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From the definitions and examples I've seen, it seems that 喜悦 focuses more on the emotion of joy/happiness, and 歓喜 focuses more on the experience of the joy.

Or am I looking too far into it?

2 Answers 2

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When I see 歓喜の声を上げる, I have something "explosive" in mind, like this:

歓喜

On the other hand, when I see 喜悦の声を上げる in non-religious contexts, what I would have in mind is the voice of sensual pleasure, induced by things like drugs or orgasm.

According to BCCWJ, 喜悦 is rarer and much more literary than 歓喜. 歓喜 frequently appears in light novels and casual blog articles, whereas roughly half of the examples of 喜悦 are from erotic scenes in novels, and the rest are mainly from older novels and serious articles about art/religion/mythology/etc.

In religious contexts, unfortunately I'm not sure how 喜悦 is used. Hymns and Bibles are full of counterintuitive expressions, and 喜悦 may be interchangeable with 歓喜 and may refer to strong happiness in general.

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  • Right+1 for further infor about 歓喜。I've never heard anyone said 喜悦 in ordinary conversation. ( But as you say, in shrines, like at funerals, I might have heard it... )
    – user7644
    Jun 17, 2016 at 1:38
  • Yes I may have heard it too, but I have no idea how 喜悦 and 歓喜 differs semantically in おみくじ.
    – naruto
    Jun 17, 2016 at 1:43
  • FWIW, I've never heard 喜悦 in the Bible..
    – istrasci
    Jun 17, 2016 at 2:53
  • As further evidence that use of the kanji 悦 in modern Japanese might entail an "erotic pleasure" meaning, a certain script in Radiant Mythology 2 used several less-common spellings, including 悦び{よろこ} in a situation where the speaker was describing his... ahem.. appreciation of cold, hard steel (and how he loves the feel of it against his naked body). Yeah. Most interesting "fetch 5 of <common item>" quest text I've read in a while. Jun 17, 2016 at 4:35
  • So would a girl named 悦子 have any kind of connotations with her name?
    – istrasci
    Jun 17, 2016 at 16:11
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This is a good question, since I have never paid due attention to before, and when I googled it some Japanese too have same question with you.

The questioner went to ( probably a shrine ) on New Years Day and there he or she bought written oracles ( probably 2 ) and one of the oracles says

歓喜あり

The other says

喜悦あるべし

The answerer is responding as follows.

「歓喜」「喜悦」は、ともに心からの喜びという意味なので、ほぼ同じです。

Both 歓喜 and 喜悦 denotes the happines arising from deep inside one's heart, so that they do not have particular differences.

Hope mine helps even a bit.

Thank you.

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