These two have been giving me trouble since I’ve learned them - I’m not sure I can even distinguish between the main English meanings (heart’s desire and heartfelt desire). Is there any meaningful distinction between them other than 念願 also acting as a suru verb, or am I safe to treat them as synonyms?
My understanding is 心願 is a word used in religious contexts, particularly Shinto and Buddhism, for something you wish for. So it might sound strange to use it with something trivial. If you search for it, you’ll probably see a lot of 心願成就 come up as well, which I believe is usually associated with wishes made at shrines or temples.
念願, on the other hand, can be used with things you just want really badly of all kinds. For instance, the dictionary has 念願のタイトルを手に入れた “I got the title (probably a movie, game, book, etc, but other things are possible too) I was really hoping for / desiring for a long time”
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