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I wanted to know how to say "risk" in Japanese, so I looked it up, and found that most dictionaries translate "risk" as 「[危険]{きけん}」. To me, [危険]{きけん} means "danger", which is different.

Though, to be honest, when I thought of this, I realized that even in English, the difference is subtle. The two words feel very different, but I had to look on the net to be really sure of what that difference is.

As I see it now, "risk" is about possibility of danger. Danger is a certainty that you either enter into or don't.

So, if there is a sign that says "Danger, do not step on third rail", you know for sure if you step on the third rail, you get electrocuted. No two ways about it.

However, if you hear on the news that there is ice on the roads, and so it is "risky" to go out driving, you may or may not encounter ice, and it may or may not be a problem.

So, as far as I translate it in Japanese, [危険]{きけん} is definite danger (correct me if I'm wrong about that). If I see a sign that says 「[危険]{きけん} ー [入]{はい}らないでください」, I expect that if I enter, something definitely dangerous will occur.

If I wanted to express "risk" in Japanese, is there a word I can use? Do I have to say something like 「[危険]{きけん}の[可能性]{かのうせい}」?

Specifically, the kind of situation I imagine this in is financial risk. Like in a business meeting where I'd want to say "I would rather not take on that risk."

Lastly, I know I could maybe use リスク, but using katakana makes me sad.

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No difference, there are the same word in Japanese in term of "dangerous". You can express the risk of possiblity with 可能性 though. –  oldergod Jan 31 '12 at 7:02
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I would simple say リスク. If you don't want to use katakana, 危険性{きけんせい} might be good. –  rio Jan 31 '12 at 7:11
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You have 'risk, danger, peril, hazard, caution' etc... But we can use just 危険(or恐れ?) for most of them, and we would need some explanation to understand the difference and to know which one to use in what context. Like... we have 米、ご飯、米飯、白米、稲、ライス、もみ etc... while you can just say 'rice' to refer to them. –  Chocolate Jan 31 '12 at 7:53
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Everybody, please... comments are not for answers: meta.japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/593/… –  Dave M G Feb 1 '12 at 3:47
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@Chocolate: I understand that katakana words aren't really faking anything. They're now as much a part of Japanese as words of French or Latin origin are proper English words. Still, I just can't help feeling a distance between myself and the Japanese language when I use borrow words. I wouldn't go so far as to say 写真機 instead of カメラ, but I prefer to use words of Japanese origin when possible. –  Dave M G Feb 1 '12 at 7:45
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

You have 'risk, danger, peril, hazard, caution' etc... But we can use just 危険(or恐れ?) for most of them, and we would need some explanation to understand the difference and to know which one to use in what context. Like... we have 米、ご飯、米飯、白米、稲、ライス、もみ etc... while you can just say 'rice' to refer to them. 
As rio-san and istrasci-san said, I think 'risk' can be referred to as [危険性]{きけんせい} as well as just 'リスク'.
When you'd want to talk about 'financial risk', like 'I would rather not take on that risk,' I'd rather use 'リスク' though・・・→ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RURgbNJZ6rA&feature=pyv -- at 2:45, 3:45.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABvLOW_nEh8&feature=related -- at 1:37, 1:43, 2:39, 2:59 etc...

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