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This has an entry in the 異字同訓漢字の使い分け例. My answer will basically just be a quick translation and notes on that entry. 【堅い】中身が詰まっていて強い。確かである。 堅い材木。堅い守り。手堅い商売。合格は堅い。口が堅い。堅苦しい。 【固い】結び付きが強い。揺るがない。 団結が固い。固い友情。固い決意。固く信じる。頭が固い。 【硬い】(⇔軟らかい)。外力に強い。こわばっている。 硬い石。硬い殻を割る。硬い表現。表情が硬い。選手が緊張で硬くなっている。 堅 is for stuff that's strong or certain. Stiff, as you say, ...


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離す means to separate or let go of something (c.f. 分離). 放す means to send out or to emit (c.f. 放送).


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The act of assigning kanjis to words that ignore kanji's meaning is called 当て字 (ateji), and that has a long history. According to Wikipedia article on 当て字, this was very common in the past because the language used to rely on Kanji/Hiragana boundary to help distinguish nouns, verbs, etc from particles. The article is full of great examples like 珈琲, 滅茶苦茶, and ...



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