I noticed several times that japanese people use 遊ぶ (play) when talking about meeting someone (usually friends or partners) instead of 会う (meet).

For example:
1) 明日、友達と遊ぶ。
2) 遊びに来てね。

Is it just a colloquial way of saying "to meet and enjoy time together" or can (obvioulsy depending on the context) 遊ぶ imply intimate intentions, maybe in the second example?

1 Answer 1


遊ぶ still means play and 会う does mean meet.

But when you use it in a sentence, lets say the one in your first example:

明日、友達と遊ぶ予定だよ。=  I'm going to play with my friends tomorrow.

I would say the best translation for the word 遊ぶ here would be "hang-out", that you can kind of picture meeting your friends and have fun together.

In English it is more common to put more focus on the 'meeting' part but in Japanese the focus is on the latter. The meeting part is assumed to happen before the "playing" part, just like how you assumed you'll surely play with your friends after you meet them.

If you think about it, it is actually quite weird to say "I am going to meet my friends tomorrow".
To me it feels like you purposely planned to go meet them, say hi then you'll do nothing with them.

会う does mean "meet" but only used when the focus is on meeting someone. It can be used when you meet someone accidentally on the street, perhaps chatted for a bit but the focus is still on meeting the person when you try to tell others about it.

Another way to use the word is when you have a formal meeting with someone, such as in a business occasion which you'll have an appointment with a person and chat about each others company or so to get to know about each other.

Regarding if 遊ぶ could imply intimate intentions, my answer is yes, it can. 遊ぶ simply means "to play", one can play games, play tricks on others, or play secret games that only adult would know.

But technically any word can be used to imply intimate intentions given the [right context]{dirty mind}. Examples:

  • 今夜俺の部屋にこないか?一緒に遊びましょう〜♡
  • 遊ぼう(΄◔◞౪◟◔`)

Illustrations are supplied to prove my point but if you have a clean mind like I think nothing can be used to imply intimate intentions.

If thats the case, please seek [advice]{(´◔౪◔)} from your doctor.

  • > 会う It is more commonly used when you meet someone accidentally on the street. Wouldn't 出会い be more appropiate for random encounters. It literally means "encounter"
    – kramax
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 13:18
  • @kramax Yes you are right, 出会う is used specifically to mean random encounters, but I won't say it is more suitable in the sense of you must use 出会う if it is a random encounter. あう can be used for random encounter as well, and usually using different kanji instead of 会う、perhaps 逢う・遇う.
    – ed9w2in6
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 13:59
  • One example would be: 偶然彼に街で会った。 How you use the word is what it really matters. I will change my answer to make it less confusing.
    – ed9w2in6
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 14:11
  • I am simply selecting to usage of 会う such that it is most similar to how you can use the word "meet" in English. I thought it would be easier to understand, does it?
    – ed9w2in6
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 14:19
  • Actually I am not sure which 表現 is better to refer to meeting someone unplanned given there will be nuances in different context. Maybe I would ask a question about this and I will post the link here.
    – ed9w2in6
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 14:20

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