What's the difference between 重{じゅう}責{せき} and 責{せき}任{にん}? They both have almost identical meanings - "Heavy responsibility" and "Responsibility". I found at goo even this example:


  • 1
    You might have already answered your question... There is an emphasis on the weight of the responsibility in 重責.
    – keithmaxx
    Oct 13 '17 at 6:02
  • But for me it is not very clear what is the purpose of 任 in 責任.. Why can't I say "重責任" - this is just for example. Oct 13 '17 at 6:06
  • The character 任 by itself means duty or obligation. 重 is heavy, 責 is taken from 責任 which is responsibility.
    – keithmaxx
    Oct 13 '17 at 6:09

責任 is responsibility, 重責 is huge responsibility.

This happens because many Sino-Japanese compounds are made by combining two similar (or closely-related) kanji to reduce the number of homophones. The kanji 責 on its own has the meaning of responsibility, but it's too short and people usually use 責任 in sentences (責 is occasionally used as a standalone word, though). In words with more complex meanings, 責 is enough.

Similar examples:

  • 病気【びょうき】 (disease) vs 重病【じゅうびょう】 (severe disease)
  • 結婚【けっこん】 (marriage) vs 重婚【じゅうこん】 (bigamy/polygamy)
  • 岩石【がんせき】 (rock) vs 巨岩【きょがん】 (huge rock)
  • 帝王【ていおう】 (emperor) vs 女帝【じょてい】 (empress)
  • 幸福【こうふく】 (happiness) vs 不幸【ふこう】 (unhappiness/misfortune)

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