Both 上がる and 挙がる are read the exact same way — as あがる — and in the dictionaries I looked them up, they appear under the same entry, and seem to show up as alternate spellings of the same word.

Is is the case that either spelling works on all occasions (meaning they're completely interchangeable), or are the spellings used in different contexts/circumstances?

This question does mention some variations, but since it is a rather broad one, wanted to get some more clarity around the specific nuance between the two writings.

  • Which dictionary are you using? If your dictionary really doesn't explain the difference between them, you should consider using a different one that explains practical and contemporary Japanese. See: Is there a fundamental difference between homonyms with close meaning and words with multiple possible kanji?
    – naruto
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 3:34
  • I looked at jisho.org as well as the "shirabe jisho" app. They have examples, but don't have detailed explanations of the differences between both spellings. Do you have dictionaries you'd recommend instead?
    – JNat
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 9:41
  • 明鏡国語辞典 is good for Japanese learners, but it's a monolingual dictionary.
    – naruto
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 10:40
  • Thanks! Monolingual is still a bit tricky for me at this point, but maybe I'll look into it. Also, this one's a book, right? Do you have any recommendations that are either apps or websites? They're just a bit more practical for looking up stuff on the go.
    – JNat
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


Different characters are used for different meanings or contexts.

スーパー大辞林 has this note on its (only) entry for あがる

「揚がる」は“揚げ物ができる。かかげられる。高まる”の意。「天ぷらが揚がる」「日の丸が揚がる」「歓声が揚がる」 「意気が揚がる」

上げる is the most basic of all and is used for the general sense of raising something or moving something up. 挙げる has the implication of raising something or bringing something up to indicate something or so something is noticed. 例を挙げる is arguably the most common usage. Even 手を挙げる is understood slightly differently from 手を上げる. The former seems to suggest you raise your hand for some purpose, for example as a sign that you have something to say, whereas the latter simply refers to the physical motion.

  • I just realized that the explanations I added later was about あげる and not about あがる. But the same difference applies anyway.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 22:35

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