I understand both are vulgar male forms of eat, but why these two kanji are basically the same? What means that 口 in there?

  • (口+食)遼の僧行均の「龍龕手鑑」に「喰音は餐{さん}又は音孫{そん}」とあって、飱{そん}の音がある。「新撰字鏡」に「喰、飲食を受けるなり、[波牟]{はむ}」とあり、我が国ではよく用いられた字である。① くう、くらう ② 飲食を受ける。(字源より)For what is worth the 喰 entry of a jigen dictionary. – 永劫回帰 Dec 24 '15 at 8:43

The earliest appearances of 喰 in dictionaries are, as @変幻出没 said, those in 龍龕手鏡(龍龕手鑑) or 新撰字鏡, but their definitions are not much same as today's. The meaning they suggested is like "dine", "dinner" or "have a meal" and likely to be a variant of 飧.

In more recent usages 喰 explicitly represents くう and くらう, contrary to 食 can also be read たべる or はむ. I'm not sure if the kanji was recycled or reinvented, but it certainly had some usefulness because pre-modern orthography rarely used okurigana, making it difficult to distinguish certain homographs. In this sense, you can also say that 喰 has already lost its reason for existence, but it's still in use, especially when you want more "bite and booze" feeling or violent "consuming, devouring" implications.


Dictionary says 喰 is made in Japan to emphasize the action of eating by adding 口 next to 食.

The difference of two kanjj is that 食 is a kanji designated for everyday use and 喰 isn't that, so we mostly use 食. The difference of meaning is little, so if you use only 食, it is no problem.


口 means mouth. Since Kanji is ideogram, both have 食 that means eating and food. Other kanjis related to food/eating also have 食:


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