I think that the both of them mean before, but I have seen that they are sometimes use in parent-child metaphors, but I always get confused with these. Some examples of ○○先、○○元 words would be appreciated.


  • 5
    Some examples that get you confused would help us help you…
    – Axioplase
    Jun 29 '11 at 5:28

If anything, they're more like antonyms. 先 denotes 'destination', while 元 denotes 'source', or 'beginning', or 'essence'.


  • 宛先, 届け先: delivery address
  • 行き先: destination (of a trip)


  • 根元: by the root (e.g. of a tree)
  • 元値: "beginning price" (original price paid by retailer).
  • 元素: (chemical) element.

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