I cannot, for the love of my life, understand the difference between

  • 下る{くだる}

  • 下りる{おりる}

  • 下がる{さがる}

Don't they all mean the same, basically? Is there a difference, and if yes, how could I proceed to get it?

  • 2
    Meaning differences are pretty large. Can you give us more hints as to why you imagine their meanings are similar? What context are you talking about for your proceeding?
    – virmaior
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 15:49
  • Jisho is a good dictionary, although I don't think it's a replacement for an actual person answering.
    – jastako
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


おりる and くだる both mean to move from a high place to a low(er) place. The difference is that the former focuses on the end point/result, whereas the latter focuses on the movement and/or the course taken. さがる means to go down or back, often used in relation to some value or standard. You also use it when a part of something (bodily or other) lowers from its normal position.

Here are a couple of examples from my book (which I can't find in order to credit it):

          | おりる | くだる | さがる
急いで山を~    |  〇  |  〇  |
小舟で川を~    |     |  〇  |
舞台に幕が~ている |  〇  |     |  〇
成績が五番~    |     |     |  〇
一歩後ろへ~    |     |     |  〇

Here's a screenshot if it's misaligned in your browser (courtesy of @psosuna)

enter image description here

  • 1
    Since the diagram he put together looked funny on my display, I thought it would look funny to other people as well, so I aligned it to my machine and made an image of it that's correctly aligned. i.sstatic.net/hWy0g.png
    – psosuna
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 21:54

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