I was looking through a dictionary and came across 生活. My original question was

Is this the difference between 生気/生活?

生気 would be like an idea of life. more abstract

生活 would be concrete. So like something/one's life.

My new question is can you help me to understand the different ways "life" is said in Japanese? I actually forgot about 人生 and 命 when I wrote the question. I didn't know about ライフ/生命/一生 (and others?). I think 人生 would usually be when talking about a person's life right?

  • There are many more words that translate to life: 命{いのち}, 人生, ライフ, 生命, 一生, … If you're just trying to say "life", you have to be more precise and maybe give us a couple of example sentences. If you're really only interested in the difference between 生気 and 生活, then example sentences would still be very helpful. – Earthliŋ Jun 4 '14 at 19:57
  • Yes, what Earthliŋ said. Context is key. – Eiríkr Útlendi Jun 4 '14 at 20:22
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    Truth is 生活 and 生気 mean very different things from each other regardless of the context. – l'électeur Jun 4 '14 at 22:33
  • Sorry, I do not have sentences. I was looking through a dictionary, but it is very basic. Does not give example sentences so I can understand better. I have updated my question! – User4516 Jun 4 '14 at 23:33
  • Even this list of words for life is still incomplete. I'd suggest finding a way to narrow it down if possible.. – ssb Jun 4 '14 at 23:37

生活【せいかつ】 is English life, livelihood, or living; day-to-day activities of people.

命【いのち】 is life; it's something we lose when we die. Synonyms: 生【せい】、生命【せいめい】

生気【せいき】 is more like liveliness, spirit, or energy. Synonyms: 元気【げんき】、活力【かつりょく】

一生【いっしょう】 is a whole life of someone. Synonym: 生涯【しょうがい】

人生【じんせい】 is human's (whole) life; use this only for humans, of course.

ライフ is rarely used unless you're a video gamer. When used, it's the same as 生活 or 命.


  • 生活が苦しい difficult to live on (due to financial problems)
  • 生活保護 public assistance
  • 快適な生活 comfortable life
  • 交通事故で命を失う lose one's life in a traffic accident
  • 残り少ない命 little time left to live
  • 命が惜しければ... if you value your life...
  • 生気のない顔 colorless face
  • 声から生気が消える speak in an inanimate voice
  • 生気が戻る become energetic again
  • 一生で一度だけ/人生で一度だけ once in a lifetime
  • 一生の仕事 one's lifework
  • ライフが少ない health is low (in games)
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  • You sir are a braver soul than most for answering such an open-ended question. – virmaior Jun 5 '14 at 0:39
  • Oh, yes, that reminded me of 魂【たましい】, which means soul or spirit, something that doesn't vanish when we die. It's often used metaphorically as is the case with English. (侍魂【さむらいだましい】 = samurai spirit) – naruto Jun 5 '14 at 2:29
  • And of course, the counter for 'lives' in a video game sense is [機]{き}. – Sjiveru Jun 5 '14 at 3:38

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