When I went to check the kanji for なくす (to lose something) I saw that tangorin.com offers 3 different possible characters. I've seen the first one (無) in some mangas and that's the one I knew, but there are 2 alternatives (亡くす, 失くす). I was wondering if there was any difference in meaning/usage between those characters.

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    To make a guess of 亡くす, it probably means something like 人を失う.
    – Angelos
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 2:54
  • When someone dies, also [失]{うしな}う can be used like "[惜]{お}しい人を[失]{うしな}った". Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 8:26
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    Tangorin is not displaying the hints WWWJDIC has. 1) The word is usually written in kana 2) only 無くす and 亡くす are common 3) 失くす is an irregular reading 4) 亡くす is particularly for sense 3, to lose someone
    – oals
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 8:26
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    Also, I poked around and Tangorin seems to be using an Oct 2012 version of edict and is way overdue for an update.
    – oals
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 8:38
  • @oals Oh, good point! I'm only aware of two interfaces to edict which keep the file up-to-date, jisho.org and Jim Breen's own WWWJDIC.
    – user1478
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 9:27

2 Answers 2


We can use three different kanji, 無, 失, and 亡 for "なくす." 大辞林 published by Sanseido defines "無くす" as:

① verb. make an existing thing unintentionally disappear, lose sth., e.g. 財布を無くす.

② lose, give up (motivation, confidence).

③ remove, sweep away.

"亡くす" as:

① verb. a euphemistic expression for describing the fact that a family member or a relative of the speaker is dead, e.g. 彼は母親を早く亡くした – He lost his mother very early.

② lose.

失くす and 失う are equivalents that simply mean “to lose,” e.g. [視力]{しりょく}を失くす/ [失]{うしな}う / [失明]{しつめい}する – lose eyesight.


To agree with Nothing at all's comment, 亡くす is used to refer to when someone dies, in the sense of "I lost my relative to cancer". See here for a few examples.

I have never seen 失くす used before, and it is not in the dictionary I typically utilize (Goo). However according to this post (which specifically discusses the difference in these Kanji), it says that while it is not a normal reading, it is used in some casual situations for the same meaning as 無くす.

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    I think 失{な}くす is common enough that it's worth learning, even if it's not an official reading for 失 and isn't listed in most dictionaries.
    – user1478
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 4:24
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    @snailboat: "common enough" based on what? For as long as I've studied Japanese (almost 20 years), I've never seen that reading for it, informal or otherwise. Not to say I couldn't make an educated guess, but I'd be really hesitant to say it's common.
    – istrasci
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 4:28
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    ^ 「失くしもの」に関する場面で日常生活でよく使われますね・・・。「無駄を無くす」みたいに、意図的に無くす、っていう感じじゃなく、意図しないで失くした、紛失した、みたいなときに。。。
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 4:53
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    @istrasci That's an interesting contrast, for I've always believed that 失くす is the primary choice for this word. But I have to admit they use all-hiragana なくす in everyday settings; the kanji is suitable for literary language. Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 9:43
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    I meant to say the verb 失くす is common when talking about 失くし物 (as in 「財布を失くした」), not that 失くし物 is common... グーグルでヒットする結果を見たらどういうものに使われるかわかるかと思います google.co.jp/…
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 5:11

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