to know him at a bar. Apparently, (Mr. Fujita) said, “Won’t you come to [work at] my company?”

Gray: Wow, that’s good. At last he’s got back that desire to work.

Aoyama: Well … although he was scouted firsthand by the president, he turned it down. He said, “Being scouted to join a company at a drinking party like that, it affects my pride.”

Gray: Pride, eh? I wonder if it affects his pride to have to rely on you for a living.

Aoyama: He said, “It doesn’t matter if the man or woman works.” He tells me, “Don’t hold back, do your best at your job.”

Gray: Well, that’s true, however, when he says it, it sounds like he’s making excuses.

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