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I learnt both 意志{いし} and 志し{こころざし}, but am always confusing the two of them.

Can someone highlight the differences between those 2 words (and other variants if any) ?

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意志{いし}

It's just the will or desire of doing anything. やろうとする気持{きも}ち。

  • 今週中{こんしゅうちゅう}にそのプロジェクトをやり遂げるという意志がある。

志{こころざし}

Including the meaning of 意志{いし}, it's the determination or resolution to carry out a higher, long term goal or objective. It's not just the will, but the ambition, aspiration and resolve to do something.

  • 志{こころざし}は高{たか}く持{もつ}つべきだ。
  • 将来{しょうらい}博士{はかせ}になるという志{こころざし}を持{も}つ。

志{こころざし} is mostly used in the written language, as opposed to 意志, not uncommon in spoken conversation at all.

A variant could be 意向{いこう} used in business contexts to mean intention or つもり.

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  • Looks good to me, accepting. Not sure why it got downvotes though Nov 11, 2014 at 12:37
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    Looks basically OK to me, too, but the noun 志し is the 連用形 of verb 志す. Its noun form is usually written as 志【こころざし】 without し (similar to 話【はな】し (連用形) and 話【はなし】 (story)).
    – naruto
    Nov 12, 2014 at 0:28
  • Edited. You are right. Nov 12, 2014 at 2:49

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