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Learning Synonyms in Japanese Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in Grammar

Often times, it is easier to build your vocabulary by grouping similar meaning words or opposite words together. In Japanese, synonyms are called, “Dougigo (同義語、どうぎご)” or “Ruigigo(類義語、るいぎご)” In today’s lesson, let’s build your Japanese vocabulary by learning synonyms!  You can use these words below interchangeably within your sentence. You pick which one to use! Read on!




急ぐ(いそぐ) -Isogu

あわてる ーAwateru


The following two Japanese words mean the same thing: “To hurry”. You use these words when you don’t have enough time to do something.

For example:

I hurried home from school. This English sentence can be expressed as followings in Japanese.

Gakko kara isoide ieni kaetta. 学校から急いで家に帰った。(がっこうから いそいで いえに かえった。)or

Gakko kara awatete ieni kaetta. 学校からあわてて家に帰った。(がっこうから あわてて いえに かえった。)

Let’s take a look at another example:




These two words mean, “to run”.

For example:

I ran home from school. This English sentence can be expressed as followings in Japanese.

Gakko kara hashitte ieni kaetta. 学校から走って家に帰った。(がっこうから はしって いえに かえった。)or

Gakko kara kakete ieni kaetta. 学校から駆けて家に帰った。(がっこうから かけて いえに かえった。)

These words are similar in that you can use whichever you feel comfortable using.

Below are some more examples of Japanese synonyms.


本(ほん)  – hon

書物 (しょもつ) – shomotsu

Both means “books”.


病気 (びょうき)-byo-ki

やまい  – yamai

Both means “sickness”.


夫婦 (めおと)-meoto

夫婦 (ふうふ) – fu-fu

Both means “husband & wife”.


友達 (ともだち)- tomodachi

友人 (ゆうじん)- yu-jin

Both means “friend(s)”.


探す (さがす)-sagasu

求める (もとめる)-motomeru

Both means “to seek”.


言う (いう) - yuu

話す (はなす)-hanasu

Both means “to say, to speak”.


家 (いえ) - ie

住宅 (じゅうたく) – ju-taku

Both means “house”.


Above words are just a handful examples of Japanese synonyms. The more vocabulary you know, the more expressions you can understand and create based on your conversation. Learn each word at a time, and hope you can build your vocabulary gradually! Stay tuned for upcoming Japanese lessons. 🙂


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About the Author: keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.