I'm a little lost on which one to use for monster. Is there a different meaning between the two? Which one is better to use for monster; [怪物]{かいぶつ} or [化]{ば}け[物]{もの}? Thank you in advance! :)


3 Answers 3


化物 is more of a supernatural entity, like a ghost or spectre with ethereal form.

怪物 is more of a terrestrial monster type of creature with physical form.


WWWJDIC indicates 化物 as "goblin; apparition; monster; ghost; phantom; spectre; specter" while a search for 怪物 returns just "monster". So going by these definitions, the first would be a more general term that you can apply to all sorts of fantastic and/or paranormal creatures, whereas the latter would seem to describe a more specific type of being.

This coincides with my personal opinion. When I hear or read 怪物, I think of a more or less large...well, monster...with animalistic traits or body parts like fangs, fur, etc. Also, I would imagine it as not being very intelligent. As I already said though, this is very subjective.

Now, 化物 is the term that I come across way more often than 怪物 in Manga, Anime, Games, Movies, etc. As stated above, it's used for all sorts of creatures. Note that people can also be called 化物, for example if they are particularly cruel, have superhuman powers, etc.

Also, there's the term 怪獣 for huge monsters like Godzilla and King Kong. 怪獣映画 is it's own gerne of film and I think they also call the monsters in the Pacific Rim franchise 怪獣.

So in the end, it depends on the context, as it often is the case in Japanese, but I think you are almost always safe to use 化物.


We need to clarify what kind of monsters you are dealing with. I think the safest catch-all, neutral term for monsters is simply モンスター if we don't have any context.

化け物 tends to refer to Japanese yokai or has a fairly negative/derogatory connotation. 怪物 tends to refer to large and strong creatures like dragons and griffins.

Pikachu and Cookie Monster are safely called モンスター, but I hesitate to call them 化け物/怪物.

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