I came across this sentence in 雁:


My understanding is that 恨, unlike 怨, can convey not only resentment but also regret. My questions are the following:

(1) Does 恨 carry anything like this connotation in the context of "人を恨む"? Does "人を恨む" express something less aggressive than "人を怨む"?

(2) Are two different kanji for うらむ used here simply to avoid repeating kanji within a short span of text? If so, does this practice generally nullify the particular connotations of the homophonic kanji in question? For example, if 恨 were used purely to avoid repetition, could it ever connote regret, or would it only express resentment?

2 Answers 2


(1)It cannot be determined whether the ”恨む” include regret or not. More before and after sentences are needed for me to judge it.

(2)Recently even Japanese can rarely distinguish these two kanji for うらむbecause "恨む" is way more common, and almost nobody without writers of pure literature uses "怨む". However, I suppose that your practice sentence was quoted from a pure literature, so that the author used these two different Kanji to differentiate the meaning. To avoid the repetition of same Kanji, they don't change the kanji itself but change the verb itself because they know, to be exact, every Kanji has a subtle different meaning from each other. In this case, I suppose "恨む" contains regretful meaning, and "怨む" express more aggressive and is pure curse to someone.

Anyway, Japanese except writers of pure literature don't use "怨む" so much in daily life because they don't know the difference correctly.


恨 is on the list of 常用漢字{じょうようかんじ} (Chinese characters designated for daily use) and 怨 is on the list of 表外漢字{ひょうがいかんじ} which means it is used less on the daily basis on newspapers/subtitles etc. Although 恨む and 怨む can be translated as ill feelings such as "blame", " bear a hard feeling" and " feel resentment against" and share the same meanings, I personally sense that the ill feeling contains a complaint to people or to one's self with 恨む and a maliciously aggressive hatred to others with 怨む (this kanji is often used in horror novels/ movies such as 呪怨{じゅおん} aka The Grudge).

However, in the sentence you came across, the author might have expected to the readers to feel the subtle difference of those two kanjis or with the intention to spotlight the feeling of "うらむ” in her 悔しい気持ち.

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