Confusing: 脈 = vein, 血脈 = blood vessel

I don’t know the difference between a vein and a blood vessel. I’ve looked it up several times, but I always forget. I think the average person doesn’t know either. The fact that 脈 is called “vein” but 血脈 means “blood vessel” has confused me many times. How about renaming 脈 to “blood vessel”?


脈 is used in contexts outside of the circulatory system. I would be leery of teaching yourself it only means one thing. It’s the same in English. A vein of ore. Considering that vein a blood vessel would be weird. The alternative meanings are of course different in Japanese, but they’re there.脈

血脈 does have an alternate meaning as blood relative, but “blood vessel,” is very fair there.

It’s your call if you want to add “blood vessel” as a user synonym for “vein,” but I would not want WK to teach me a synonym that is too limiting for the use of the word.



Oh that’s interesting. Very similar to the alternative English usage, as in “a line of thought or action”.


There are also expressions that use 脈 .
For example 脈がある (I’ve seen this also as 脈あり, usually in a romantic context, like “I think I have a shot with her”) , or the opposite: 脈なし. This might be a metaphor originating in the meaning of “pulse” that 脈 has (like from a biological perspective, if you’re not dead you have a pulse etc), so if there’s no chances for you, the potential relationship is “dead”, “no pulse” :man_shrugging:



You should have learned 山脈 (mountain range), which if you look at from Google Earth/an atlas (do people still use atlases?), would appear as a kind of vein.

Leaves also have lots of little veins on them, but they are definitely not blood vessels. * shudders *


Interestingly the terms “vein” and “artery” (静脈 / 動脈), both being subclasses of the general term “blood vessel” (血管) in medical terms both use the kanji described by wanikani as “vein”. But I guess this is too much science for everyday language. :sweat_smile:


Or maybe they’re twilight vampires.

“I think I’ll have a shot of her”

I kind of thought of it as like “struck gold”, where you hit the rocks and if you succeed you’ll find whatever valuable “ore”. I have no idea :smiley:


yeah, this would have been my first reply, even if you see vein just as a medical term, a blood vessel can both be a vein or an artery, so it’s not identical with vein.


There are three types of blood vessel: arteries, veins and capillaries. So blood vessel is not exactly a synonym for vein.

If you don’t want to mix up the vocabulary terms, the one with two kanji has two words in English, the one with one kanji has just one word in English.


My advice? Forget the word meaning and synonyms for a moment and consider this:

Look at your wrist–see the layout of your veins? Now imagine this arrangement of veins as a mountain range superimposed as a satellite view. Sometimes mountains also have mineral deposits. You can mine these. They are also similar in that if you imagine the mountains translucent, you will see veins of deposited ores, branching out just like your own wrist.

Imagine these shapes in your head and look at the kanji again… looks kinda similar, no?

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As some of the other posts mentioned, 脈 seems to mean vein in more or a metaphorical sense, as those lines of blood you can see on your wrists (you generally can’t see arteries) that resemble lines or mountain ranges on a map. And it also means pulse for whatever reason.

so 血脈 becomes lines of blood, 静脈 becomes still lines, since the blood in veins moves more passively, and 動脈 becomes moving lines, since the blood in arteries is actively pumped


People use the word “vein” to refer to all blood vessels in everyday speech, regardless of the scientific distinctions.

You don’t have to be like “don’t forget your arteries and capillaries” when someone says “I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins.”

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I’d say a good amount of the population would know about arteries since most heart diseases seen in older adults are related to clogged or damaged arteries.

But yeah I guess people don’t really use them in everyday speech

watch your cholesterol everyone

Sure, of course people know about arteries and whatnot… But it doesn’t make it normal to use arteries in phrases that always use veins.

Or like, when someone is a body builder and their arms are “veiny.” I have no idea what type of blood vessels they would actually be.

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arteries are deeper in the body so they aren’t usually visible, and the blood vessels you can see on your hands/feet and on beefy people are indeed veins.

I’m guessing this is why veins are more commonly used in speech, since they’re actually visible

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Did you see the capillaries on that one? Oof!

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Not sure either as a native, first thing that comes up on google seems to indicate arteries and veins are opposites of the same function, and are both types of blood vessels:

Arteries are blood vessels responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the body. Veins are blood vessels that carry blood low in oxygen from the body back to the heart for reoxygenation

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My issue is with repeatedly inputting “vein” for 血脈, not “blood vessel” for 脈. Perhaps I should just add a synonym even though it’s not technically correct.