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What is the difference between 餌食{えじき} and 獲物{えもの}?

Both mean "prey", so how do we decide when to use which?

What is the difference in their nuances?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

This is another one of those situations where depending on a simple English translation will cause you to lose a lot of important details.

If you look at the kanji the difference is pretty clear. 餌食 combines 餌{えさ} and 食 of 食べ物. 餌 means animal feed, and 食 is of course eat, so 餌食 becomes prey in the sense of something that an animal eats for its food, like a lion hunting its prey. It can also share the meaning of prey in English's use, as in "falling prey" to something, like being the prey of online scammers or something.

I don't know how accurate it would be to call 獲物 "prey" because I don't think that it really contains the same connotations, at least not as closely as 餌食 does. 獲物 would be better translated as "game" or something that refers to you get from hunting or fishing. The 獲 is the same as in the word 獲得{かくとく}, or acquisition. It can also be something like "spoils" in English, like in the phrase "to the victor go the spoils," referring to something like what you gain in war.

To cite my best friend, the dictionary, the two definitions are very clear:




(1)狩りや漁で得た物。 「逃がした―は大きい」

Moral of the story: consult J-J dictionaries as much as you are able.

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Is it true that 獲物 can be used in the "prey" sense, for example what would be the difference between こいつは俺の獲物だ and こいつは俺の餌食だ? – Pacerier Jan 5 '13 at 11:10
My best explanation would be that 獲物 would give the idea that this person is being hunted, like some kind of trophy animal, evoking the idea of a hunter searching for a prized animal, while the latter would be much more carnal considering 餌食 includes eating the captured thing, and would carry that more brutal connotation in its metaphorical uses. – ssb Jan 5 '13 at 11:28
Btw did you mean "かくとく" instead of "えとく"? Also, what does the part "「逃がした―は大きい」" means? – Pacerier Jan 3 '14 at 18:01
yeah, sorry about that. not sure what was going through my mind then. The second part of your question is just an example sentence, and the dash should be replaced with 獲物, so 逃した獲物は大きい – ssb Jan 3 '14 at 18:05
Ic, Btw don't you think the explanation should have been "狩りや漁で得る物" instead of "狩りや漁で得た物"? Otherwise, how could a "得た物" also be "逃がした"? – Pacerier Jan 3 '14 at 18:50

As ssb explained, 獲物 means "game", or it should be translated as "target" especially in context other than actual hunting of animals. 獲物 is an target, so the subject not necessarily be weaker than speaker, or maybe even tougher. Also, 獲物 has nuance in uncertain or future, a state of being targeted rather than target already captured.

On the contrary, 餌食 may be translated as "victim", indicates a state of being already hunted or weak enough and certain to be hunted down.

So in most situation of comics or novels, "こいつは俺の獲物だ" just means "He's mine (to fight)", and his hunting is not started or completed.

"こいつは俺の餌食だ" is close "He's an easy target", however, this sentence itself sounds little weird since "餌食" belongs to the past as I explained in above. "こいつは俺の餌食になるしかない(He has no choice other than become my victim)" or "こいつは俺の餌食も同然よ(I'm sure that I already have him)" is more preferred.

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Does こいつは俺の餌食だった sound weird? – Pacerier Jan 10 '13 at 13:44

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