親しい Primary meaning?

I know this is a tough one, but I figured I should bring it up since I think it can be a bit…problematic, and I’m curious what others think.

“Intimate” for 「親しい」 is, I think, technically correct, if we’re just going by the dictionary. But having this English word be the primary meaning, I feel, gives the wrong impression of the Japanese, with all the baggage it carries with it: As a native English speaker who grew up in the US, “intimate” is almost always used as a euphemism for “sex” or something close to it:

“intimate relationship”
“intimate knowledge”
“getting intimate”
“intimate with”
etc.

I had to have multiple people offer me their perspectives on 親しい in order to understand where it fits into things (probably the ”simplest” explanations would be 親しい友人 or 幼馴染み).

Anyway, it seems like “close” is a better way of contextualizing it in English, though of course there are so many other ways “close” is used.

Anyway, maybe it doesn’t carry the same connotation in the UK, Australia, or other places though. Thoughts?

cf. Vocabulary Item: 「親しい」,
WaniKani Community Topic: お気に入り例文 – favourite examples <3

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Context matters

I use and hear it in each context regularly here in England

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Instructions unclear. Had sex with all my 親しい友人.

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I’m not a native English speaker but that one doesn’t imply sex at all to me, it means that the person has first hand, deep knowledge of the matter at hand.

There are plenty of examples here for instance, none of them are particularly sexual: INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE collocation | meaning and examples of use

I mean, at least I hope:

They dare to give their views about the necessary treatment without an intimate knowledge of the patient.

Intimate can certainly be used euphemistically for sexual things but I see it used for its literal meaning regularly in (somewhat formal) English.

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I use and hear it in each context regularly here in England

@pembo: Thank you for confirming! I suspected it may be different elsewhere. :slight_smile:

Instructions unclear. Had sex with all my 親しい友人.

@plantron: TMI… :laughing:

Intimate can certainly be used euphemistically for sexual things but I see it used for its literal meaning regularly in (somewhat formal) English.

@simias: Yeah, that’s the key.

I have and do see “intimate” used according to the dictionary definition regularly, but only in a formal sense (e.g. academics, journalism, law), and nearly exclusively in writing (apart from the news, and that’s mainly involving video of court proceedings and politics).

On the other hand, in daily conversation, it’s used entirely euphemistically, at least in my experience. That’s what threw me off.

Thanks so much for sharing your perspective!

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