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When hearing (not reading) 口唇 in a sentence, should it be assumed that the speaker is saying "lips" and not "red lips" (紅唇)? If not, what cues can be used to determine which is being meant?

I know that 赤い唇 also means red lips, and I would assume that it is used to avoid ambiguity.

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    Where would you realistically expect to hear 口唇 or 紅唇 in conversation? – l'électeur Sep 5 '17 at 1:50
  • In this particular context, it was in an anatomical reference. – illmortem Sep 5 '17 at 2:11
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How was 口唇 pronounced when you heard it?
Anyway we only say くちびる for lips.
If you have a chance to read 口唇, it's correct to pronounce it as こうしん. You may have no chance to hear こうしん for lips in daily life, because the sound has a lot of homonyms like 行進 march/parade, 更新 update, 交信 communication, etc, that are more familiar than 口唇.

I think that "口唇{こうしん}" is a medical term used only in an oral hospital and the like apart from daily use, and in that case 口唇{こうしん} simply means lips and does not mean 紅唇 that could be understood as "red lips".

Usually we say "赤い唇{くちびる}" or "唇{くちびる}が赤い" for "red lips", not "紅{あか}い唇{くちびる}".

"紅" isn't good for expressing being red for lips but good for cheeks, like "紅{あか}い頬{ほほ}" or "紅{あか}い頬{ほ}っぺた".

  • Ah, I see. Thank you. Yes, the pronunciation was こうしん, which I looked up and found that it means "lips" (口唇) and "red lips" (紅唇). – illmortem Sep 5 '17 at 2:18

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