My flashcard deck has 2 very similar cards:

  • meaning: to load, pile up
  • jisho.org: to pile up; to stack


  • meaning: to place on, load onto, draufstellen
  • jisho.org: to place on (something), to load (luggage); to carry; to take on board

As a non-native of either English or Japanese, I don't see the difference. I feel like 積む is for big objects and a rough action, while with 載せる the loader is concerned about the final position of a rather small object. But I have too little evidence.
So when I put an object on another object, when would I use the first and when the second?

  • 1
    積む = (auf)stapeln & 載せる = drauf[tun/setzen/stellen]. The former usually implies more than one object.
    – Earthliŋ
    Aug 11 '15 at 12:24

As Japanese native:

積む feels like many things are loaded, and also feels that they are put on top of another (and I suppose that's what pile-up means).

載せる feels like putting something on top of certain base.

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