Acceptable translation of 車内

Hi everyone, I have a quick question today, hopefully it’s not too stupid. I just got to 車内 in wanikani, and it’s really bothering me that wanikani only accepts something like “inside of car” as an acceptable meaning. In English, I would typically say car interior. I’m probably going to add “car interior” as a synonym, but I just wanted to make sure there isn’t some sort of nuance that I’m missing. Would I end up making things harder for myself if I learned 車内 as “car interior?” I have seen that it can also refer to the inside of a train as well.

しゃ ない [1] 【車内】
電車・バスなどの内部。車中。 :left_right_arrow: 車外

Seems fine to add it, to me. Not much nuance there.

Trains have cars too, you know.

But basically it’s inside that general category of vehicle. Here’s the google image results.

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Cool, thanks. Just wanted to make sure before I begin to drill something into my brain.

I have had similar frustrations with some of the “acceptable meanings” too!
I tend to think of “car interior” in English as the parts inside that you can touch - seats, dashboard etc; whereas I understand 車内 to be all the space inside the vehicle, not just the bits you can touch. But I don’t know if there is any difference according to the dictionary.

I think I probably added shanai for this. The meaning is pretty self explanatory if you know the kanji so no need to worry about the exact English at all.

Sorry for the late response. My only concern was that I wanted to confirm that 車内 refers to the interior of a car, because the meanings of the two kanji could also be interpreted as the engine bay, or inside the trunk for instance. Can it also refer to these parts?

I don’t see why it couldn’t, even if most people wouldn’t necessarily imagine that without prompting.

But if you describe some item as 車内にある, to me, basically anything goes as long as it is somewhere within the car. Obviously you could get more specific than that, but it would be strictly true.

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“Car interior” is a bad translation for this.
First of all “car interior” has its own name (車の内装 or 車内装 or 車のインテリア),
second of all there are so many cases where 車内 refers to something intangible:

  • 車内サービス (in-car service)
  • 車内の様子 (the situation in the car)
  • 車内での会話 (the conversation in the car)
  • 車内で音楽をかける (play music in the car)
  • 快適な車内をご用意する (make it pleasant in the car)

A synonym could be “in-car” instead.

That’s specifically the upholstery, which is obviously the most common meaning of “car interior,” but there’s also just the literal interpretation of the interior portion of any car, which is what I believe he took it to mean, not the upholstery.

Synonyms aren’t specifically about being the best translation, they’re for covering the bases of possible meanings. As long as it’s a plausible interpretation, I wouldn’t argue against adding it.

Ah I see, I guess you’re right.
In my head “car interior” = upholstery (and nothing else).

Also, in my experience I haven’t seen 車内 being used to refer to something in the engine bay. However I’ve seen it used for the trunk if the trunk is in the same room as the seats.
(e.g. in a regular car the trunk is 車内, but for a large bus the trunk compartment underneath is not necessarily 車内. If you call it 車内 you will likely have to specify that you mean the trunk compartment and not where the seats are).


Yeah, the bounds of the definition that the dictionary gives and the bounds of what people imagine when you say the word might not align perfectly. The dictionary, in an effort to be concise, might allow for a more liberal interpretation than any person would ever go with in an actual conversation. I wouldn’t recommend using it that way, but the dictionary definition doesn’t eliminate it as a possibility so I left it as a tepid “possibly strictly true but not how people would expect you to use it.”

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