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Is there any difference in meaning between 護{まも}る and 守{まも}る? When there are multiple kanji for a particular reading (like 暑{あつ}い/熱{あつ}い or 初{はじ}め/始{はじ}め), they are frequently used in different situations (hot weather/hot to touch or first time/start). According to the dictionaries (jisho.org and a pocket dictionary) 守{まも}る is more common, but the story I'm reading now is using 護{まも}る. So I was wondering if there would be any particular reason for using 護 over 守.

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守護天使 is a good mix of both. –  oldergod May 28 at 10:29
    
This looks like a case of either a) a word that be written with a choice of kanji that alters the nuance, or b) two homonyms / homophones - different words that coincidentally have the same pronunciation. You might want to add the "kanji choice" or "homonyms" tag. –  hippietrail May 29 at 8:29
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Basically 守る is the more general and common word for "protecting, guarding, or keeping someone / something."

The 訓読み 「[護る]{まもる}」 is not listed in 常用漢字表 (thus it's not taught in schools), and it can be only specifically used to protect/guard something from foreign attacks.

  • 約束{やくそく}を守る (keep a promise): Good
  • 約束を護る: Not good
  • 秘密{ひみつ}を守る (keep a secret): Good
  • 秘密を護る: Not good
  • 法律{ほうりつ}を守る (uphold/obey the law): Good
  • 法律を護る: Not good, or maybe OK if you mean "to protect the law itself from being altered badly"

  • 祖国{そこく}を守る/護る (protect the homeland): OK

  • 打撃{だげき}から身{み}を守る/護る (protect oneself from damage): OK
  • サッカーのゴールを守る/護る (guard the goal): OK

Personally, I always use 守る for all those purposes, and regard 護る as the word only for novelists or songwriters.

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護る is used more to guard someone. There's a sense of security and guarding. Instances of this can be seen in words like 護衛、援護、擁護、警護 etc

A use of 護る can be in a sentence like 陛下を護る、主君を護る

守る is used to defend or protect something. Words that use 守 include those like 守備、攻守, 守衛

Uses of 守る: 宝を守る、陣地を守る、城を守る etc.

So one's used to guard, the other is used to protect Hope that helps

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What is the difference between "guard" and "protect"? –  非回答者 May 28 at 3:27
    
To guard, is to watch over, and protect, if needed. So you're preparing for a "threat" which may or maynot harm your subject. To protect/defend something, is to directly prevent it from the immediate threat. I'll use a castle as my example. One that "Guards・護る" a castle, is there to respond to a potential threat that pops-up. So normally, there isn't a threat, but if there is, they're there to deal with it. One that "Defends/Protects 守る", is responding to a threat that is currently occurring. Hope that helps :) –  user153603 May 28 at 10:58
    
I think this is the best answer. –  istrasci May 29 at 15:16
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My personal feeling...

The most often use of 「護」 of 「護る」 is when god defends somebody. We use 「神の御加護がありますように」 as "I hope god bless you". And their is a 「護国神社」 in every prefecture.

Or parents defends their kids, we call 「保護者」, adults who are legally responsible for kids.

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