The Synonyms Thread

There are lots of synonyms in WK that make it difficult if you start learning in the other direction (English → Japanese).

This situation is made even worse because we as learners do not yet have the same feel for the language as native speakers do. So we can’t always make a good judgement whether two things are synonymous or not.

For example, English learners may not be 100% sure whether to buy and to purchase are synonyms or not. They are used in different contexts, but are practically synonyms.

An example in Japanese is 皆さん and 皆様. They both mean “everyone”, but in WK one is “everyone, everybody, all”, whereas the other is “everyone, all, everybody”.

This results in difficulties when using, e.g., KaniWani or @rfindley 's Self-Study userscript .

I’m basically creating this thread for myself, to collect all words that I deem to be synonyms, but you can of course reply with your own contributions and then we can discuss here whether the words you mention are really synonyms or not.

EDIT: the second post of this thread is now a wiki. Try not to post a question in the wiki, but ask your question in a new reply because otherwise other people may not see your question (especially if the wiki becomes long-ish).

If you’re a regular/leader, you can also post your own reply and turn that into a wiki.

11 Likes

Wiki, feel free to edit :smiley:

sorted by the level of the first occurrence of each word

(some words may be out of place since the last content update)

1-10

Level 1


Level 2

English 日本語 Comment
ball 2 means “jewel” or “round object.” 1
12 means “ball used in sports” or “light bulb.” 1
circular, round 2 丸い Difference between 丸い and 円い
2 円い Difference between 丸い and 円い
king 2
6 国王
13 王様
center 2
4 中央
everybody 2 人々
5 万人
ground 2
6
sun 2
12 太陽
very 2 中々
2 大いに
writing, sentence 2
5 作文
12 文章

Level 3

English 日本語 Comment
few 3 少ない
3 少し
father 3
3 お父さん
12 父親
friend 3 友人 What is the difference between 友達 and 友人?
18 友達 What is the difference between 友達 and 友人?
half 3
3 半分
important 3 大切
9 大事
mother 3
3 お母さん
12 母親
task, use 3
9 使用

Level 4

English 日本語 Comment
atmosphere 4 大気
14 雰囲気
entire(ly) 4 丸ごと
8 全部
13 全然
fast 4 早い means “early,” “ahead of schedule,” or “short” in relation to time.1
5 早く
10 速い means “speedy” or “accelerating.” 1
last year 4 去年
15 昨年
method 4 仕方
15 方法
name 4
4 名字
8 名前
number 4
8 番号
red 4 Noun
4 赤い Adjective (I)
thanks 4 お礼
13 感謝
car 4
16 自動車
expert 4 名人
18 達人
mood 4 気分
18 機嫌

Level 5

English 日本語 Comment
action 5 仕草
5 作用
12 活動
12 行動
angle 5
9 角度
forest 5
8
soon 5 近日
7 近々
this time 5 今回
(for completeness) 9 今度
to grow 5 生える
12 植える
traveling 5 走行
12 旅行
12
various 5 色々
13 様々
thought 5 考え
13 思想

Level 6

English 日本語 Comment
underground 6 地中 6
6 地下
peace 6 平安
9 平和
room 6
9 部屋
society 6 世の中
9 世界
night, evening 6
15
unknown 6 不明
17 不詳
overseas, abroad 6 海外
20 在外

Level 7

English 日本語 Comment
area 7 辺り
7
author 7 作家
8 作者
previously 7 以前
11 予め
end 7
10 終了
12 終わり
shape, appearance 7
14 格好

Level 8

English 日本語 Comment
answer 8 答え
9 返事
time (interval, period) 8
8 時間
12 期間
12 時期
branch office 8 支店
8 支局
completely 8 全く
13 全然
conversation 8 会話
9 対談
electricity 8 電気
8 電力
investigation 8 究明
8 研究
last time, previously 8 前回
8 この前
natural 8 当たり前
13 当然
place 8
8 場所
space 8 空間
19 宇宙
19
suicide 8 自決
13 自殺
to help 8 助ける
13 手伝う
body 8
8 身体
you 8
8 お前
admission 8 入所
16 入門

Level 9

English 日本語 Comment
article 9 記事
12 文章
condition 9 具合
10 調子
hypothesis 9 仮定
13 想定
necessary 9 重要
9 必要
feeling 9 気持ち
11 心持ち
13 感じ
13 感情
neighbourhood 9 付近
10 近所
new 9 新しい
11 新た
specialty 9 名物
14 特技
thing 9
9
to try 9 試みる
to attempt 11 試す
truth 9
9 事実
17 真実
reply 9 返事
15 返信
experience 9 体験
20 経験

Level 10

English 日本語 Comment
good friend 10 親友
11 仲良し
facial expression 10 顔つき
13 表情
laboratory 10 研究室
10 研究所
last 10 最終
10 最後
work 10 作業
11 仕事

11-20

Level 11

English 日本語 Comment
bad 11 不良
12 悪い
basics 11 初歩
14 基本
first place 11 一位
11 首位
12 第一位
order 11 注文 request, e.g. a dish from the menu at a restaurant
11 命令 command to someone to do something
preparation 11 支度
11 用意
roof 11 屋上 Rooftop of a building you can access (school, office building, mall etc.)
12 屋根 Roof of a house, protect a building from rain, tiled, etc.
waiting room 11 待合
13 待合室
the worst 11 最低
12 最悪
to compete 11 争う
11 競う
loser 11 負け犬
17 敗者

Level 12

English 日本語 Comment
alcoholic 12 酒飲み
13 酒好き
city 12 都市
12 都会
company employee 12 社員
12 会社員
family 12 家庭 general concept of “family”
12 家族 close relatives
hot 12 暑い applies only to hot weather
(for completeness) 13 熱い applies only to hot things
mountain climbing 12 登山
14 山登り
root 12 根本
12
temperature 12 気温
12 温度
word 12 言葉
15 単語

Level 13

English 日本語 Comment
enthusiasm 13 熱心
13 情熱
everyone 13 皆さん normal polite
13 皆様 very polite
heart’s desire 13 心願
14 念願
14 願望
empathy, sympathy 13 同感
14 人情
goal 13 目標
14 目的
murder 13 殺人
15 人殺し
hypothesis 13 想定
17 仮説

Level 14

English 日本語 Comment
completion 14 完了
14 完成
wood, lumber 14 木材 raw wood material that is not yet processed
14 材木 wood that is a finished product and can be used immediately
personality, character 14 性格
14 人格
ability 14 能力
14 技能
remainder 14 残り
20 残余

Level 15

English 日本語 Comment
to arrange 15 整える
15 整理する
confidence 15 信用
15 自信
temple 15
18 僧院

Level 16

English 日本語 Comment
preservation 16 保存
16 保持
dangerous 16 危ない
16 危険(な)
happiness 16 幸福
16 幸せ
proof 16
16 証明
absence 16 留守
17 欠席

Level 17

English 日本語 Comment
love 17 愛情
17 恋愛
17
17
consciousness, awareness 17 自覚
17 意識

Level 18

English 日本語 Comment
prayer 18 祈念
18 祈願
debt 18 借金
19 借財

Level 19

English 日本語 Comment
suspicion 19 容疑
20 嫌疑

Level 20

English 日本語 Comment
prevention 20 防止
20 予防

21-30 (empty)

Level 21

English 日本語 Comment

Level 22

English 日本語 Comment

Level 23

English 日本語 Comment

Level 24

English 日本語 Comment

Level 25

English 日本語 Comment

Level 26

English 日本語 Comment

Level 27

English 日本語 Comment

Level 28

English 日本語 Comment

Level 29

English 日本語 Comment

Level 30

English 日本語 Comment

31-40 (empty)

Level 31

English 日本語 Comment

Level 32

English 日本語 Comment

Level 33

English 日本語 Comment

Level 34

English 日本語 Comment

Level 35

English 日本語 Comment

Level 36

English 日本語 Comment

Level 37

English 日本語 Comment

Level 38

English 日本語 Comment

Level 39

English 日本語 Comment

Level 40

English 日本語 Comment

41-50 (empty)

Level 41

English 日本語 Comment

Level 42

English 日本語 Comment

Level 43

English 日本語 Comment

Level 44

English 日本語 Comment

Level 45

English 日本語 Comment

Level 46

English 日本語 Comment

Level 47

English 日本語 Comment

Level 48

English 日本語 Comment

Level 49

English 日本語 Comment

Level 50

English 日本語 Comment

51-60 (empty)

Level 51

English 日本語 Comment

Level 52

English 日本語 Comment

Level 53

English 日本語 Comment

Level 54

English 日本語 Comment

Level 55

English 日本語 Comment

Level 56

English 日本語 Comment

Level 57

English 日本語 Comment

Level 58

English 日本語 Comment

Level 59

English 日本語 Comment

Level 60

English 日本語 Comment

Please fill in the gaps! :+1:


References

  1. Tofugu: Japanese Homophones
4 Likes

How about

検討する
検査する
検問する

If they’re not synonyms, what is the difference?

2 Likes

Okay, the first entry is the above-mentioned 皆さん and 皆様. One is more polite than the other, but they mean the same.

I would argue that 女の子 and 少女 are not synonyms, because they are each used to describe girls of different age groups.

一位 and 第一位 are definitely synonyms. One is “first place, first ranked”, the other is “first place, first rank”.

完全 and 完了 are a bit trickier. See https://hinative.com/en-US/questions/1031866

As tempting as it is, 会話 and 対談 are not real synonyms (one is “conversation, dialog”, the other is “conversation, dialogue, talk”). It seems that 対談 is more like an interview, whereas 会話 is a more neutral word. See https://hinative.com/en-US/questions/113268

相談 in WK is “consultation, discussion, advice”.

私立大学 and 私大 are synonyms. One is just the abbreviated form.

It seems that 検問 is mainly used for police investigations:

検査 is an inspection or scan, such as MRI or your luggage at the airport

検討 is more abstract: https://hinative.com/en-US/questions/1969182

Note: this list is not a list of all synonyms in the Japanese language. For that you need a Japanese thesaurus. The synonyms I list here are just those that can be found in WK and are used for the purpose of learning the Japanese translation for English terms.

1 Like

Yeah, especially with homophones while doing a Listening quiz.

For whatever it’s worth, with E->J non-listening quizes, I place the user’s synonyms first in the question, so if you add your own context it can help reduce this issue a little.

Anyway, good thread.

1 Like

How about turning the OP into a wiki and we can update it over time @plantron?

2 Likes

Pure:
清い
潔い
清潔

2 Likes

That’s a good suggestion. I want to keep the original post because I think we need that intro. But I have now turned the second post into a wiki. Feel free to edit!

2 Likes

Found a good explanation: https://hinative.com/ja/questions/914788[quote=“thakis, post:7, topic:17863, full:true”]
Pure:
清い
潔い
清潔
[/quote]

Action
行動
活動

作用
仕草

Condition
具合
条件
状況
状態
調子

Essential
必須
必要
重要
不可欠
要旨
必需品

To shake
振る (transitive, godan)
揺する (transitive, godan)
揺さぶる (godan)
揺る (transitive, godan)
震える (intransitive, ichidan)

4 Likes

I think 事 can in some circumstances be translated to “action”. Indeed, WK gives it as one synonym. However, 事 in the sense of “action” is more because it’s a nominalizing suffix and if it’s used alone probably never really means “action” as the other words in the above list.

I think 事 including actions is basically that 事 can be almost anything, heh.

薬 in WK is “medicine, drug, drugs”; whereas 薬剤 is “medicine, drugs” and 薬物 is “medicines, drugs”.

Actually, 薬 means legal drugs, that is, drugs you can buy legally at the pharmacy.

薬物 has a broader meaning, it can be legal or illegal drugs.

薬剤 is for example used in the word for pharmacist, 薬剤師


政府 in WK is “government” whereas 政治 is “politics, government”.

These are obviously not synonyms.

政治 is government in the abstract sense of the political system; e.g. “political science” is 政治学

政府 is the government that we actually have; e.g. “government intervention” is 政府介入



2 Likes

Those are the bane of my existence on Kaniwani.

2 Likes

To hang
下げる
懸ける
掛ける

Just posting to make sure this thread stays alive - I really think this is a good idea, but I just don’t really have the time right now to contribute a lot. Hopefully in a couple months I’ll be able to contribute a lot more…

3 Likes

This website provides a few examples, and also provides a few resources (I didn’t get a chance to check those out yet…):

http://www.fluentu.com/japanese/blog/japanese-synonyms/

1 Like

To return

望む and 希望する and 願望する and 願う

I think that for a lot of purposes these (except for 願う) are synonyms.

1 Like

There’s a lot of words for “to revolve”, “to turn”, “to rotate”. Many people (including me) often have to think hard when asked about the difference among them, even in my native language. The earth rotates once every 24 hours but revolves around the sun once a year. But who the hell can remember that!?!?

It’s even trickier when you learn a foreign language. I guess the Japanese also use a lot of the following words interchangeably, although it may not always be correct:

回転する
回る
回す

Rather than being bogged down in the details, I’ve added all of these as synonyms in KW. That may not be absolutely correct, but I can’t bother to care at this point.

1 Like