8

曖昧{あいまい} is a shared term between Japanese and Chinese.

As far as I know, they can both mean vague, ambiguous, obscure, or something that cannot be published into light.

But there's another meaning I haven't often seen in Japanese, but in Chinese:

A special association, friendship or status between boy and girl. They may feel more than or not only friends but not so sure about it.

To be more specific, in Chinese, 曖昧(的關係) the words inside brackets can be completely ignored and has this meaning.

But for Japanese, does Japanese have this meaning without brackets 曖昧{あいまい}(な関係{かんけい}) ? In daily use, will Japanese native speakers think of or associate to this meaning?

10

No, 曖昧 on its own does not mean 曖昧な関係 in Japanese. The following article written in Japanese explains 曖昧 has broader meanings in Chinese.

【中国語】曖昧 àimèi

この中国語の「曖昧」は、日本語より意味が広くて、日本語と同じ意味のほかに、まず「怪しい、胡散臭い、疑わしい」という意味があります。

最近は特に「友達以上、恋人未満」的な男女関係を表す語としてよく使われています。上の楊丞琳の曲名も、この意味の「曖昧」です。

例えば、傍からみていると、二人の言動は恋人同士のように見えるけど、実のところはそうではない関係。或いは、一方は恋人だと思っていたのに、実は相手はそうは思ってない関係が「曖昧」です。しかし、どちらも単なる友達よりも親密な関係であるのがポイントです。肉体関係があるかもしれません。めっちゃ複雑ですが。よく「{{zh-CN:玩暧昧}}」や「{{zh-CN:搞暧昧}}」という形で、こんな関係になることを表します。

{{zh-CN:两人渐渐产生了暧昧的感情。}}
二人はしだいに友達以上の感情をもつようになった。

{{zh-CN:天秤座的女人爱玩暧昧。}}
天秤座の女性は、「友達以上恋人未満」が好きだ。

3

[曖昧]{あいまい} in Japanese means, as you said, being vague, ambiguous, unclear, etc. In Japanese, the word does not have the meaning of "improper relations between two people".

In Chinese, on the other hand, while the word 暧昧 also has the meaning of being unclear, more often it is used for the meaning of shady relationship between two people. In most cases the word has a negative spin on it, as it also has a bit of "being flirty" in it as well.

  • Yes I feel that too, in Chinese 曖昧 is a more negative term even shady than Japanese – Val Aug 10 '17 at 7:25

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