It seems like they both mean the same, young man. What is the difference between them?


According to this site: http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1312853

少年 is used for persons till 20 years (or depending on the law from elementary school till 18 years)

青年 is used for persons from 14/15 years till 24/25 years.

Also you should take care, that 青年 and 少年 can be used for females, too. (See comments from eltonjohn and snailboat.)

  • I would just like to add that by looking at the kanji you can infer a lot; one means "small" or "fewer" and the other means "blue" or "green" (as in the case of an unripened fruit). Years-too-few and Not-yet-ripe.
    – sova
    Jul 3 '15 at 4:22
  • 2
    <it is used for male and female> Well, 青年 is surely used for both male and female as in 青年男女, whereas 少年 is mainly used for male: we usually say 少女 for girl(s). For the record, in legal context, 少年 refers to both male and female.
    – eltonjohn
    Jul 3 '15 at 7:21
  • 2
    @sova I think the use of 青 is meant to evoke spring, as in 青春, not lack of ripeness. (Well, not directly, anyway. Of course spring itself evokes lack of ripeness.) Jul 3 '15 at 9:13
  • 2
    I think there is a tendency to use 青年 for males, though.
    – user1478
    Jul 3 '15 at 12:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.