"Transfer" synonyms in japanese

Can someone explain please, what’s the difference between many words for “transfer” in Japanese:
乗り換え、移動、振替、転送、移譲、移動、移送 (I’ve seen more on jisho, but didn’t write them)
Also, it’s not the first time I see a LOT of synonyms in Japanese for just one word in English, so the more general question, do Japanese people really use all of these words or there is one common word, and all of the rest are just more specific or rare?
Thanks in advance!

Some of them are pretty restricted (and I see 移動 is listed twice), and you can see how the meanings are derived. “Transfer” is a fairly basic concept after all.

乗り換え means to transfer from one mode of transportation to another, such as from one train line to another train line.

振替 expresses an idea of switching something from one thing to another. It’s also used for money transfers.

移動 is a general word for motion, so it can overlap with general concepts of transferring as motion in English, though to be honest, I don’t feel like we use “transfer” in English the way 移動 is used in Japanese. It would have to be a very specific situation.

転送 is used most often in the concept of forwarding an email.

移譲 is used to talk about transferring wealth or rights from one individual to another.

To me, the kanji tell the story, and fit well with how they are limited in use. Some of them come up less in everyday use, but there is no “generic” transfer word you could apply to these concepts.

I feel like Japanese people would not consider most of these synonyms at all.


Even 振替? It’s always a bit confusing to me how 振 ended up in a couple of words related to money transfer.

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Sure, why not? One of the meanings of 振る is basically “to toss (and thereby scatter or distribute) by hand” and I imagine that being applied abstractly.


Something to remember about jisho.org (and other dictionaries using the same EDICT data) is that it is a Japanese-English dictionary, not an English-Japanese dictionary. You can stick an English word into the searchbox, but what you get back is just every Japanese word that used that English word in its definition somewhere (and some other stuff like “matching wikipedia article titles”). This is different to how an English-Japanese dictionary would handle the word (by listing sets of Japanese words that correspond to the various senses of the English word).

With the jisho.org results, you can look through the definitions provided to try to get an idea of what the word means and which might match up with a specific English usage you had in mind. In this example if you look at what ‘transfer’ returns, 乗り換え is defined as “transfer (trains, buses, etc.); change; connection​” and 転送 as “transfer (of a call, patient, etc.); forwarding (a letter, email, etc.); redirection​”, whereas 移動 is “movement; transfer; migration; removal; travel​” and you can see that these are talking about fairly clear concepts which in English we might sometimes use the word ‘transfer’ for but just as often might not. Looking at the whole definition gives you a cluster of English words which hopefully identify the meaning of the Japanese word.


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