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Special Expressions for Coverings

This is a short lesson to cover several specialized expressions that describe the state of being covered by something. Mostly, we will focus on the differences between 「だらけ」、「まみれ」 and 「ずくめ」.

Using 「だらけ」 when an object is riddled everywhere with something

「だらけ」 is usually used when something is riddled everywhere. It generally carries a negative connotation. As a result, you'll often see 「だらけ」 used with expressions like 「間違えだらけ」, 「ゴミだらけ」, or 「埃だらけ」. There is no conjugation rule to cover here, all you need to do is attach 「だらけ」 to the noun that is just all over the place. You should treat the result just like you would a regular noun.
Using 「だらけ」 to describe the state of being riddled everywhere by something
  • Attach 「だらけ」 to the noun that is covering the object or place
    例) 間違え → 間違えだらけ (riddled with mistakes)
    例) 埃 → 埃だらけ (riddled with dust)


(1) このドキュメントは間違えだらけで、全然役に立たない。
- This document is just riddled with mistakes and is not useful at all.

(2) 携帯を2年間使ってたら、傷だらけになった。
- After using cell phone for 2 years, it became covered with scratches.

※Notice how the 「の」 particle is used to modify since 「だらけ」 functions like a noun.

(3) この埃だれけのテレビをちゃんと拭いてくれない?
- Can you properly dust this TV completely covered in dust?

Using 「まみれ」 to describe a covering

「まみれ」 may seem very similar to 「だらけ」 but there are some very important subtle differences. First, it's only used for actually physical objects so you can't say things like 「間違えまみれ」 like you can with 「だらけ」. Plus, you can only use it for things that literally cover the object. In other words, you can't use it to mean "littered" or "riddled" like we have done with 「だらけ」 So you can use it for things like liquids and dust, but you can't use it for things like scratches and garbage.

The grammatical rules are the same as 「だらけ」.

Using 「まみれ」 to describe a covering by sticking
  • Like 「だらけ」, you attach 「まみれ」 to the noun that is doing covering.
    例) 血 → 血まみれ (covered in blood)
    例) 油 → 油まみれ (covered in oil)
  • You can only use 「まみれ」 for physical objects that literally covers the object.
    例) 間違えまみれ (not a physical object)
    例) ゴミまみれ (doesn't actually cover anything)


(1) 彼は油まみれになりながら、車の修理に頑張りました。
- While becoming covered in oil, he worked hard at fixing the car.

(2) たった1キロを走っただけで、汗まみれになるのは情けない。
- It's pitiful that one gets covered in sweat from running just 1 kilometer.

「ずくめ」 to express entirety

The 「大辞林」 dictionary describes exactly what 「ずくめ」 means very well.

名詞およびそれに準ずる語句に付いて、何から何まで、そればかりであることを表す。すべて…である。 「うそ―の言いわけ」「いいこと―」「黒―の服装」「結構―」

In other words, 「ずくめ」 describes something that applies to the whole thing. For instance, if we were talking about the human body, the expression "is [X] from head to toe" might be close to what 「ずくめ」 means.

In actuality, 「ずくめ」 is an expression that is rarely used and usually with a color to describe people completely dressed in that color. For example, you can see what is meant by 「白ずくめの従業員」 in this 朝日 article.

Grammatically, 「ずくめ」 works in exactly the same ways as 「だらけ」 and 「まみれ」.

Using 「ずくめ」 to describe something that applies to the whole thing
  • Attach 「ずくめ」 to the noun that applies to the whole thing.
    例) 白 → 白ずくめ
    例) いいこと → いいことずくめ


(1) 白ずくめ団体は去年ニューズになっていた。
- The organization dressed all in white was on the news last year.

(2) 女の子と共通の話題ができて、自分の体も健康になる。いいことずくめですよ。(from www.de-sire.net)
- A common topic to talk about with girls is able to be made and one's own body also becomes healthy. It's all good things.

This page has last been revised on 2006/6/28

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