I wanna ask you about the difference between [怖]{お}じける and [恐]{おそ}れる. Both mean to be scary right?

  • Which is more common?
  • How do I use each in a sentence?
  • Are they interchangeable?

I would define them as:

  • (~を)恐れる: to fear (something)

  • (~に)怖じける: to flinch or cower in fear (at something) ; get frightened

A1) I would say 恐れる is more common, in terms of the absolute number of uses, but since their meaning are slightly different, I don't think there's much of a point in comparing.

A2) Here's an example I made for each.「獣は火を恐れる。」: "Animals fear fire."「熊は炎に怖じけて、逃げて行った。」: "The bear flinched at the fire, and ran away."

A3) Some of the time, I guess.


I think the words are often interchangeable and hard to distinguish. So, the difference is subtle. My interpretation is the following:

怖{お}じける is used often when it is in an unknown situation such as jumping off from the cliff or going into a ruined building at midnight. You are testing your courage.

On the other hand, 恐{おそ}れる is used often when you are scared of the known/learned situation which had happened before.

If you are being bitten by the dog before, next time you might be afraid of touching it. Or getting food-poisoning by eating a raw oyster, you are afraid of having food-poisoning again by eating it. I think -phobia in English is close to 恐れる.


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