Many native English speakers cannot state an exact definition of "bride" with regard to when one starts, and stops, being a "bride".

Is "嫁" also vague?
How bad of a translation of "bride" is "嫁"?

  • 1
    Mind that this word is commonly used for a "wife" in Western Japan (and probably understood so in the whole country). Your concern/explanation is more about 花嫁 I guess.
    – macraf
    Oct 19 '15 at 1:47
  • @macraf Why are you "guessing" about my question? I'm asking about the 和英辞典 definition of "嫁" and how misleading it is. How can anything be translated to "bride" when English native speakers can't agree on what "bride" means? btw: very curious about your "Western Japan" reference.
    – kairua
    Oct 19 '15 at 3:01
  • @oldergod no. That is not my question... If native English speakers don't agree on what a "bride" exactly is, then how can anything be translated to mean "bride"? anyway, I memorized "花嫁" and then all the sudden realized I don't even known what a 'bride' exactly is in English?" A word I don't know was translated to a word I don't really know. Just an epiphany of little consequence. But I am certain such problems exist in other word translations.
    – kairua
    Oct 19 '15 at 3:08
  • I'm guessing also that your dictionary does not mention the use of 嫁 for "bride" is archaic.
    – macraf
    Oct 19 '15 at 4:12
  • @macraf Even though "bride" and "花嫁" are simple tangible nouns, the vagarities of each can't possibly match. Vagueness translated to vagueness creates exponential vagueness that then disallows an acceptable translation. btw: as Japan has satellite / cable tv, there is no "western dialect". Just like the US, or anywhere, though some want to romanticize about dialects, in reality everyone just talks like the tv programs. I feel it and see it every day. trust me :-()
    – kairua
    Oct 19 '15 at 4:48

妻【つま】 is a female spouse in general. A female partner, a wife, of any age.

嫁【よめ】 is used on the basis of her position within a family. 国語事典 defines this as something like "a (relatively young) woman who came into a family after marriage". Thus it's common for a grandma to call her 25-year-old daughter-in-law "うちの嫁 (our 嫁)". There's no strict consensus on how long one can be called 嫁 after marriage. But an elder member in a family may regard her as 嫁 maybe even after 20 years after her marriage. Common phrases using 嫁 include 嫁に行く, 嫁に入る, 嫁を探す, 嫁になる, all of which somewhat have "enter into a family" connotations.

A husband may casually call her wife either (私の/俺の)妻 or (私の/俺の)嫁 (or sometimes (私の/俺の)奥さん), depending on his preference. In a formal situation, 妻 or 家内【かない】 is the safer choice. See this question for other possible expressions.

花嫁【はなよめ】 is a bride, as Oxford English Dictionary defines, "A woman at her marriage; a woman just about to be married or very recently married." Perhaps a woman is called 花嫁 only for a few days, or even only when she's in a 花嫁衣装/ウェディングドレス. I'm not aware of any meaningful difference between 花嫁 and bride for now.

新婦【しんぷ】 is semantically the same as 花嫁, but sounds stiffer and is basically only used in wedding ceremonies.

新妻【にいづま】 refers to a young woman who has been married (typically) for less than a year.

  • 1
    why do you add all those 私の? 妻、嫁、家内, as you know are used when speaking of our own spouse and i am not sure anybody say 私の妻 etc.
    – oldergod
    Oct 19 '15 at 6:06
  • You need to fill in more details: your wife vs. other people's wives, as well as the proper use of 奥さん.
    – Avery
    Oct 19 '15 at 6:25
  • 2
    私の was of course for a descriptive purpose, but I couldn't imagine that would puzzle some people. 私の is usually omitted, but not always so. I'd rather not maintain a full list of how people address my/his/your wives, that's beyond the scope of what's asked.
    – naruto
    Oct 19 '15 at 7:07

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