Both seem to mean contest, resists. Is あらそう more about verbal protest? And あらがう related to action such as rebellion? Is there an overlap?


There is a slight difference.

「あらそう」 is to fight with, to compete for something, http://ejje.weblio.jp/content/%E4%BA%89%E3%81%86

「あらがう」 is to oppose, to resist, to go against something http://ejje.weblio.jp/content/%E3%81%82%E3%82%89%E3%81%8C%E3%81%86

Simply put, you can 「あらそう」 for 1st place, but not 「あらがう」. On the other hand, as a soldier, you can 「あらがう」 a direct order from your superior if you find it immoral, but its's not something you can 「あらそう」.

Either word can be carried out verbally or via action, so that wouldn't be the defining difference.

  • Is there a situation where both are appropriate? – Tedy Pranolo Jan 6 '17 at 3:01
  • @TedyPranolo Not that I can think of, as they are fundamentally different. With 「あらがう」, you are directly going against something or someone, where as with 「あらそう」, you don't necessarily have to be. Racing for that last Playstation 4 on Black Friday at Best Buy is definitely a はげしい 「あらそい」 but you aren't particularly opposing or disobeying anyone. – Halfway Dillitante Jan 6 '17 at 3:13

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