What is the difference between 光る{ひかる}, 輝く{かがやく}, and 光り{ひかり}輝く{かがやく}? According to my dictionary, they all mean "to shine" or "to be bright", but I'm sure they aren't always interchangeable. Looking at example sentences, it seems that the sun, moon, a star, and a diamond can both 光る and 輝く, but eyes mostly 輝く. I can't figure out anything based on that, though, and I'm not even sure if it's correct.


2 Answers 2


Something that 光る is something that emits/reflects light. The sun. A star. A flashlight. An LED.

輝く is to shimmer/sparkle. The sun reflecting off a lake's waves does 輝く. A diamond reflecting light does this.

As for 光り輝く, it's the same thing as 輝く.

And as someone else here said, if you just want to compare words to get a nuanced meaning of the word, a google image search is always a great thing to use.

  • 1
    ハゲ頭 doesn't emit light but 光る.
    – user9778
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 7:19
  • 1
    Apologies - I thought "items that emit light" was a superset of "items that reflect light." I'll edit my answer.
    – Kyle
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 23:53
  • Is there anything that can 輝く but can't 光る?
    – Blavius
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 22:58

輝く is more of a sparkle/shine, instead of just a plain shine. Shimmer maybe? And 光る as to give off light. This might be the only time in the history of the community that a Google Image Search of 輝く versus 光る will explain this better than a dictionary answer.

  • @Blavius to give off light sparklingly
    – Flaw
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 9:28

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