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I'm a little confused on the difference between 凍る 【こおる】 and 凍える 【こごえる】.

From what I've researched, it seems like 凍る focuses more on the physical process of something freezing, and the result being ice or frozen solid. Like water freezing into ice, or a steak freezing and becoming solid after it's been in the freezer for a while.

Whereas 凍える seems to be the more abstract concept of freezing, or the physical sensation of freezing. Like freezing toes/fingers when you're walking outside in the winter, or a "frozen wasteland".

Is this correct thinking, or am I off???

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I would agree with your general description: 凍る is physical freezing - usually of water or other liquid - or freezing cold. It is more objective (you can measure a freezing point). Exception: when used metaphorically as in 血{ち}も凍る which is probably close to the English "blood-curdling".

It can also be sometimes used when ice covers something e.g. 凍った[道]{みち} - a road that has iced over.

凍える is freezing in terms of feeling/your body's response as in "it's so cold I can't feel my fingers". It is more subjective. It can also be used to refer to parts of the body, e.g. 凍えた[指]{ゆび} - fingers stiff with cold.

So it makes more sense to talk about "凍る[温度]{おんど}" than "凍える温度", and I think it's possible to say 凍えるほど[寒]{さむ}い when the temperature isn't actually below freezing.

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