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I reckon that ふい is a kango word (不意), but I usually see it written in hiragana, even in print. Neither of the two characters are hard, and if people are typing it shouldn't matter that ふい is easier to write, so I wonder if there are any other reason why ふい is usually writtein in hiragana.

  • I think it depends. I suppose that I write 不意に思う. – user25382 Aug 24 '17 at 12:14
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    Could you show us some examples? There surely is the word 「ふい」 that has nothing to do with 「不意」 and it needs to be written in hiragana. – l'électeur Aug 24 '17 at 12:15
  • @l'électeur the example kimi mentioned is a good one, I often see e.g. ふいに思う, ふいにする. Sometimes people write kanji too but I feel that hiragana is more common. I know that there are other uses of ふい that has nothing to do 不意, and I'm not including that. – xuq01 Aug 24 '17 at 12:37
  • @kimi You are right, I'd write this way too. I guess this is a matter of preference, but I wanted to know the reason (or the lack of reason). – xuq01 Aug 24 '17 at 12:38
  • In my opinion, ふいになる can be used as you spoil a chance, you spoil your effort. ふいに思う might confuse some people because ふい used in ふいになる. As naruto explained below. – user25382 Aug 24 '17 at 13:06
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There are two different ふい listed in dictionaries:

The second one has nothing to do with 不意, and has to be written in hiragana. That is, you can say 不意に思い出す but not チャンスを不意にする nor チャンスが不意になる.

According to this, ふい meaning total waste may be etymologically related to 吹く.

In addition, ふいに meaning unexpectedly is often written in kana these days, and I think that's because this ふいに is becoming a lexicalized adverb, which should be generally written in kana. (We still can say 不意の~, but I have never heard ~は不意だ.) 次第に and 遂に are other examples of adverbs which are commonly written in hiragana.

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