Why isn't "opponent" an alternative definition for 相手?


“Partner” being the main definition is perfectly fine, but to completely ignore the second definition is, to me, a huge mistake.

While almost all dictionary entries for 相手 have “opponent” as a definition, some dictionaries even put that definition before “partner,” and sometimes “opponent” is the main definition! (I’d list some dictionaries, but I’m sure you have your own, trusted sources that you can check!)

Colloquially, I’ve seen 相手 used to mean “opponent” way more than any other definition (albeit in manga and games where that definition is more likely to appear.)

To not teach “opponent” as a definition of 相手 is to confuse Japanese learners who will inevitably encounter that definition, and it punishes those who have encountered the word before, or outside of, WaniKani.


I think opponent has an adversarial connotation where (as I understand it) the word is more of a positive spin to it.

maybe a native speaker can help?


Opposite to your experience with games, my experience seeing 相手 in games has usually meant partner. Just throwing that out there, games are the only place I’ve really seen the word as well.


It’s true that it’s used to mean an opponent in sports and competition. Add it as a synonym. Email them if you really think it’s necessary.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you say your exposure is more to it being opponent if you’re only exposed to games. You’ve got a bit of a skewed look on it. Not wrong, just skewed


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