I learnt the words 獣{しし} and 野獣{やじゅう} and their definitions look too similar. Can someone explain me the difference between them?

While searching more for beast words, I also found that 獣 could also be spelt けもの or けだもの (also written in katakana ケダモノ).

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    Everywhere I could find it, 獣{しし} is marked as outdated or archaic. Where did you come across 獣{しし}?
    – jkerian
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 5:12
  • When I learnt 原始人, I searched for an example on tangorin, then discovered 獣 and learnt it ^^. Will remove it from my list then, thanks for the info :) Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 6:19

2 Answers 2


獣 is always read けもの or けだもの in modern Japanese.


Simply refers to any kind of beast or animal.


It's only used for emotionally deprived, unscrupulous, monstrous individuals, like a murderer, rapist or barbarian. It always refers to the actual perpetrator, so for example, you wouldn't call Adolf Hitler a けだもの. Think of Chucky from Child's Play.


Also means beast or brute, but it doesn't carry any negative connotation like けだもの.

しし is not used in modern Japanese as 獣, but 獅子{しし} is an outdated form of ライオン.

  • FWIW, it bears noting that the しし related to 獣 is distinct from the しし reading for 獅子. The latter is just the on'yomi of the kanji spelling 獅子. Meanwhile, the しし reading for 獣 (and various other animal kanji, such as 鹿) is the kun'yomi, and this しし is ultimately cognate with the now-rare kun'yomi for the kanji 肉 -- these various kun'yomi words all had to do with meat, and the animals hunted for their meat. See also en.wiktionary.org/wiki/肉#Japanese. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 7:06
  • I thought maybe the OP could have confused 獣{しし} with 獅子{しし}, they are of course unrelated, and the former never used in modern Japanese.
    – j--
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 17:20


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