Even in English, I can almost imagine someone saying

I have received my crimes.

to be a short-hand way of saying

What goes around comes around, and I have received the consequences for my criminal actions (of which I accept guilt).

Of course, it's way more idiomatic to just say

I have received punishment (for my crimes).

So in Japanese, does the phrase


Receives punishment.

literally mean

Receives crimes?

I ask because it's pretty confusing that 罪 usually means "crime" or "sin" but in some cases (like in this phrase) means "punishment" (a distinct but related concept). I was just curious if 罪 in all cases actually does mean "crime", but something like the above is going on.

As evidence for this, the Wiktionary entry for 罪 doesn't list "punishment" as an acceptable meaning of つみ (but other bilingual dictionaries do).

  • 3
    Daijirin entry for 罪 lists "punishment" for its second definition:「①法律的・道徳的・宗教的な規範に反する行為。「―を犯す」②①に対して負うべき責任。また,それに対して科される制裁。刑罰。「―に服する」「―を償う」「―に問われる」「人の―をかぶる」」.
    – Jimmy Yang
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 20:04
  • dictionary.goo.ne.jp/thsrs/9270/meaning/m0u
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 22:46
  • 3
    罪を受ける doesn't sound very natural to me. 「罪を受け入れる 」ならいいと思いますが
    – chocolate
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 9:11
  • 1
    I have removed the "etymology" tag, since the question doesn't actually ask about the origins or development of the term. As what seems like a more-fitting replacement, I have added the "meaning" tag instead. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


I find it weird, too, and from what I gathered, most contemporary speakers don't understand 罪 as "punishment".

Apparently it used to mean both things, but today many people would exclusively understand it as "crime" (so that you can say 罪を償う but not 罪に服す)

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