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What is the difference between 腰掛ける and 座る?

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This is a nice cultural question.

「[座]{すわ}る」 originally means "to sit on the floor or ground".

「[腰掛]{こしか}ける」 means "to sit on a chair or something that has a certain height".

Nowadays, it is perfectly OK to use 座る when sitting on a chair, too, as in 「イスに座る = "to sit on a chair"」.

Older people still use the word (noun) 「腰かけ」 instead of 「イス」 to refer to a chair as well.


For the advanced learner, 腰掛 can also mean "temporary employment" in informal speech --- "a chair to sit on for a few months" kinda thing.

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    Katakana is usually used for 椅子? – 3 to 5 business days Aug 10 '14 at 13:22
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    @3to5businessdays The kanji 椅子 are pretty common, but surprisingly 椅 wasn't included on the 常用漢字表 until the 2010 revision, so before that I think the official recommendation was to avoid the kanji. – snailcar Aug 13 '14 at 10:11
  • Even so, wouldn't it be written in hiragana instead? I did notice that katakana is prevalent in plant names, animal names, and food though. – 3 to 5 business days Aug 13 '14 at 13:16
  • Using katakana as a replacement for certain diffult kanji words is very common, unless we are writing something very serious. – naruto Aug 14 '14 at 7:38

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