Differentiating 否定 and 否決

I’m having trouble remembering which is which, because “denial” and “rejection” are too close in meaning and there’s no real hints in the mnemonics either.

Does anyone have a great mnemonic for distinguishing 否定 from 否決, please?


否定 is a general word for negation. It can also be used to say things like 暴力を否定する which is like “to repudiate/disavow violence.” Basically to go against it. But as I noted before, it’s a very general, all-purpose word for negation. A “negative form” in grammar is 否定形.

否決 has a very specific meaning. It means rejection of a proposed motion or bill in a legislative body. It’s not use for general negation or rejection. If you keep words like 議決 (resolution; decision; vote) and 可決, the antonym, (approval; adoption (of a motion, bill, etc.); passage) in mind, that will probably make it easier to remember.


I haven’t learnt these words yet, but looking at the kanji…

  1. You can remember rejection coz it has a water radical in it, so imagine that you are crying because your motion/bill got rejected.
  2. As for denial… hmm, so if you squint, the second kanji looks similar to the foot kanji, so you can think of someone stamping their foot in denial, firmly saying NO! I DENY IT!

I struggle with the same two words XD. Good to know I am not the only one. My approach might be super lazy, but it has helped me a bit. I know how to read them, so 否定 has てい, so tei->de(n)i, which leads me to “denial”.

So I always just look if there is the てい, if yes, then it’s denial, if not then it’s rejection.


Luckily it sorts itself out pretty quickly because 否定 has a very strong presence in basic everyday Japanese across basically all contexts and 否決 doesn’t.


I am thinking of 拒否, but I can’t really think of 否決.

About the meaning, I think ALC is a pretty easy read. 否定拒否否決

About the remembering process, however, some mnemonic may still help in the beginning.

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