What's the difference between 亡 and 死?

I’m on level six, and I’m wondering what the difference between 亡 and 死 is, as they both mean death. Are they just synonyms?

A dictionary I found seems to imply that 亡 refers to being dead, while 死 refers to death itself, but I’m not certain that I’m reading that correctly.

Thanks for your help on this morbid topic!


They do both mean death, but they also have other meanings as well that don’t perfectly overlap, such as “destroy” or “be destroyed” for 亡. I wouldn’t fret too much over the English translations… my Japanese kanji dictionary lists しぬ as a meaning for both.

亡 is never used alone as a word, while 死 can be used that way.

亡’s origin is as an ideogram (abstract depiction of a concept) of something fading from view.

死 was originally a compound of 歹 (originally a fragment of bone) and 人. So, a rather crude portrayal of death. It changed shape over time and you can’t see the 人 anymore.

Are there other aspects that you wanted to know about?

EDIT: By the way, here’s an incomplete list of more kanji that mean, or can mean, death: 去, 逝, 没, 故


That’s what I wanted to know! Thank you so much.

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Yeah, same with this dictionary for iPad. It lists as primary meanings for each as 亡くなること and 死ぬこと.

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