5

According to Denshi Jisho, they mean "supplementation" but I wonder if there is any difference in their nuances.

Here are some examples where they are used:

  1. 小まめに補給することが大切です。
  2. 職員の欠員を補充するために広告を出した。
  3. この件について補足の説明をさせてください。
  4. 学校での教育を補完する役割が塾にはある。
  • Also related are 補填 and 補償. – a user Jan 10 '15 at 13:05
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They're quite different words. Grammatically, all of them are used as verbs with ~する.

補充 is better translated as to replenish, that is to refill something when the number/amount of them have decreased.

補給 is a special case of 補充, whose replenishment is intended for immediate consumption. Typical ones I imagine are water for marathon runners, and ammo for front-line soldiers. You can use 補充 instead of 補給, but not necessarily vice versa.

If 補給 is used without object, it's usually considered as to take nourishment.

補足 is to add words as afterthoughts. You can only use it for adding information.

補完 is to complement with something obverse.


Supplementation on krnk's comment:
補填 is to make good a deficit, and 補償 is to compensate (for a damage).

  • Could you clarify "Never used outside language" ? – Flaw Jan 10 '15 at 15:53
  • Edited. Hope it's made clear now. – broccoli forest Jan 10 '15 at 16:07
  • It still isn't clear. Do you mean not used outside of written works? – Flaw Jan 10 '15 at 16:08
  • 2
    What I meant was you can only use it for adding "words", but not "water", "food", "materials" and anything else. How do you say it in good English? – broccoli forest Jan 10 '15 at 16:16
  • 1
    I think comparing words with those examples is a good way to explain. – Flaw Jan 10 '15 at 17:31

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